If you don't bust a groove when you hear one of your favorite hip-hop songs, things are about to change. At hip-hop’s beginning, dancing was a major element within the culture. Any park in the Bronx, N.Y. was sure to have a piece of cardboard laid out and a booming system nearby for b-boys and b-girls to get down. These days, breakdancing isn't as popular as it once was but moving to the music is still very much a part of hip-hop -- even if you have two left feet.
In the last 10 years, there has been quite a few dance movements popping up in every region of the country. From jerking on the West Coast to twerking down South, when certain songs come on, there's always that one person that knows which moves to make while the beat rocks. In the early 2000s in New York City, the Harlem shake couldn't be denied. In 1994, the Tootsee Roll was the thing to do in Miami. Pop up at a BBQ or local block and it's apparent the kids are churning out a new dance on the regular. The older hip-hop heads just have to play catch up. But no worries, The Boombox has got you covered. Check out 20 Best Hip-Hop Dance Songs You Need in Your Life.
East Atlanta’s own Lil Donald never would have anticipated his song “Juice” blowing up as quickly as it did. This was particularly because he's not the one that came up with the dance that made the track explode around his city. “Juice” is on its way to becoming a viral sensation even as the 20-something-year-old spits some gritty lyrics over the track. Donald released the song in March of 2015 and shortly thereafter, dance group WeAreToonz created a series of steps to go with the song. Once the artist, signed to indie label Kuhnsinity/BPE, noticed the traction of “Juice” when coupled with the dance moves on social media, he ran with the energy. Now he is preparing to repackage his Falling Apart mixtape and is in talks with Future’s Freebandz imprint. Talk about having the juice.
Brooklyn native 2 Milly is at the center of New York City's newest dance craze, the Milly Rock. Seems like the five boroughs are finally angling themselves to bring dancing back to the forefront. The track is bass-heavy and almost ominous-sounding until you see the dance -- a simple two-step with a shift in the hips and swinging arms. 2 Milly is garnering some national attention and he already has people wanting to Milly Rock on every block.
During the summer of 2004, Fat Joe and his Terror Squad found themselves enjoying some infinite success with their track “Lean Back.” The song encouraged those squeamish about dancing publicly to engage in some moves that were a little more subdued. The dance consists of simply crossing your arms and swaying side to side, while of course, leaning back. Joe and Remy Ma managed to bring some lyrical content to a dance track, which was virtually unheard of. “Lean Back” was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. It was the club smash of 2004 from a group that no one expected could do such a thing.
Think of the Stanky Legg as being the Tootsee Roll, but cut in half, making it permissible for both men or women. The GS Boyz from Arlington, Texas, found themselves in a whirlwind of success in 2008, when they dropped their debut single "Stanky Legg." If you want to get down, you stick one leg out to the side and rotate it without taking your toe off the ground. Then you switch to the other leg after a few beats. The song sold over a million records for the crew and helped put Dallas dancing on the map nationally. Unfortunately, the GS Boyz haven't had too much radioplay since.
You may be unsure of what the Los Angeles-based Rej3ctz are talking about on this "Cat Daddy" song but it sure is catchy. The kids love it. And when it dropped in 2011, Chris Brown's cosign made the track even bigger. The guys explain how to do the dance within the verses ("Move your arms like you're wheelchair stuntin'") so it's worth an awkward try or two. The Cat Daddy stuck -- even Sports Illustrated swimsuit models like Kate Upton were doing it -- but the song had sort of a lukewarm reception, peaking at No. 77 after 14 weeks on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B charts.
"Chicken Noodle Soup"Webstar & Young B Feat. AG
Young B isn't a kid anymore. She isn't marching down a Harlem street in all white demanding that you "let it rain and clear it out" either. She hasn't done that in years. B, who goes simply by Bianca these days, is still rapping but 2006's "Chicken Noodle Soup" with DJ Webstar is the song that made her a household name -- at least for a little while. Her neighborhood hadn't seen a dance take off like this since the Harlem Shake (the real Harlem Shake) five years before. Leave it to the cats in uptown New York to come up with a few steps for the club. Still, there's no distinction as to the connection between this quick shuffle, chicken soup and a side soda.
"It's Goin' Down"Yung Joc
Atlanta rapper Yung Joc wasn't planning on creating a dance synonymous with his 2006 smash "It's Goin' Down," but the "motorcycle" move took off. The production, heavy with synths, was perfect for Joc's gravelly tone and clever lyrics about everyday stunting. "Errbody love me, I'm so fly / N----s throw the deuces every time I ride by / I know you wonder why, I'm so cool / Don't ask me, just do whatcha do...," he rhymes. Once rap fans saw the video and spotted the Bad Boy South artist doing the dance, it was settled. The "motorcycle" would be the only thing to do every single time "It's Goin' Down" came on at a party.
Brooklyn's having a bit of a run these days with the dance movements. The popularity of Bobby Shmurda's Shmoney dance in 2014 seemed to happen accidentally. In fact, older hip-hop fans took one look at the rapper bobbing around, throwing his hat in the air, twisting his hips and flailing his arms and said, "That's the Diddy dance." True enough, it was Diddy's dance since the days he went by Puff Daddy. There was something about the way Shmurda did it with his delivery that made the steps fresh as if it was brand new. Maybe it was the heaviness of the production -- when the drop hit, fans of "Hot N----" knew that was the moment you let your body dip to the side, bringing your arms up and around your head. The dance just seemed perfect for the track, which blew up in no time nationally. Unfortunately, on the record, Bobby Shmurda drew some unwanted attention to his activities off wax and is currently fighting some serious legal troubles from jail.
"Crank That (Soulja Boy)"Soulja Boy
The release of "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" in 2007 made then-17-year-old DeAndre Way a superstar. His debut single sat at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and garnered him a Grammy nod in 2008 -- all off of a track he made at the crib. In the midst of Atlanta's snap rap phase, Soulja used his own Fruity Loops software to create an uptempo beat, then he put some instructional lyrics behind it on how to do the Soulja Boy, which, if you were grown at the time of the song's release, sounded ridiculous. But the younger cats loved the track and if you had the steps down, the Soulja Boy didn't look so bad after all.
The New Boyz found themselves in the middle of a national sensation when they dropped the summer smash of 2009, "You're A Jerk." Jerking was already a dance in their Cali hood but the popularity of the song had people thousands of miles away wanting to participate. The song was the first single from their debut album, Skinny Jeanz and a Mic. The popularity of the record can be credited with the LP peaking at No. 56 on the Billboard 200 charts. The Jerk mainly consists of a sort of hop and skip and there's enough room to bring your own creativity into it. Jerking had been strictly West Coast up until that point but the New Boyz made it cool to wear jeans tight enough to move around in while bouncing back and forth to a rhythm.
Atlanta's DJ Unk was well known around the city years before he dropped the hit single "Walk It Out." The song out arrived in 2006, and was the highest charting hip-hop dance record of that year, peaking at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. Unk had everyone in Atlanta and beyond walking it out in no time. All the dance consists of is a simple two-step while on your tiptoes. Your arms are free to do any motions but most of the time, the dancer sort of rotates them in front of their torso. Beyond "Walk It Out," DJ Unk maintains legendary status in the A. Seems he was just trying the rap thing out around the time he released his debut album, Beatin' Down Yo' Block!. He's still well respected as a DJ and songwriter in the South.
In 1994, the Miami-based 69 Boyz dropped "Tootsee Roll" and the song went on to be one of the most recognizable tracks to come from the Miami Bass movement. The track was the lead single on their debut album, 199Quad, which garnered the project even more attention. The thing about the Tootsee Roll is that West Indians were already familiar with the moves -- it was already coined the Butterfly. The dance is sort of a slow grind, specifically for women, where they open and close their legs somewhat slowly and deliberately, putting a dip in their back, and an emphasis on poking out their derriere. "Tootsee Roll" was an instant smash, easily going platinum. The song also hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)"Silento
One factor that remains in the success of a dance track is getting the kids to fall in love with the song. That’s an almost guaranteed way to ensure that the track is played all day, every day, in every city. Seventeen-year-old Atlanta native Silento can agree to that. In early 2015, his song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” brought his career to new heights. He is already signed to Capitol Records, only six months into the year. The song basically runs through every dance that's come out in the 17 years of Silento’s existence. From the Superman to the more recent Whip, “Watch Me” is the perfect dance song for the kids at your block party or cookout -- all hyped up on candy and soda. It's a ton of moving as you'll see in this video, and sure to get the blood pumping. Silento doesn't have an official visual for the song yet but these little girls are partially responsible for making both the track and the artist omnipresent this summer.
"Tell Me When to Go"E-40 Feat. Keak da Sneak
Oakland legend E-40 has been a part of hip-hop for as long as some of the oldest dances on this list. On his LP, My Ghetto Report Card, the track “Tell Me When to Go” highlighted the hyphy dance movement in the Bay Area. The song borrows a sample from Run-D.M.C.'s “Dumb Girl.” 40 brought fellow rapper Keak Da Sneak along for the ride to do a feature and with the hard-hitting production in place, there was nothing left to do but shake your locks -- if you had some -- or simply jump around in circles. “Tell Me When to Go” was such a smash that the remix was star-studded featuring Kanye West, Ice Cube and the Game.
Lil Jon was already bumping with his crew the Eastside Boyz, but in 2006 he decided to go solo and his first offering was “Snap Yo’ Fingers.” The song was such a hit that the rapper was credited with being a major force in the new subgenre of snap rap out of Atlanta. The dance won because the routine was simple. All partygoers had to do was stand in one spot and tip their upper body to the beat, while holding their hands out to the sides and snapping once every few bars. If you were especially cunning, you could incorporate a few different moves within the space between snaps. The song ended up going platinum and launched Lil Jon's career far past the snap trap phase.
"Teach Me How to Dougie"Cali Swag District
Cali Swag District is easily one of Inglewood’s most light-hearted hip-hop groups ever. In 2010, the four young men (DJ C-Smoove, Yung, M-Bone and JayAre) dropped their first single, “Teach Me How to Dougie.” The song peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Dougie was everywhere all at once. The dance is fairly easy if you can keep the rhythm going. It's sort of a two-step derivative of the move Doug E. Fresh used to hit back in the '80s. Typically one would leave their arms free to do any slick sort of move whether it's just waving their arms through each other or smoothing their hair back. The remix was also pretty successful and featured big names like Jermaine Dupri. Sadly, since the success of the song, both M-Bone and JayAre passed away and the remaining two members have been laying pretty low since 2011.
"Let's Get It"G Dep Feat. P. Diddy & Black Rob
In the early years of the millennium, Harlem returned to the hip-hop dance scene with what was called the Harlem Shake. Bad Boy signee G Dep came through with the music that fit the jittery dance perfectly. Those that couldn't maneuver the moves would often scoff, describing it as “looking like a seizure.” That may be accurate in a sense, but a certain level of skill was necessary in order to make the Harlem Shake look clean and precise. The fact of the matter is, if the shoulders aren't shaking up and down alternately fast enough, you’d look as if you were struggling -- especially to the offbeat tempo of “Let’s Get It.” The level of creativity in doing the Harlem Shake is endless. One could grab their shirt or pop up their leg and grab their shoe -- it's a fun dance that took a little practice but G Dep made his money off of providing the soundtrack to the steps. A few years ago, there was another "Harlem Shake" that was wildly popular thanks to the internet but it didn't look nearly as dope as the original.
While Uncle Luke was crafting his solo album, I Got Shit on My Mind, he wanted a song that would stuck in the minds of everyone that listened to Miami Bass. The track “I Wanna Rock” changed the game in hip-hop dance music unequivocally. Luke began his solo career just after the final 2 Live Crew LP and the clubs devoured this new record. So much that “I Wanna Rock” is still one of the necessary go-to records at house parties and clubs everywhere, prompting young women to gyrate, shake and sweat until they're tired or at least until the song's end.
"Humpty Dance"Digital Underground
Back in 1989, Digital Underground was the group that had everyone moving, including Tupac Shakur. The Bay Area-based group debuted, unafraid to bring good ol’ fashioned fun to hip-hop in some tumultuous times. The "Humpty Dance" may have looked silly but when the beat dropped during this particular song, no one could resist planting their feet a few inches apart, then dipping while waving their arms backwards in a sort of reverse windmill. The track instantly took off and even the hardest hip-hop hits couldn't resist but to do the Humpty Hump.
EU hit the jackpot with "Da Butt" in 1988. The song was known to many after watching Spike Lee's classic movie School Daze. The beauty of this dance is that it's simple enough for anyone to catch it. The steps -- if you can call them that -- consist of bending over and shaking your rump. Easy enough, right? "Da Butt" has a nostalgic feel in the club today but many of the dances in 2015 are still somewhat derivative of the DC group’s smash song. Once the congos come in and you catch that go-go feel, it's instantly on and poppin' wherever you may be.
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