I had the pleasure to get on the phone with Jeff 'Phi' Nguyen, a member from the Season 1 champion Jabbawockeez from the MTV show America's Best Dance Crew. In this exclusive interview, he talks about what the Jabbawockeez been up to since winning the America's Best Dance Crew Season 1. He also gives his opinion on what he thinks about this season and who his favorites are.
Hi, this is Daniel from BuddyTV and I'm here with Jeff “Phi” Nguyen from the Jabbawockeez on the hit show America's Best Dance Crew. Hey Phi, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us today. How are you doing?
I'm good. How are you doing?
Back in season 1 when you guys first started did you ever in your wildest dreams think it's going to be as big as it is now?
Not at all. We knew the underground dance scene and the dance community was kind of big in its own right. But it was kind of like its own kind of culture and all of a sudden this MTV show came along and brought dance crews and all that stuff to the fore front. So it just kind of blew up over night and we totally didn't expect it at all. We feel so blessed not just the Jabbawockeez, but the dance community as well. It gives us another outlet and it shows people that we're not just dancers but we are artists in our own right.
What have you guys been doing since winning America's Best Dance Crew Season 1?
We have been all around. Between doing music videos and doing award shows. We went out to Malaysia to do an awards show out in Malaysia, "The MTV Asian Music Awards". We've done the MTV movie awards. Just different award shows and performances as special guest acts. We've gone to rip with Ne-Yo for the BET awards. And that was just the performing side. We started our own clothing line called, "JBWKZ". That's been doing really well. We are in process of coming out with our spring line. We want to get our own stage show going. We are in production for that. Nothing is set in stone right now but there's talk of a reality TV show but we're so busy doing other stuff that that’s in production as well. We are also going on tour as opening acts for "New Kids on the Block". That's one of our newest adventures.
Tell me more about your clothing line. How did it get started and let your fans know where they can purchase it?
As dancers, as B-boys and hip hop heads we always want to look fresh. For Example, when we show up to the clubs and we're are about to go inside we got to bring some flavor to it. In the beginning of time I think B-boy has always set certain fashion trends even like Run DMC was rapping about B-boy stands. We've always been into fashion and we just like to rock our own gear. We just like to rock what we rock. There are other brands out there that we love rocking but we figure why not just put our spin on it. It's more like the urban flavors you don't necessary have to be a dancer. As of right now, it's in Macy's West at certain stores in the west coast. It just picked up in Macy's south, and on the website. You can also go to Shiekh shoe stores in your local malls or Against all Odds.
Tell me about how Rainen became a special judge on the show. How did he get involved with that?
MTV approached us asking if one of the members from the Jabbawockeez can be a special guest judge. They approached us because JC (Chasez) was doing something because he's a busy guy. MTV thought it was a good idea because we were the season 1 winners and it was the opening of season 3 it would be cool to have one of the Jabbawockeez come and judge.
Any predictions on what you think are going to happen this season? Any crew you like and how it's going to play out?
Season 3 is heat. That is my personal opinion. For the first episode of season 3, I honestly didn't know what to think. With Super Cr3w and Fanny Pack on the second season they brought some heat. I think season 3 has so much variety and they are all good at what they do. The clogging team (Dynamic Edition) was rocking to music that certain generations can kind of feel and understand but they get to do what they do best and they are so good at it. It might not be hip hop, but it's called dance crew and not best hip hop crew. They were super clean and dope.
My favorite crew of the night would have to be Beat Freak. Quest was another good one but my favorite of the night would have to be Beat Freaks. I thought Team Millennia was really good. I was kind of happy that they did the routine they did. The critique that Lil Mama had said to them was right. They have so much more to bring to the table and they know that and we know that as dancers. They have been around for about 10 years. Beat Freaks brought the truth and they held it down for the females and they showed that they can still be sexy. They can still dance like a girl without being 'girlie' and they know how to dance as a female that’s for sure and every single one of them as individual are well seasoned dancers in their own right.
My predictions would be Beat Freaks because I think they are going to do really with challenges. I don't know what challenges will be thrown at them at this season. If it’s going to be anything like our challenges in the first season or even the second season they will do fine. I think they will really be able to adapt to whatever is going to be thrown at them. They are well trained dancers not just in foundational hip hop but in technique and all forms of dance. Those girls are bad. They're pretty much the most versatile crews or one of the most versatile crews.
In Comparison, how would you think these crews stack up to the first season?
I would say third season is more well rounded. They are kind of more prepared because they seen the first and second seasons. They know what to expect. As for the crews itself I think they know what to bring and it's just more well rounded season on the third season. The first season we didn't know what to expect. Honestly, we didn't even know how it's going to be shot. Not trying to clown on MTV but it used to be music television and now it's all reality shows and we all know how those shows are shot. We just didn't know how this show was going to be shot if it was going to make hip hop look stupid or they were going to make dancers degrading. But they did a really good job on the show and they kind of put our culture on the fore front. It was kind of nerve wracking not knowing at all. Everyone on the first season was amazing even from the live auctions to the final crew.
Being on the first season and winning the first season is there any advice you would give to these crews on season 3?
As far as dancing I can't really critique. I view all the other crews as equal in the dance game. I would just say in the spiritual level just really be humble and really be excited that you are on this show. There is going to be tough times and you might even bump heads with your own crew members but that is the first step to a downfall of a crew. You can't fight with each other just be there for support. Make sure you guys stick together as a crew. If one person goes off or strait off or one person's head gets to big or what not it’s not going to work. The formula will not work. Just be humble and be happy that you are there and just represent the dance community and you will do well. I think America will see that you are really there not for camera shine but your there because you love the art of dance.
Tell me about the Gatorade Commercial with Muhammad Ali and Dwyane Wade?
We were performing at a B-boy event called Free Style Sessions. They have it every year and it's a really big competition for B-boys. It's a great outlet for B-boys. We were performing and one of the people from Gatorade saw us and we like, "Hey, how do we get in contact with you guys?" It kind of fell in our lap. They came to free style session and saw our showcase and were like we really like these guys and at first I don't think they really knew what they wanted to do with us but they knew they wanted to work with us. Then the Gatorade commercial came about and it's been going since then.
Great! I just wanted to say thank you so much. Is there anything else you would like to say with your fans out there?
For the fans, thank you so much for the love and support. We feel so blessed and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here doing interviews with you. Much love to the fans and if they are really interested in our clothing line just go pep out JBWKZ.com or check your local Macy's in your region.
Phi, thanks a lot. I really appreciate you taking time out to talk to us today. All of us here at BuddyTV wish you the best of luck with your clothing line and your tour and hope everything goes successful.
Thank you so much and God bless!
-Daniel Ha, BuddyTV Contributing Writer
(Image Courtsey of MTV)