You never know who’s in the room

by Floco Torres

Forrest Webb aka Forrest Getem Gump is an internationally known DJ, B-boy and Dancer. Born in Akron, he grew up in NY during Hip-Hop’s golden years. It was high school friends like DJ Tony Touch and DJ Swell who introduced him to a world that would take him to more places than he can remember. He was a member of the legendary Rock Steady Crew before starting his own collective, the ILL Style Rockers (who celebrated their 21st anniversary this past December) here in Akron.

In the past 32 years, he’s rubbed shoulders with Hip-Hop legends and been in theater productions that have been nominated for international awards. He’s also performed in front of Michael Jackson. Talking with Forrest is a subtle reminder of the fact that you never know who’s in the room.

 

Floco Torres: You’re from Akron, but you grew up in NY. How did you link up with the legendary Rock Steady Crew?

Forrest Getem Gump: Tony Touch and I got put into Rock Steady the same day. I’ve been doing martial arts all my life so when I got out of college, I moved to Harlem. There was a guy in Harlem named Jerry Fontenez. At that time, he was the world champion, so I wanted to go and check out his school. I met him and talked to him and it was crazy because the conversation went from martial arts to Hip-Hop. I met Crazy Legs, I met Fast Feet, then I met Q-Unique and Q-Unique was the connection to Rock Steady. I was going to Crazy Leg’s house at the time and we were practicing on his back porch. There wasn’t a big b-boy scene in New York at the time. Any b-boy was a treasure in New York at the time. I hung out for a while and eventually got down with Rock Steady. I wasn’t expecting it but I gladly took it.

FT: So you’re Deejaying and you’re a b-boy, and that leads to collecting records for the craft, right? How did you get into the art of record collecting?

FGG: I’ve always done that. My family owned a record store, Calhoun Record shop, here in Akron. The store started in 1950. It was my grandfather’s store. I kept the name and brought it back to Firestone Park.

FT: So all the records that your grandfather had were passed down to you?

FGG: They did but then they were burned up in a fire. We had an attic full of 45’s and a basement full of records that all went up in flames. I got my knowledge on records from working in New York. I worked at a store called Big City Records (formerly the sound library). It was the producer’s hub for records. Legend has it that Dr. Dre got the sample for “The Chronic” out of that store. DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, Q-Tip and Large Professor all shopped there regularly. They were always looking for records and sounds to sample. That’s how I got to be friends with all those guys, from working in that store.

FT: You’ve traveled all over the world to do what you love. What’s one of the most meaningful things you learned through rocking with so many different cultures and styles?

FGG: In 2000, we did a show at UCLA. It was one of the worst [theater] shows that we did with Rennie Harris. We were goofing off in the middle of the show and acting a fool. I don’t know what was going on that night but everyone noticed this weird looking light skinned dude in the audience with a turban on. No one could point out who it was. Before the show was over, we took our bows and the person left. We come to find out later that it was Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson and Debbie Allen came to our show. And this was AFTER we won a Bessie award which is like the Grammy’s for theater. For us that was important because you never know who’s watching.

(Photo courtesy of LSquared Photography.)

 

Floco Torres wishes he could’ve put in a lot of the conversation that didn’t make the cut, but you’ll just have to chat with Forrest yourself next time you see him.

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