If you don’t spend much time listening to independently produced regional rap music, you’d be forgiven for thinking that songs that spawn particular dance crazes died out somewhere around the time Fat Joe reimagined the dance-song format as a PSA against dancing itself. In fact, the form remains alive—even healthy—in generally isolated pockets of black youth culture. It may not be generating the kind of globe-sweeping phenomena as the Twist or the Macarena, but recent virally popular dances like the Nae Nae and the Cooking Dance have found some measure of mainstream traction, thanks in large part to professional athletes.
Over the summer, two such crazes have taken off from two opposite coasts. At the end of June, 20-year-old rapper Bobby Shmurda blew up out of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, to dominate the rap zeitgeist with his song “Hot N–,” which gives an East Coast spin to Chicago drill music. He possesses the kind of ineffable rock star charisma that makes him captivating even when he turns his back to his audience (showing shades of Jim Morrison). In the video, he deploys a move called the Shmoney Dance, which his GS9 crew co-hort Rowdy Rebbel first introduced to the world through its titular song back in February (though few noticed at the time). Since then, Shmurda has signed a deal with Epic Records, made a rather enthusiastic fan of Lil Wayne, and turned the Shmoney Dance into the latest celebrity fad.