THE ART OF EXPRESSION "K.R.U.M.P"
The root word “Krump” came from the lyrics of a song in the 90s. It is sometimes spelled K.R.U.M.P., which is a backronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise, presenting krumping as a faith-based artform. Krumping was created by two dancers: Ceasare “Tight Eyez” Willis and Jo’Artis “Big Mijo” Ratti in South Central, Los Angeles, California during the early 2000s. Clowning is the less aggressive predecessor to krumping and was created in 1992 by Thomas “Tommy the Clown” Johnson in Compton, CA. In the 1990s, Johnson and his dancers, the Hip Hop Clowns, would paint their faces and perform clowning for children at birthday parties or for the general public at other functions as a form of entertainment. The clowning movement took off and today there are over 50 clowning groups. There are the House of Clowns, Cartoon Clowns, World Wide, No Comparison, Titanium, and Rice Track to name few. A clown group entertains, shows up to parties, and performs in shows. These clown groups feel they are doing something positive in a place where there is a lot of negativity. In contrast, krumping focuses on highly energetic battles and dramatic movements which Tommy describes as intense, fast-paced, and sharp. “If movement were words, krumping would be a poetry slam.” Krumping was not directly created by Tommy the Clown; however, krumping did grow out of clowning. Ceasare Willis and Jo’Artis Ratti were both originally clown dancers for Johnson but their dancing was considered too “rugged” and “raw” for clowning so they eventually broke away and developed their own style. This style is now known as krumping. Johnson eventually opened a clown dancing academy and started the Battle Zone competition at the Great Western Forum where krump crews and clown crews could come together and battle each other in front of an audience of their peers.
“Expression is a must in krump because krump is expression. You have to let people feel what you’re doing.
They use the dance as an outlet. Rather than joining a gang kids will join a dance group. When people see Krumping they often think it is violent. A Krumper said they are not fighting and in fact that is the last thing on their minds. You can get pushed in your dance or battle but you don’t think anything of it. It is just a part of the dance. The dancers feel safe when they Krump.
David LaChapelle’s documentary Rize explores the clowning and krumping subculture in Los Angeles. He says of the movement: “What Nirvana was to rock-and-roll in the early ’90s is what these kids are to hip-hop. It’s the alternative to the bling-bling, tie-in-with-a-designer corporate hip-hop thing.”
LaChapelle was first introduced to krump when he was directing Christina Aguilera’s music video “Dirrty”. After deciding to make a documentary about the dance, he started by making a short film titled Krumped. He screened this short at the 2004 Aspen Shortsfest and used the positive reaction from the film to gain more funding for a longer version. This longer version became Rize which was screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and several other film festivals abroad.
Aside from Rize, krumping has appeared in several music videos including Madonna’s “Hung Up”, Missy Elliott’s “I’m Really Hot”, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Hey Mama”, and Chemical Brothers “Galvanize”. The dance has also appeared in the movie Bring It On: All or Nothing, the television series Community, and the reality dance competitions So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. Russell Ferguson, the winner of the sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance, is a krumper. The original web series The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers also featured krumping in season one during the fifth episode, “The Lettermakers”.
RIZE THE DOCUMANTARY
A documentary about Clowing and Krumping in the 1990's
Rize is an American documentary film starring Lil' C, Tommy Johnson, also known as Tommy the Clown, Tight Eyez and Miss Prissy and many more. The documentary exposes the new dance forms known as Clowning and Krumping, which started in Los Angeles around the time of the 1992 riots that followed the Rodney King verdict. The film was written and directed by David LaChapelle.