Updated: Oct 7, 2018
Most of you probably did not know this but Break Mission Malaysia was the first official Break Mission Community Jam outside of the UK.
Here is everything you need to know about Break Mission Malaysia and also the story behind the success and the hard work out there.
We spoke to the person in charged of it all out there; Aaron "Beefy" Chong who shares with us his experiences and the challenges he faced while running Break Mission Malaysia.
Break Mission: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Aaron: People call me Beefy, because I always beef things up. Well, I'm a kinda an awkward person to begin with. I'm born an raised in an island called Penang, North of Malaysia. I am of Chinese descent but I hardly speak the language. Before I knew the existence of hip-hop, I was playing the trumpet for 8 years. I knew a lot about music then. I started breakin in 2007 after seeing my the backspin done life in high school. I enroll in breakin classes with the local OG crews, Crazy Virus (now, Floor Flava) and Fresh Beat Rockers. Even though I grew up with sandy beaches, I've always wanted to live in an urban jungle. After completing art school, I decided to further my studies and adventure in The United Kingdom. I was in North London for 2 years and then Manchester for a while. I've lived in a few cities throughout my life and I'm currently living in Bangkok. I am a Business Developer from 9 am - 5 pm but is a graphic designer by trait.
BM: How did the idea of Break Mission Malaysia first come about? Tell us a little background of how it all began.
A: I lived in the UK from 2010 - 2013. I think it started when Just Roc got me to do some design work for some other guy named Footloose. It was a separate event then. Later, they collaborated and announced 'Break Mission'. So, I made my way to Manchester to support the jam. I made it to every single Break Mission in the UK until I decided to move back home to Malaysia. I jokingly said to Justroc that I could probably do Break Mission Malaysia if he gives me the permission. Honestly, I didn't think much of it but I knew that I wanted to build a stronger scene back home. It seemed like a great idea then. As soon as I got home to my country, I started Googling and asking dancers or people if they would help me out. Break Mission Malaysia started early November 2012 in a ballet studio with only 60 people in the room including participants. We had 2 local OG judges, and 1 foreign judge (Flo from Ghetlow Pirates), a DJ without proper equipment and a venue with speakers. Everyone from the local scene came to support. It felt great so, I was committed to doing more. I wanted BM to be a platform for younger and newer bboys/artists to start. An event where they could test their skills before the bigger stage if they wish. Many didn't see the potential it that and wants BM to be as big as Bcone.
BM: Who did you work with to organise this event in Malaysia?
A: At the start, I worked with my closest friends in the scene. Slowly, I approached other experienced artists for collaboration. There were too many to name and I work with different people all the time.
BM: How long did Break Mission Malaysia run for? How many editions were there?
A: Break Mission went on for 4 years and there were at least 11th editions. We followed the concept of 1 every 2 months. Eventually, once a year. I only focused on setting up Break Mission in Penang even though I lived in KL (5 hours away). I thought it was easier to start in a small city and slowly progress to the bigger city. So, in 2014 I did my first Break Mission in KL, and it had less support from the ones in Penang. BM: What was the main reason for you to decide to bring Break Mission back to your home country? A: I understood the importance of building a scene. Mouse and Justroc motivated and inspired me to do it. Having Break Mission where the concept is about helping the community, was a great idea. I've always gone out of the way to help people in need. It was a brilliant idea that time and it was a good place for me to start and get my message heard in the community. I wanted to spread love and positivity. Rather than competitions. I had the urge to start a hip-hop school in my hometown but many organizations had turned me down. Honestly, I don't think I knew enough.
BM: What were the main challenges you faced when running Break Mission in Malaysia?
A: Where can I start? One of the main factors is the mindset of people in general. Many of them never had the opportunity to leave the island to see bigger things. Not because they don't want to, but financially. We are not exactly as rich as European countries. Culturally, hip-hop is not openly accepted. It is harder to get the message across if I do not firstly use a more common approach, which I had to adapt. It takes a lot of work in educating people. Secondly, would be getting the right team and people to follow you. I'm not from a famous crew or have earned a distinctive reputation. People find it hard to take me seriously unless I've achieved 10K likes on social media or won BCone. I still have to prove it, through dance. Thirdly. I used nothing but my own pocket money. I had to find ways to make money. Getting sponsors were really hard. I had to give away expensive clothes and sneakers to judges, DJs and emcees. I sometimes make merchandises to be sold, but it was never enough to cover rent. My only source was from my own salary. One particular year, I stopped buying material things and spent them on improving Break Mission. Which let to using my own savings at times. I got called out by judges and bboys for organizing wack events. I understand that completely! I have no one to blame but myself. What would you do when your only source of money comes from your paycheque and hustle. It caught me off guard. It was a lesson to learn. My work ethic may not seem pleasing to everyone. I try my best to work professionally and attentively. Organizing an event is hard enough and yet, I get very irresponsible people even from sponsors, artists and etc. What I mean by unprofessional? Have you ever had a judge, turn up 2 hours later or half your team decided to flake, or when your sponsors decided to bail a day before? In a nutshell, the hardest was to convince people with the same vision and message through hip-hop. Many people are not sold on the idea due to cultural differences. Hip-hop is seen here as negative in society. Trying to revive or change the perception is another challenge on its own. Once, I approached a children's home to teach breakin, but was rejected by the people in charge because they were afraid of serious injuries and further involvement with drugs. One of them mentioned: "I've seen TV and what your 'culture' is all about."
BM: What was the most memorable moment of BM Malaysia over all these years?
A: The last Break Mission. I decided to go all out by getting people who are not involved in the community to contribute. I organized a hip-hop festival with all the elements in place. We even had all style battles and beatboxing showcases. I invited Raising the Bar (local rap community from KL) to Break Mission as their crowd would attract more audiences. Lawalah Familia, and X-Mob, local celebrity rappers had a chance to perform for the event. We had a lot of famous hip-hop and non-hip-hop artists contributing. It was almost beautiful. It indeed memorable because Break Mission started in a small dance studio back in 2012, progressing to an abandon shopping mall and finally to a heritage building in the city. I had bigger dreams that required extensive support from the government but, I had to make a name for myself in order for them to take me seriously.
BM: Break Mission is all about giving back to the community, so how did BM Malaysia give back to the community of Malaysia over the years? What were some of the organizations you guys helped?
A: Poverty is everywhere! We gave back at a very basic level. We just donated food to orphanages and charities. Oh! Believe me, I used the whole hip-hop-giving-back-community-thing before and it is hard to be accepted here. On a particular day, one of our contestants in a collaboration in Ipoh City, passed away. He drowned the day after the jam. He is a young but powerful bboy making his name in the scene. None other than 'Hustle Zoul' from the infamous crews, Floor Rockers and Wakaka. Break Mission decided to use their savings as a donation to his family. The winner, Rukus from Bad Taste Kru willingly gave his winnings away too!
BM: We noticed that BM Malaysia stopped in recent years, what is the reason for that?
A: It is hard to organize a jam without support from a big sponsor let alone the scene. I go broke after every Break Mission. BBoys refuse to support the jam because there was no prize money. It gets really tiring after all the years of trying yet, you get minimal support. What is the point of continuing a jam where local bboys/dancers don't even want to support? Most of the time, we don't get people donating. Somehow, people just don't care about the concept at all. At the same time, my priorities as an adult builts up. Sadly, Break Mission wasn't on my list anymore.
BM: Any plans of organising more Break Mission in the future?
A: Yes and no! Yes! If I can get a good team. No! If I have to do it alone again.
BM: What did you learn from your experience organising Break Mission Malaysia?
A: It makes more sense when you are famous and already have a name in the scene, worldwide. As superficial and whiny as this sounds, that is the truth! What I am saying is, I wished I had put in more hard work in representing and making a name for myself. Oh! Find sponsors. Sponsor is KING! On the flip side, I understood the real meaning of community and hip-hop. Hip-hop is the community! It is better to build a community even if it is small rather than gathering an enormous crowd. It just loses its purpose. In the future or near present, I prefer to spread love to people that are willing to learn. My mistake was thinking people could be educated but, firstly I have to change my ways and not others.
BM: Any last words or shout outs?
A: Yeah! Shout out to Floor Flava, Georgetown BBoyz, Dancerism, Topgangz, and Cypherz Kingz for having my back and contributed so much to our brotherhood and to the community. They were the people that immediately grasp the idea and did not ask for anything in return. Also, to all the non-dancers that have helped me hand in hand with venues and collaborations. I really appreciate everything that was put through. A lot of friendship lost, and new ones gained. Break Mission has created a platform for newbies that wanted to raise up. One would think hip-hop and dance culture would be the same but they are actually not. Like I said, cultural differences. People from this side of the world, may not grasp the message at all. So, many prefer the movement rather than the education. We only worship and support when that particular person is a superstar. Break Mission in Malaysia sort of 'died', I believe is due to my own ignorance. If I ever plan on the next one, I will be well prepared. Things would be very different then. Only time will tell. To people that want to make a difference, start with yourself and not others. Always check yourself, before you wreck yourself! We don't live in the past where things were much simpler. Human desire has evolved. Best for us, to realize better ways of improving what we currently have.
Thank you very much for your time and for your sharing. We are really grateful for everything you have contributed over the years and we sincerely wish you the very best of the luck for the future and we hope to reunite with you again soon.