From disc jockey to break dancer, DJ Simple jumps back and forth from the two personas on a daily basis, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Over nine years ago, J.R. Noble, otherwise known as DJ Simple, began scratching on turntables and becoming familiar with the hip hop scene. Growing up, he fell into it as a hobby from going out with friends and watching other DJs spin.
“Back in the day I was going to raves with friends and I was really into music,” says Noble. “Just by going to (these events), it was just kind of like me being cocky. I was like ‘I could do that.”
From that time on he was hooked. He bought his first turntable and started experimenting and before he knew it he was making quality music – people would get up out of their seats for every time his hand touched to record.
Noble was first introduced to playing music in high school when he played the drums in concert and in in a marching band. He also took every art class available, which inspired him to want to study something in college either art or music related, but later he realized a degree was unnecessary.
“Over the years I did enough with art and music that I didn’t feel I needed to go to school to get better at what I was already doing,” said Noble. “I felt like I wanted to go to school and learn something I wouldn’t have otherwise learned.”
After graduating from high school he delayed his college plans to join the military due to being strapped for cash. Seven years subsequent to serving he moved from his hometown Greensburg, Pennsylvania to Buffalo and got his degree in geology from the University at Buffalo.
In 2007 Noble began attending break dancing classes at Verve Dance Studio in Buffalo. As owner Shane Fry and Noble shared their hobbies, they came up with the idea to create an event incorporating Shane’s knowledge of break dancing and Noble’s DJing skills. Thus, Battle at Buffalo was born.
“We wanted to do something to get the scene going in Buffalo,” said Noble. “Getting more b-boys (break dancers) and kids involved.”
Every last Saturday of the month people from all over New York, nearby states, and even Canada gather to compete in this funk styles and b-boying battle for a cash prize. This family-oriented event welcomes all ages from the community. People have the chance to make new friends, reunite with old friends to work dance moves, and listen to quality old school funk music brought by the one and only DJ Simple.
“J.R. plays a huge role in making the battles a success and has been there since the beginning,” said Fry. “It’s a huge luxury having him at the school and it wouldn’t be the same without him.”
Not only does Noble display excellent expertise in DJing, he has delved into the world of b-boy as well. Occasionally he will step out from behind his turntable and break out onto the dance floor to show what he’s accomplished through his study of break dancing.
“We have definitely helped each other grow as dancers,” says Solomon Dixon, a close friend of Noble’s who attends and competes in Battle at Buffalo regularly. “We’ve traveled to Boston, Toronto, Columbus, Chicago, and a bunch of places. I’d say we’ve gone through many life changing experiences together and I can honestly say he’s always been there for me.”
Currently Noble teaches break dancing at the Future Dance Center in Hamburg, NY owned by Gino and Denise Vaccarro – he has been there since September 2007.
“I can say that (J.R.) is very dedicated to his craft both as a teacher and dancer,” said Gino Vaccarro. “His passion is abundant. He is always approaching me about new ways to relate to the kids and get his point across to them.”
The age groups he teaches ranges from eight to 20. Noble says it can often be tough to get the kids to take the dancing seriously, but through different strategies he has discovered ways to keep them more focused.
“Sometimes I’ll have games that we’ll play or I might have little competitions, like who can do the best freeze,” said Noble. “One time I paired them up and they had to come up with their own little routine. They would show it off in class and whoever had the best routine won a prize.”
“It’s all about following your dreams and trying to do what you really want to do with life,” said Noble. “That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”