For those folk competent enough to chew bubble gum and walk it is easy to see that these entries are, by no means, a fan flavored promotion of Soulja Boy. Nor am I tryin’ to hate. I’m merely investigating The Soulja Boy as a means to explore the value and importance of Black dances, movement vocabularies and the meaning[s] black dancing bodies’ produce. With this in mind, I’m equally interested in observing what happens to these elements when they are transferred and transmitted via a website like YouTube to a larger audience unfamiliar with the codes and context of the dance[s]. So, while most folks are expending a gang of energy targeting dude’s lyrical content, I, like others, sit back peepin' out my man's hustle; that, in many ways, seems to be an evolutionary leap from slangin’ product from the trunk of a whip. More importantly, in light of the simplistic lyrical content, phrasing and directives, I began to wonder what/where this song would be without the dance, and the way in which the dance/song is being virally promoted.

See, this ain’t new. For Hip Hop’s sake folks, please stop frontin’! Hip Hop been had these types of song/dances. What you forgot

Bankhead Bounce (Diamond feat. D-Roc)

Pee-Wee’s Dance (Joeski Love)

or The Tootsie Roll (69 Boyz)

or, one of my favorites, The Humpty Dance (Digital Underground)

and, my other favorite, The Thizzle Dance

On top of that, there’s been dances that are/were inextricably linked to popular recordings. For example, although The Running Man is said to have originated on the East Coast, if you put a Hammer joint on The Running Man is the first dance that comes to many a mind. Matter of fact, The Running Man became commonly referred to as The MC Hammer Dance or Hammer Dance. This physical reference to all things Hammer acts like a manifestation of memory re-called and animated through movement. When I talk to people both young and old about Crank Dat Soulja Boy, a large percentage of them bust out either a simple sketch or full-on execution of the dance moves associated with the song. Can we just peep that for a minute? Somewhere along the lines of time a copious number of ‘everyday folk’ have transitioned from a place of total un-familiarity to automatic performance of The Soulja Boy in less than a year. Whether a person favorably or mockingly uses their body to make reference to this song, in a phenomenological way, it becomes clear that Soulja Boy has successfully imprinted and transferred the essence of the dance. Essence, as Sondra Fraleigh wrote in A Vulnerable Glance: Seeing Dance Through Phenomenology (1999), means that “something is discerned which characterizes or typifies the dance, so that it is recognized as itself and not some other dance. The dance then becomes more than sense impressions of motion” (1999, 12). Furthermore, what’s also at play here is the level of exposure that Internet access and a website like YouTube offers. In the past, televised dance shows like Soul Train and American Bandstand were presented once a week. With the aid of a VCR material from shows like this could be recorded for further review but this pales in comparison to the access and availability to material offered on YouTube. Additionally, the viewing capabilities are on another level. With one click you can get to ‘the good part.’

Furthermore, songs that promoted popular dances ain’t new.

“ . . . we’ll make you do your dance,
we’ll make ya Patty Duke . . .” (Cameo, On the One)

“The Patty Duke, the wrench and then I bust the tango,
Got more rhymes than Jamaica got Mango Kangols (Beastie Boys, Shake Your Rump)

The Godfather told ya’ll ‘bout how Papa pulled the Monkey, Fly, Mashed Potato, and the Boom-A-Rang out his ‘brand new bag.’ Didn’t he also tell folk to get on the Good Foot and Make It Funky? Matter of fact, Soul Brother #1, took time out of his busy schedule to show you a groove or two.

In one of the hottest dialogues to ever be captured on Soul Train we heard James Brown declare that he’s got SOUL . . . not that we needed to be reminded . . . and we watched Damita Jo Freeman embody what’s Super Bad about being Soul-Full.

By no means is Crank Dat Soulja Boy a media creation. So, stop trippin’! We have to be clear about youth driven Black expressive culture, in this case music and dance, and it’s relationship to past (film/television) and current (film/televsion and Internet) mediation. On the real to real, it is imperative that any, and all, scrutiny of Crank Dat Soulja Boy include the historical and cultural context from which/where the dance derived. In spite of its cyber-spatial presence that seemingly strips it from any real world correlation; it has to be re-located. (Snap Dance)

See folks, to reduce the Soulja Boy to a dance craze or fad is lazy and irresponsible. As blasphemous as it may seem he is connected to James Brown, Chubby Checker, Joeski Love, Biz Markie, Kid’n’Play, Mac Dre, Cab Calloway and what’s “hep” or “hip”; The Nicholas Brothers, John Bogle, Cholly Atkins, Damita Jo Freeman, The Lockers, The Electric Boogaloos, New York City Breakers, The Rock Steady Crew, Scoob’n’Scrap, and Mop Tops; the jook, and clubs like The Cotton Club, The Roxy, The Savoy, Maverick Flats, The 9:30 Club, World On Wheels, The Poole Palace, The Monastery, and Shelter; The Buddy Deane Show, Future Shock, American Bandstand, Soul Train and what Black folks brought to the “hop” televised or not. Soulja Boy draws from every jive, boogie, shake, groove, jig, bounce and boogaloo that existed before him; and he remains indebted to each and everybody that gave/give them life.


  1. Doctoradancer said...

    this clips are stellar, interstellar, like in the East, Blackwards, too big to be breadcrumbs and too constant to be a short term fix, what makes them interesting is their permanence in the soul, to the point that they were dilligently transferred from film, or beta to bits and bytes for upload on YouTube. How are you retrieving this impulse, and also the original, which is itself secondary: to record, transmit and archive the footage in the first place? foot age.

  2. Old School C said...

    What can you tell me about the history of Bugalu? I was referred to you by a funkstyler.