Hometown: San Jose, CA
J-Rawk’s connection with B-Boying and Hip-Hop traces back to 1982, when he was first introduced to the dance. His older brother, Brian “Money-B” Moreno, was a member of the legendary Sidewalk Breakers, a crew that would later have a big influence on Style Elements. Although just a young kid at the time, J-Rawk was caught up in the excitement of the dance and would break under the wing of members from Sidewalk.
In the early ‘90s, without knowing that Breaking was about to have a widespread resurgence, J-Rawk teamed up with friends in his local neighborhood and began practicing again. They formed Floor Rockers Crew (FRC) in 1993-94 and started to venture out into their hometown of San Jose, meeting and battling others in the city.
Floor Rockers had the advantage of classic footage and direct training from members of Sidewalk. When others at the time were strictly doing power moves and Breaking in their socks, J-Rawk and his crew developed footwork and traditional B-Boy style. They also learned how to practice in a way that would develop stamina and technique.
As Floor Rockers excelled, they starting competing and going to more Hip-Hop functions. It was at one local night club, “Hollywood Junction” in San Jose, that J-Rawk would run into members of Style Elements. He immediately vibed with them and invited them to come practice with FRC in their garage.
Around this same time, J-Rawk also began expanding his style beyond traditional footwork and power moves. He started experimenting with more abstract ideas and concepts. Interaction with members of SEC and seeing Flo Master at B-Boy Summit 3 really opened his eyes to the power of not just moves, but of ideas. He started creating an arsenal of unconventional combinations, threads, and freezes. He used his length and flexibility as a cornerstone for moves that nobody else had.
The bonds of friendship between J-Rawk and Style Elements quickly grew strong. He was asked to do street shows with SEC and, later, to battle with them at Radiotron in Los Angeles. Eventually, J-Rawk and fellow FRC members Poe One and Tommy Boy officially became a part of Style Elements, helping propel the crew out from California to the world.
It was J-Rawk’s innovation on the floor that made him truly stand out and leave a mark on the dance. He incorporated an abstract, “bendable” style without breaking the natural flow of his footwork. He also helped popularize variations of wrist moves and lotuses. It seemed like everything he did connected and told a story. Together with crewmate Crumbs, he also became known for extremely unique and intricate routines. In all of these ways, J-Rawk and Style Elements helped introduce a refreshing new vocabulary to Breaking.
In addition to his influence on the dancefloor, J-Rawk has also made his mark on the culture through other avenues. In 2001, he joined forces with Funk Lab Productions and organized his first big jam in San Jose, titled “True to the Game.” It brought together some of the best B-Boys from California for a first-ever North vs. South battle. The popularity of the event led him to continue throwing it until 2004, when he took a break from the scene. The event made its return debut in 2011.
He has also done a series of commercial work, performing on stage with artists such The Black Eyed Peas, KRS-ONE, Public Enemy, Rahzel, and appearing in Showtime’s “The Princess and the Barrio Boy.” However, J-Rawk made the decision early on to concentrate his energies on his community and family.
From his beginnings till today, Hip-Hop and Breaking have always been an integral part of who J-Rawk is. It was never just a trend or pastime for him; it was a lifestyle and alternative to the streets. Coming from a neighborhood prevalent with gangs and destructive influences, Breaking was a shining gateway into something positive. “That’s why I appreciate dancing so much,” explains J-Rawk. “It helped me stay out of a lot of trouble.”
Today, he continues to remain a dedicated B-Boy, staying active in the scene and helping train a whole new generation of up-and-coming dancers from San Jose. He is also a proud and dedicated father of three sons, the youngest of whom has already begun following in the B-Boy footsteps of his father.
Meaning Behind the Moniker
Cruz Jason Moreno got the name “J-Rawk” from his older brother, who first coined it as a derivative of the middle name he went by. J-Rawk explains that the inspiration for the name also comes from a legendary B-Boy from Master City Breakers with the same name who was well known in the 1980’s. Recognizing that both pioneers and practitioners of the culture had the same name before him, he decided to spell it “Rawk” instead of the standard “Rock.” It was a way for him to put his own original twist on the classic title.
J-Rawk has also been known to go by the alias Jay Bends, a reference to his trademark “bendable” style and flow in Breaking.