By DJ/Bboy Rocklee
Over the years, there has always been a strong connection between Barbering and Hip Hop culture. But what is the reason for this and how do they connect with one another? This month, we interviewed a local Bboy/DJ/Barber who shared with us more about his own experiences and challenges he faced over the years and what barbering means to him now. This is the story of Bboy/DJ/Barber Rocklee from Macau.
Introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background as a bboy and DJ.
I started to break in early 2001 in Hong Kong learning from Buddy Crew, then met my crew Flame Illusion in Macau summer 2003, been breaking ever since. I was always the "music dude" in my crew, started to collect vinyl in 2005 then started to DJ in 2009.
I have competed a lot back then as a bboy, my love for the dance is the part of showing respect by giving your best in the circle. DJing helped me to discover more good music in the past, specially the sample breaks that is the DNA of Hip Hop music. I still have my DJ set in my shop so I can "cut it up" in between haircuts.
How did barbering first enter your life?
I used to try to give myself and my friend's a fade, but I didn't know how to so I end up just give myself buzzcuts. In 2011 I met my mentor in Chicago, who is also a bboy named Ruel from the Brickheadz crew, he gave me a clean skin fade with freestyle design, it was that moment I felt the good vibe from a barbershop and a dope haircut from a barber that inspired me to become a barber.
What was the biggest challenges for you when u started to take barbering seriously?
Lack of knowledge, building trust from strangers, I had another full time job when barbering was just a hobby or hustle after work.
Why do you think there is such a strong connection between Barbering and Hip Hop culture over the years?
Barbering can date back ancient times, cutting hair was a ritual to remove negative energy from our body, Hip Hop was created from negative to positive. Barbering is taking care the people from the community, so does Hip Hop. Barbering is connection and building with others, so does Hip Hop. Barbering is giving, so does Hip Hop.
Is it difficult for you to juggle between being a bboy/DJ and barber? How do you balance your time?
To be honest I had to stop doing both and focus my barbering career and business for the past 3 years. The good thing being a barber is you can arrange your work schedule as most of my haircuts are done by appointments. As my shop reaching its full potential, Im arranging more time to do what I always loved to do. I feel time management is underrated, it is something we should never stop learn to do better.
There are a lot of bboys who are also barbers now in the scene, how do you feel about this and do you think this is a good thing for the scene?
I think it is great as bboys we know that its important to practice, and never stop being a student in the game. As bboys we share our knowledge so does my mentor never stop mentoring me even he lives on the other side of the world. I feel we have a great sense of taste and the importance to look fresh in every detail. So having bboys into the barber industry is great and we bboys share same taste in music and fashion. I believe it will benefit to everyone in the scene.
I feel we all see how good those bboys look when they get a fresh haircut before going to jams, without a good haircut you won't "feel" fresh.
What's the biggest thing you learned from being a barber?
Being humble and being responsible.
Any advice you would give for someone who are trying to follow in your footsteps to be a barber?
Make sure you are passionate about cutting hair, if you just do it as a job its not a easy and convenient job. It takes lot of hard work and long hours of standing.
If you do have passion, go out and take workshops and courses just like bboys do. Stay hungry and learn from everyone.
Who are your biggest inspirations and why?
For sure my mentor Ruel Rodriguez for him to show me how barbering changed his life, always remind me to humble and to work smart not just hard. My cousin and business partner Fernando, he believed in my craft and mentored me until now on my business. Ollie the barber from China, we both met when barbering wasnt a cool thing and we both shared our passion and vision, the homie got a nice shop and barber school in Quanzhou. Willy (Weedly) from Taipei, owner of Auntie's Barbershop, he showed me a lot of support and motivated me since i was cutting back at home, got me into a lot of major barber opportunities that shifted my career. Theee are much more but these are the main ones that inspired me in my barber life.
How does the barbering scene differ from the breaking/DJ scene for you?
Barbering scene we are very busy as it is also a daily work, but still there are barber battles and expos. Cutting hair has safety measures and you gotta "not crash" cuz you could ruin someone image by doing so.
Any last words and shout outs?
Thanks for having me, shout out to my mentor and brother Ruel for blessing me with all the knowledge, shout out to some bboy barbers out there, Spark Ming, Tommy (STO crew), BZ Broox (MZK). Shout to my 2LEGIT team, Phade, Jay, Tim, Rolan and N.G. last but not least my family, friends and clients, thank you for the support
Rocklee Interview with Master Barber Magazine in 2016.
Bboy Rocklee in action at Dance @LIVE Macau 2013
DJ Rocklee in action @Club Lotus,Macau in 2012
Go give Rocklee a follow on Instagram @rckl853
Go give his barbershop a follow on Instagram @2legitcutz