How Everything Started in Holland

Discover how Holland became the heart of European Hip Hop culture

The Netherlands is a small country. The Dutch Hip Hop scene has learned to look at the world with an open view. Ever since the early 80's new and international developments in Urban music, Street Fashion, Urban Art and Sports are spotted, adopted and remodelled in a progressive, and innovative approach that the Dutch can call their own.

It's almost hard to imagine but when American Hip Hop culture first made it's way into The Netherlands in the early 80's it was Breakdance and not the Rap element that caught the eye of the Dutch youth.

Already in 1983 one of Holland's first successful Hip Hop groups named Alex & The City Crew reached international acclaim with their "Learn to Breakdance instructional rap record". And while in 1984 Dutch rap duo MC Miker G and DJ Sven scored a monster hit with their "Holiday Rap" reaching number 1 in 34 countries the wider appreciation of Rap in the Netherlands only really started to grow in 1987 after the release of the "Milkshake Rap" by MC Extince and subsequently the works of other pioneering Dutch Hip Hop acts like D.A.M.N. The Urban Dance Squad, Tony Scott and the Osdorp Posse.

Sadly the mainstream recognition for Hip Hop culture was short lived. In the late '80s the rise of House music took the nation by storm and the popularity of Hip Hop went down fast.

For quite some years Dutch Hip Hop lived in the underground but regained popularity in 1995 when Extince released "Spraakwater" a top 10 hit song that through it's new and innovative style of Dutch wordplay brought renewal to the Dutch Rap genre. In 1996 the Fat Beats New York record store opened a subsidiary in Amsterdam quickly transforming the Dutch capitol into the heart of European Hip Hop and a favourite tour stop for American Hip Hop artists.

It's a time when Dutch MC's got highly inspired by the "Golden Years" of American rap music. Dutch B-Boys on the other hand had to find their inspirations closer to home due to the American Breakdance scene still not fully recovered from its demise in the late 80's. Breakdance in Europe still has some relevance and with the growing popularity of Hip Hop culture in the late 90's countries like UK, France and Germany see the rise of big Breakdance Battles in big music and sports arena's for thousands of people happening.


From 1997 on Breakdance in The Netherlands is growing again. Old School 80's and New School 90's B-Boys open new practise spots in cities like Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Apeldoorn, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Tilburg and The Hague. In simple gymnasiums the groundwork for the success of the Dutch B-Boys of today is established.

Important B-Boy events such as The Notorious IBE, Rewind and Back to Planet Rock invite Europe's best B-Boy crews to inspire the rapidly growing number of Dutch B-Boys and B-Girls. Around 2004 a new generation of B-Boys comes to the scene and famous crews like Hustle Kidz, The Ruggeds, EXG, Styles Confidential and ADHD are created.

In 2007 B-Boy Niek of The Ruggeds from the city of Eindhoven is the first Dutchman to qualify for the Red Bull BC One World Final unfortunately a serious injury prevents him from competing in the world's most prestigious Breakdance Battle. The following year in 2008 both Dutch B-Boys Niek and Menno of the Hustle Kids crew are invited directly to the Red Bull BC One World Final in Paris but don't make it past the second round.

Still the level of B-Boying is growing and Niek, Menno and B-Boy Xisco travel all over Europe to compete and get experienced in major international competitions. In 2008 Menno becomes the first Dutch B-Boy to win a major event. His first place at the UK B-Boy Championships puts international focus on the promising Dutch B-Boy scene.

In the following years both Niek and Menno get invited to three Red Bull BC One World Finals. In Tokyo Japan Niek reaches the final but is defeated by Red Bull BC One All Star Neguin. In 2012 the first ever Red Bull BC One Holland Cypher takes place and only a few months later the Red Bull BC One Western European Qualifier is organised in Rotterdam. It's around this time insiders start predicting Holland to become one of the strongest scenes in the world.

In 2013 The Ruggeds reach the final of The Battle of the Year crew battle and one year later win first prize at the UK B-Boy Championships in London. In 2014 Menno finally becomes the first Dutchman to win the Red Bull BC One World Final.

The success of Niek, Menno, Xisco en their crews inspire not just other Breakers. Dutch DJ Nonubaga becomes one of the most requested Break DJ's in the world and Holland based social media platforms BBoyworld en WorldBBoyClassic grow out to become the biggest B-Boy related Facebook communities after Red Bull BC One.

In 2016 the number of young dancers is higher then ever before. The Fresh All Stars a B-Boy crew from Weert win the first edition of the Kids crew battle at The Battle of the Year. 2016 also kicks-off the Dutch B-Boy League one of the first nationwide B-Boy competitions in the world entirely focussing on kids.

The international success of the Dutch B-Boy scene does not stand on its own and while the success of Dutch rap due to its language barriers does not reach beyond Belgium other artists, designers and entrepreneurs such as Shoe, Delta, Piet Parra and sneaker store Patta have put Amsterdam Hiphop culture on the international map. On the other hand Hiphop festivals like Appelsap, Woo-Hah and The Notorious IBE succeed in pulling in an international crowd.

On Saturday November 4th the Red Bull BC One World Final is coming to the city of Amsterdam. In this world podium event featuring influential Dutch Hiphop, fashion, art and urban culture the crowd will be hoping for a second Dutch Red Bull BC One world champion title. For this BC One veterans like Niek, Menno and Xisco and international stars such as Kid Colombia, Shane, Jazzy, Justen Beer and Sky Chief will have to battle it out at the Red Bull BC One Holland Cypher on Saturday August 5th.