A '90s baby's reflection on the crunkest period in American history: 2004–2008
There’s no question that the “Whip/Nae Nae” is the defining dance of 2015. Even 10-year-olds are obsessed with it, and because young people control pop culture, we have to love it, too. Within the past year, the song and dance have permeated every facet of American culture. The track filled the background noise in Arthur Ashe Stadium as Serena and Venus Williams warmed up for their U.S. Open match, and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton recently tried to hit the move on the campaign trail (an unfortunate moment that deserves its own separate analysis).
Though today’s youth are obsessed with the Whip/Nae Nae, it’s important that we pay homage to the hip-hop dances that came before. When I was their age, a fresh-faced fifth grader, we were experiencing the Peak Black Dance Era (PBDA). America experienced the crunkest period in the history of the nation from 2004-2008.
Let’s take a look:
This was the year I went to public school for the first time, so I remember it with great clarity. I was in fifth grade and, coming from a small Montessori school, so everything felt lit. My introduction to PBDA started with the reign of the Terror Squad, as they encouraged us to all to maximize our cool and “Lean Back.”
Things only went up from there, because 2004 was also the year that Ciara started doing the matrix. While there was no way our bodies were going to display enough balance and dexterity to pull that off, we were lucky that she had some easier moves to share. Namely, the “1, 2 Step.” Not to be confused with your uncle’s classic, please-don’t-make-me-dance-for-real two step, this jig was high energy and turned any gathering into a party.
Then, in 2005, cute and casual officially left the building and crunk took over. It all started with D4L’s “Laffy Taffy.”
A year later, it got even realer. Dem Franchize Boyz, clearly inspired by their D4L predecessors, found a way to make the snap-pop move even more hype. They told us all to “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It.”
And once we had finally mastered the lean and snap, “Walk it Out” happened.
Followed by the “Pool Palace.”
And then, “Pop, Lock & Drop It.”
Do y’all remember this one? It was was a full body experience, a whole entire workout disguised as a dance. When the DJ played this song more than once, you knew they were rude AF because everyone was about to leave the party drenched.
Luckily, Yung Joc calmed things down again with The Motorcycle. He brought casual back for a minute with the shoulder shrug and original flicka da wrist.
The revolution came with “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” — the seminal line dance of my generation. As soon as you heard, “Yuleeeeee,” it was a wrap. You might have been chatting with friends, getting a plate of food or simply minding your business alone, but when those first notes came on, it didn’t matter what you were doing, it was time to get to the dance floor, find a place in line and prepare to crank that. This one dance spawned a million and one spin-offs. From “Crank dat Batman“ to “Crank Dat Yank“ and even “Crank Dat Lion King,” Soulja Boy inspired a lifetime of crunk.
The GS Boys closed out my middle school years and PBDA with a banger. A spin-off of the “Pop, Lock, & Drop It,” the “Stanky Legg” was all about swag (before saying swag got lame.) Nobody knew why the leg had to smell bad, but we still bounced low and threw it out when the song came on.
So, while the kids of the iPhone generation are feeling themselves as they hit the Whip, these 10 dances are a small reminder of what the elders left behind. Before y’all were turning up, we were getting crunk.