Breaking (often wrongly called breakdancing in the mainstream media) is the first dance of hip-hop. However, when it comes to music for B-Boys and B-Girls to break to, DJs have always dug through multiple genres to find those breakable tracks. From guitar breaks taken from unexpected songs like the Jesus Christ Superstar Overture, to the classic Latin vibes of The Mexican by Babe Ruth, you never truly know what track a DJ might drop at a breaking jam.
With this in mind, we've put together five tracks from well-known popular music artists that you might be surprised to find have the right beats, tempo, drums, horns and hits to get B-Boys and B-girls going off. As they're all mainstream tracks, you might also hear them at the next Red Bull Dance Your Style.
1. Justin Timberlake (featuring will.i.am) – Damn Girl
From Justin Timberlake's 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds, and featuring will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, Damn Girl is a funky, smooth track that opens with a steady drum solo that's perfect to break to. Every time Justin speaks the lines, "Damn girl, damn girl, damn girl, damn...' the breakable drums play throughout.
Then there's the rap breakdown when will.i.am, who was a B-Boy back in the day and still gets down every now and then, spits his verse over the breakable drum solo, from 2m 33s of the track up until 3m 10s.
Justin Timberlake consistently makes songs which become dance floor bangers, so it's probably no surprise that he made a track that fits the type of rhythm breakers like to get down to.
2. Christina Aguilera – Ain't No Other Man
The track Ain't No Other Man from Grammy Award-winner Christina Aguilera was the first song released on her 2006 album, Back To Basics. It's an up-tempo, soulful, jazzy track which is heavily punctuated with the sound of horns throughout the song; an instrument that always brings energy to breakers on the floor.
This track was very popular on the breaking scene when it was released and has a drum breakdown from 2m 50s to 3m 04s that gives the track even more breaking appeal. The instrumental of the track itself was good enough to have DJs playing it from start to finish.
3. Bruno Mars – Perm
The third track on Bruno Mars's third album, XXIVK Magic, Perm is a super-funky, high-energy, drums and guitar-driven track that some might hear and think sounds like something you'd hear more for a locking battle than a breaking competition.However , like a lot of classic breaks, there comes a section between 2m 18s and 2m 25s when Bruno brings the energy down a bit and the song breaks down into a cool drum vibe, perfect for breaking.
Bruno keeps the flavour of the breakdown up until 33m 10s when the energy goes up again to the track's original super-funky vibe.
4. Amerie – 1 Thing
The lead single released by R 'n' B singer Amerie on her 2005 album Touch, One Thing was a big hit in the charts, as well as very popular on the breaking scene. With its assortment of drum sounds, from acoustic to bongo to congas, the percussion carries the track with a rhythmic energy that builds to a more-than-sufficient, freeze-inspiring instrument hit that repeats throughout the song.
The very first 10 seconds of the song are perfect enough for DJs to loop into a break. Then there's the actual breakdown between 2m 14s and 2m 24s where the drums and Amerie's vocals speed up and repeat, speed up and repeat and speed up and repeat for a small, wild, 10-second burst of rhythmic, musical energy.
What breakers might not know about this track is that it actually was built from an eight-second sample from the funk recording Oh Calcutta! by The Meters. You can hear the sampled part at 1m 42s of the original.
5. Destiny's Child – Lose My Breath
The first song released on Destiny's Child's fourth album, Destiny Fulfilled, Lose My Breath opens with an American marching band-style military percussion sound of rapid drums that sets the tone for the high.energy song. It's the marching band's drum beats that makes this a song with an instrumental to break to.
The main part of the track that can inspire breakers to jump on the dance floor is the breakdown at 2m 35s until 2m 53s where the tempo slows down a little, but the marching drums still keeps the track moving in a way that'll keep a breaker on the dance floor.