FEATURE: Sweeping The Nation

Photography Zach Wolf

Photography Zach Wolf

A brunette in a purple hoodie, tube socks and black fitted futilely flails her limbs. A rail-thin dude in basketball shorts who bears an eerie resemblance to Lil Boosie gyrates like an earthworm in a badly lit bedroom. Two blonde chicks in matching “UNT Football” tees and shorts pose and squat in unison. They’ve all come here, on YouTube, to dance—in uploaded home videos of themselves doing the Stanky Legg, the Dougie and the Ricky Bobby, respectively. This is what the creation of a new hit dance will get the average Southern rapper: viral-video love, thousands (sometimes millions) of YouTube views, 15 seconds of fame, a foot in the door of the waning music industry. Recognition? Respect? Well, more on that later.

The South has, without question, dominated hip-hop for much of the millennium, producing most of the medium’s recent stars—Lil Wayne, T.I., Young Jeezy, Soulja Boy, Rick Ross—and marginalizing older Meccas like New York and L.A. The South is where they dance, and the whole world loves it when they do their dance. Go on and lean wit’ it; rock wit’ it; wipe it down; walk it out; pop, lock and drop it; crank that; shoulder lean; swag surf; do the Stanky Legg, the Ricky Bobby, the Dougie, the Halle Berry, the Dame Dash, the Franky, et cetera, et cetera… Seems like there’s a new move to learn every week. What is it about the South that makes it the hotbed for new bops?

“The South is, like, the new Motown,” says Atlanta’s DJ Unk, 26. “It’s a lot of new artists that come out every day, and everybody got they own lane. West Coast got West Coast music. North got up-north music. The South is the party!”

The initial blitz arrived around 2006, amid hip-hop’s Southern renaissance, when several regional dance hits went national. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart that year, Dem Franchize Boyz’ “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” peaked at No. 7, while Yung Joc’s “It’s Goin’ Down” (the video to which featured the motorcycle-revving dance none other than Tom Cruise busted out on BET’s 106 & Park) rose to No. 3. In 2007, DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out” reached No. 10, while singles like Huey’s “Pop, Lock & Drop It” (St. Louis) and Trill Fam’s “Wipe Me Down” (Baton Rouge) also made their mark. By September 2007, Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” was the No. 1 song in the country. Continuing what many pegged as a fad, songs like “Stanky Legg” (by GS Boyz, from Dallas) and “Swag Surfin’” (by Fast Life Yungstaz, from Decatur, Georgia) have gained steady national airplay in recent months.

Due to such popularity, while most dances are conceived by improvisation, there’s often a premeditated desire to create the next phenomenon. The GS Boyz (whose Stanky Legg requires leaning to one side while rotating the opposite foot, as if stamping out a cigarette) admit to being inspired by Soulja Boy’s Superman-dance-and-YouTube-fueled ascendance. “We like to dance a lot,” says group member Marcus “Marc D” Dinkins. “And to see somebody like him, he came up from where he live, and he was just a normal kid. He ain’t have nothing—it’s kinda like ourselves.”

As with the history of dance itself, the origin of certain moves can be hard to trace. DJ Unk learned how to “walk it out” from a group of tipsy girls in the parking lot of Atlanta’s Club Chocolate and then recorded a song about it. Oftentimes, YouTube users take the initiative and create their own, as was the case with dances designed for Dallas rapper Dorrough’s debut single, “Walk That Walk,” and Hurricane Chris’s “Halle Berry (She’s Fine).” “Neither one of us came up with the dance,” says Chris, 20, the Shreveport, Louisiana, upstart who hit huge with “A Bay Bay” two years ago, and whose new Halle Berry dance pantomimes checking oneself in the mirror. “We dropped the hit, and, like, two months [later], we turned on YouTube and they had already put their own dance to it.”– CLOVER HOPE WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY

For more of the Sweeping The Nation article, make sure to pick up XXL’s July issue on newsstands now.

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  • Tok


  • Floss

    Everybody loves to dance even niggas who cant dance can do some of these dances so its like fuck it if you aint on some im shootin up the club typee shit IE not some super thug ass dude then fuck it have fun do shit for your kids to make fun of you for one day just like how we clown our parents for their generation dances.

    And out here in L.A. they jerkin that shit is all over the place , every club every party. Jerk ,jerk,jerk !!!

  • yoprince

    haha.. it is what it is.. i can specifically remember hearing most of these songs for the first time and thinking “WTF is this BS?”

    i thought “crank that” was a parody.

    i thought “it’s goin down” was terrible.

    i thought the ‘stanky legg’ was gonna go away quickly.

    two weeks ago, i was in the club, with a bottle of goose in one hand… saucy.. and the DJ said, “nobody is too old or too cool to do this,” and next thing you know, yessss.. i was leaning to the side, doin the dougie with my off hand, and doin the stanky legg… grinning wildly all the while… and so was everyone else. and i was having a damn good time!

  • BeerGangsta

    It’s strange when people say South is dominating. I live in the South going to the West coast soon. South is borring. Atl,Miami,No,Houston is all the South has. La and New York still run the Music and Movie game. South are getting pimp! You go Independent. You still need a Bigger Recorod Company to push your shit out right. And market your videos. Set up you Concert.

    • http://mozillafirefox LI PUPU


    • D-Block

      i cant even lie the south is dominating. they are putting out more garbage than the east, west and mid-west combined.

  • Eljoy

    I went to a Hawaiian Luau party last weekend for some older friends of mines (40-50′s). However, when the young-bucks showed up later and hit the dance floor to start “jerkin” it was the highlight of the night.

    Shout out to all the Hip Hop dances around the nation.

  • *BLOCK*


  • http://sstp1885.com CL

    I 2 work with artist on the dancing sensation going on in hip hop rite now. I think its a good look, but its a gimmick or a throwback (retro) from hip hop’s history. Hip hop and dancing were always together, but for a minute it was just a lot of gangsta rap (grown rap) floating on air waves. But now its a mix and truth be told I like it.

  • http://XXLmag.com PerfectPoints357

    BeerGangsta what do you mean i quote” south are getting pimp” Why do folks find it so hard to give us in the SOUTH our props? I know yall cats from up North and the West remeber goin ta visit ya Big Momma’s and GrandDaddys in the south. The north set it off the the wes put they stamp on it and now the South doin they thing. Cats kill me with that its not music shit artist from whatever region gonna cater to they region they gonna talk about what they know and the everyday shit they experience. I dont take nothing away from Cali or New York music is music and the caliber of the music depends on who is listeningand how they judge it. Yea Soulja Boy do some simple shit but its muhfuckas out there who like it obviously cause dude sellin records. Beer Gangsta you said you live in the south but you aint FROM THE SOUTH.

  • Jstylez

    Dallas on the rise…

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  • $ykotic

    Everybody just wants to live good and have fun.

    I’d rather have these kids dancing their asses off than killing each other. ‘Nuff said.

  • ATF

    yeah here in the west coast everybody is jerkin and its dumb as fuck

  • http://xxl p

    can somebody please get queer gangsta of this site. he says non sense all the time.

  • http://xxl jg

    beergangsta you say a bunch of non sense all the time

  • Part 2wo

    Niggas in the south just don’t dance, we spit 2


  • http://www.jmack972.com JMack

    so is dallas the new motown? cause thats where EVERY last one of those dances are coming from. i would like to propose a petition signing to SECEDE all of this music to a completely different genre. because it gets in the way of the MANY talented emcees in the city of dallas let alone the entire south. im not one to categorize people but this shit really needs to get sectioned off. there is a place and time for it im not a hometown hater but i know too many grown folks that are so lost thinking this is ALL we have to offer which is the farthest thing from the truth. wat up DAMAGED GOODS!!! peace

  • 619

    blah, blah, blah…damn XXL fell off this month. Little kid dances in the South, Shawty Lo and Soulja Boy on the cover, a worthless story everyday about Drake, XXL is there everytime he takes a shit.

    • ejs


      Two questions:

      1. Where can I find a good carne asada burrito?

      2. When was the last time you been to Fam Mart?

      • 619

        I go to Trujillio’s almost every week over there on College Ave. by 54th St. They got a carne asada burrito wrapped in a quesidilla, ever since I tried it I get it everytime. Plus you can knock some bad college bitches on F

        • 619

          Damn musta hit enter on accident, but as I was sayin’ on Friday’s. I haven’t been to Fam Bam in a minute though, but Sunday’s used to be like a car show in the parking lot. Everybody in the parking lot drinkin’, flamed up, flippin’ the bird to the cops when they ride past. I’m regular Southeast like rolled tacos with cheese. hahahaha.

  • Donte

    alright i remember unk coming out with two banging ass songs and two remix to go along with them now that shit was hard but when its a new dance every week then there is something wrong where is the versatility at i mean there is defiantly nothing wrong wit the songs but its not cool to be like “thats hot you know i’ma make a dance song just like that nigga ” what every happen to being original(88-2001)

  • JP


  • http://www.xxlmag.com CrazyC

    What the hell soulja boy don’t fit in I don’t have a problem what he’s doin his thing but he never been shot killed somebody or never had a hood like The Game, T.I., and Ludacris so I don’t think he fits in.

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