I love my hometown.
Spanning from Disneyland, Hollywood, Venice Beach and still staying in tune with its [slightly problematic] wild-west, ‘last frontier’ sentiment, Los Angeles has been the birthplace of several culturally defining moments.With the inception of ‘gangsta rap’ in the 90s, Los Angeles joined forces with the West Coast hip-hop movement and the wild-west sentiment became reassociated and glamorized with ‘thug life’ imagery and popular turf war dances, like ‘crip walkin’. These images and associations between LA and hip-hop have been ingrained in popular culture for decades, and it’s hard to imagine why it has taken us so long to reinvent ourselves.
As the entertainment capitol of the world, you would think that after Ice-T, N.W.A., Dr. Dre and crip-walkin’ went out of style, LA would have quickly latched onto someone or something else. Truth is, we’ve tried that. However, as with every peak in social and cultural movements there has to be a dry spell. While the rest of the country has been consistently contributing to the evolution of the hip-hop movement, LA has been cast in the shadows, ‘dancing in the dark,’ so to say. For the past two decades, we’ve grown into that persistent and overachieving student whose talent has gone unnoticed due to impatience and poor timing–with Snoop Dogg as one of the few long-running exceptions, nothing has really stuck. Other than the [unfortunate] appropriation of auto-tune induced rhymes laced to electro-pop beats, LA has been desperate for something to pull it out of its hip-hop inferiority complex. Thank goodness for Jerkin’.
Jerkin’ is truly a product of today’s beat sampling/mash-up generation.
Similar to the ways in most popular songs are made through beat sampling, this new dance samples elements from breakdancing, the running man, Michael Jackson (of course), clowning, crip-walkin’…even acrobatic and ballerina dance forms. Bright colors, skinny jeans, and loud sneakers are its accompanying uniform. Other than perfect timing in LA and the rest of the world for that matter, Jerkin’ has been embraced with open arms for its creativity, youthful playfulness, humble beginnings and its revolutionary way of forming alliances among communities of youth that are often suspect to violence.
LA contributes to the Global Hip-Hop Movement
With the advent of Youtube, pop star sensations like Justin Beiber have become global sensations. Jerkin’s humble beginnings, as homemade dance recordings by high school friends uploaded onto Youtube caught on like wildfire. Now, 3 years later, Jerkin’ crews have sprouted up across America and the globe. Kudos to these creative kids whose lunchtime horseplay has turned into a global political movement.