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Harry Martin: Re-Aligning Roller Disco & Hip-Hop



Long before roller disco and hip-hop were even a thought, the trend of roller skating was beloved worldwide. The first ever pair of skates were designed in 1760 by John Joseph Merlin but would ultimately fail due to an inefficient structure. However, the potential of the new skatewear was quickly realized, and by 1819, French inventor M. Petitbled patented the three-wheel inline model.

It wasn’t until 1863 that Petibled would forever “revolutionize the roller skate” and introduce the quad skate that we all know and still use today. From then on, mass production would start, quickly followed by the opening of the first-ever skating rink in 1866 at a resort in Rhode Island.

For the next century, roller skating would be considered an activity everyone can enjoy: no matter age, gender, or race. However, as popular as it was, not even roller skating could break the white-and-black separation barrier. Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, skating rinks would still follow segregation precedents.

This would cause the black community to adopt certain venues as their own, including three legendary rinks in New York City. The Skate Key (Bronx), the Roxy in Manhattan, and the most legendary one of the all, EMPIRE in Brooklyn.

[Photos by Patrick D. Pagnano (1980)]

Ironically enough, a new genre of music in the urban world was rising in popularity in the mid-1970s within the City that included deejays and break-dancing with a more up-tempo sound; Hip-Hop. With roller skating slowly starting to lose its edge around this time, a revolution was needed once again, and the rising, new rhythmic was the exact piece necessary — and by 1979, roller disco was born.

The two sub-genres would help elevate one another tremendously. Roller disco transitioned rinks to upgrade their sound systems with DJ booths — and Hip-Hop would rely heavily on the fresh new atmosphere to showcase talent and break records. For years, the skating rink was the new nightclub, and similar to all other hotspots, that setting can attract just as much bad as good.

Violence would start to plague the roller disco world, and by the late 1990s, rinks were being forced to close. In 2007, the birthplace itself, EMPIRE, officially closed its door as well, marking the end of an era. And with the rise of technology and other sports such as baseball, basketball, and football fully thriving, roller-skating/disco was fading into a past-time hobby.

Nonetheless, a young entrepreneur by the name of Harry Martin is here to change that. Growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and once an avid skater at EMPIRE himself, Harry was there to experience it all. The rise and downfall.

Like many others, Harry would lose his passion for roller skating following the closure of venues and not skate for years.It was until a company party nearly a decade later at Lakeside Prospect Park, that Harry would rediscover his love.

[source: instagram/harryjrmartin]

From that point forward, Harry’s mission was to revive that feeling for everyone else; by 2016, he founded The RollerWave. Initially, the concept was pop-up rinks, as he hosted multiple sold-out events at Webster Hall, the Hudson Hotel, and the W Hotel.

Although he was finding much success, Harry’s ultimate goal was to provide a concrete outlet he and many other Black Americans once depended on. And what better place than in his neighborhood of Brooklyn?

On February 11th, 2023, Harry officially opened the flagship Roller Wave location in Atlantic Terminal Mall, directly across the street from Barclays Center. The 24,000 square venue houses a 9,000-square-foot skating rink, along with modern amenities and aesthetics.

Furthermore, Harry also made it a point to include elements of what started it all—art, disco lighting, and most importantly, the music: Hip-Hop.


Hip-Hop started in the streets of New York City, just like roller disco. The two are synonymous with one another. We used Hip-Hop as an outlet to escape our troubles. It helped people tap into a source of light that’s inside all of us. 

It gave us a sense of confidence… and brought our communities together. That, in turn, started a lot of movement to fight the systems that keep us down. Everything successful is based on community.”


“Roller-skating has the same effect. It makes people feel whole again. Even as outcasts, we can find a tribe of people going through the same daily struggles and cope together in a fun, positive way.”

Harry has hosted multiple events synced with Hip-Hop in just four months of being open. Whether it’s with an artist or DJ such as Alicia Keys and Roxanne Shante, to the finale of Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga series with the cast, the trendy CEO always makes it a point to implement the soundtrack of the culture in some shape or form in the hottest new rink of the millennium. 

So the next time you’re in the mood for fun, fitness, and hip-hop, be sure to visit The RollerWave in Brooklyn- and lace up!


Official Website | Instagram

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This past weekend at San Antonio venue Paper Tiger, Jordi from Eagle Lake, Texas won the Red Bull Batalla San Antonio Qualifier, beating out 15 others to earn not only bragging rights, but automatic entry to compete at the National Final in Miami in October. Red Bull Batalla is the largest Spanish-language freestyle rap battle in the world, and this marks the 2nd time the26-year-old winner qualifies for the National Final.  

As the first U.S. qualifier event of the 2024 season, over 1,100 fans rallied to support MCs from the local Texas region and beyond. In a thrilling final battle, Jordi squared up against local Texas MCCuban, igniting the crowd’s excitement to see which hometown freestyler would take the trophy. Though Jordi takes first place, Cuban will also advance to the National Final along with runners up Boss fromLA and Yenky One, a former World Final qualifier who resides in Utah. Houston rapper Bo Bundy closed out the event with a performance followed by Mexico’s Tornillo who serenaded the crowd with hits like “Morena,” “Un Die Todo Se Termina,” and a new unreleased track. 

All eyes now shift to New York City where Red Bull Batalla will hold its first titled event in the Big Apple on July 13th with the second and final Red Bull Batalla U.S. qualifier event of the season. A new cast of 16 MCs will prove themselves for the ultimate prize – a chance to represent the U.S. on the world’s biggest stage for freestyle battle rap at the sold-out International Final at the WiZink Center in Madrid, Spain in November. 

For photos and assets from the Red Bull Batalla San Antonio Qualifier visit Red Bull Content Pool. For fans looking to catch the action, the full event replay can be streamed across Red Bull Batalla social channels including Twitch tomorrow, April 23 at 4pm PT / 7pm ET.

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Artist To Watch

Jursula’s Journey to ‘I’m Running Away’ – A Transformative Rendition of Kanye West’s ‘Runaway’



In the realm of music, inspiration often strikes in the most unexpected places, weaving a narrative that resonates deeply with both the artist and their audience. For Jursula, the journey to creating “I’m Running Away,” a reimagined rendition of Kanye West’s “Runaway,” was nothing short of transformative, fueled by a series of serendipitous encounters and personal revelations.

 The genesis of “I’m Running Away” can be traced back to a chance encounter at an airport, where Jursula found herself drawn to the haunting melody of a piano rendition of Kanye West’s iconic track. As she approached the musician, little did she know that this moment would mark the beginning of a profound musical odyssey.

 “I first consciously heard it on my way from Africa to LA,” Jursula recalls, reflecting on the pivotal moment that sparked her creative journey. “Someone was keying it into a piano at the Airport in New Jersey as I was going to get to my flight. I stopped to ask him what he was playing, and he told me it was a Kanye West song.”

 For Jursula, who had always admired Kanye’s artistry, hearing the reimagined rendition of “Runaway” was nothing short of revelatory. “I thought Kanye was an out-of-this-world genius before, but this song instantly made me see him on a whole new untouchable God level as he claims to be,” she shares, highlighting the profound impact of the music on her perception of the artist.

 However, the journey from Africa to America took an unexpected turn when Jursula was informed that her flight was bound for the Dominican Republic instead of her intended destination, LAX. Despite the setback, she found solace in the vibrant atmosphere of the airport, indulging in the simple pleasures of a classic American burger amid the chaos of travel.

 It was amidst this backdrop of uncertainty and introspection that Jursula found herself drawn to the familiar strains of Kanye’s “Runaway,” echoing through the corridors of the airport. “Something in me just knew, it was something raw,” she recalls, recounting the moment she decided to freestyle over the instrumental, capturing the raw emotions of her journey in a spontaneous burst of creativity.

 As she poured her heart out in the impromptu freestyle, Jursula found herself grappling with a tumultuous mix of emotions, from the pain of a broken relationship to the exhilaration of embarking on a new chapter in her life. “I was crying both of sadness and joy during the freestyle to the point I didn’t even know what I was saying anymore,” she admits, reflecting on the cathartic release of expression.

 For Jursula, “I’m Running Away” became more than just a song; it was a testament to resilience, empowerment, and self-discovery. “It was such a release song for me. I felt ascended, empowered, and free to not needing anyone,” she shares, embracing her newfound independence with unwavering determination.

 As she continues to navigate the complexities of the music industry, Jursula remains steadfast in her commitment to authenticity and self-expression. “I want to do crazy things like Michael Jackson did, go to India to learn balance, yoga for performances,” she reveals, highlighting her insatiable hunger for growth and exploration.

 With “I’m Running Away,” Jursula invites listeners into a world of vulnerability and strength, where every note serves as a testament to the transformative power of music. As she blazes a trail of her own, Jursula’s journey is a reminder that inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places, shaping the course of our lives in ways we never imagined possible.

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Artist To Watch

BraveSoull Arrives With An AfroBeats Fusion “Hate Me Now”



In the colorful and ever-changing world of Afrobeats, a genre-hopping artist emerges with a single that not only captures the essence of the movement but also reinvents it, offering listeners a musical experience that knows no boundaries. BraveSoull and his resonating new release, “Hate Me Now,” brings tradition and innovation together.

Unveiling the Artistry of “Hate Me Now”

Since “Hate Me Now” made its seismic arrival, the effects are still being felt. The record, which is accompanied by a visually stunning music video, has shed new light on the season, infusing the scene with a dynamic blend of Afro rhythms and powerful, trap-inspired sounds that are nothing short of captivating.

BraveSoull, the trailblazing artist behind this amazing audio, is no stranger to the spotlight. His earlier works were defined by an unwavering creative vision, and “Hate Me Now” builds on that tradition with an extra layer of grit and glory. It displays the artist’s artistic development and capacity to both celebrate and transcend the genre he represents.

The Fusion of Past and Present

At its core, “Hate Me Now” is a modern take on Nas’ legendary hit of the same name, a 90s Hip-Hop track that features Puff Daddy which resonated deeply with a generation and is now given fresh life in a universe of Afrobeats by BraveSoull. This blend of past and present is more than just an homage; it is a revamping that pays homage to its origins while boldly venturing into unexplored territory.

In fact, the trendy track’s throbbing tempo, underlined by hard-hitting percussion and complex instrumental layers, sets the setting for BraveSoull’s lyrical talent. His delivery is nothing short of powerful, with words that pierce the air like a hot blade, delivering a message of strength and resistance. The song, which is both powerfully raw and precisely composed, addresses individuals who have been doubted and bruised by life’s storms, resonating with universal themes of empowerment and self-belief.

For a new generation looking for a voice that expresses their struggles and goals, BraveSoull stands up to the plate with a signature sound all of his own. His refusal to compromise, unwavering pursuit of authenticity, and dedication to his craft are evident in every note, making “Hate Me Now” an essential addition to any playlist.

In an age when mass production and commercial formulas frequently eclipse the essence of art, BraveSoull’s solid spirit is a breath of fresh air. His music serves as a reminder that, beyond the layers of production and performance, a song’s heartbeat is its soul, and “Hate Me Now” has plenty of it. For now, get familiar with this trailblazing talent here at 4Sho Magazine! Lastly, let us know your thoughts in the comments!



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