Dallas Hip-Hop: Swagger Like Us

Local artists make waves with D-Town Boogie, but the real test comes in 14 months

"The boogie's basically a whole combination, like a gumbo," explains Lil Wil, who along with Lil Shine and Fat Pimp are most responsible for the boogie's initial blow-up earlier this year, when "My Dougie" "Rack Daddy" and "Check Out My Lean" all started gaining popularity in the clubs and on regional radio circuits within a few weeks of one another.

"Now, for you to be boogying, you have to combine the Rack Daddy and the Dougie, I think," Wil explains. "It's always been around, but the Dougie and the Rack Daddy just stamped it. We put our own spin on it. That was all around the same time. We all gave it the same D-Town sound and rhythm."

The second dirty secret about the boogie phenomenon is that each beat is essentially the same, one created with high-hat hits and Roland TR-808 drum synthesizers with a few simple piano synthesizer sounds thrown in to create the melody of each track.

...and the Dougie. All pieces of the D-Town Boogie.
Ray & Peter Lek
...and the Dougie. All pieces of the D-Town Boogie.


Click on the thumbnail for a video feature of these dances in action.

"It's incredibly simple," says Play, half of Dallas' premier production duo, Play-N-Skillz, which has produced and created beats for national hits including Lil Wayne's "Got Money" and Chamillionaire's "Ridin'." "There's not much to it. It's just three or four parts, over and over and over again."

It's the simplicity that's key. With their repetitious sound patterns, each of these tracks—as well as smaller local crazes and newer soon-to-be hits—has been easily adopted into the boogie dance phenomenon, which, in turn, has made them obvious entrants into local club DJ playlists.

"The clubs have been behind us 110 [percent] since the start," says Wil.

"All these dances have been around since 2002 or so," says DJ Drop, who spins at clubs around town, including Cirque. The job has given him a bird's-eye view of the dance floor crazes of the past few years. "They'd do these dances, and there wasn't a name for them. So they mix it all together. That's why it's called boogying. Nobody's doing the same thing as anyone else. Everybody does it their own way, but it's the same basic moves. There's no right or wrong way to do it."

Of course, there's more to the phenomenon than just the dancing and the beat-making. Style plays a large role in the D-Town Boogie's proliferation. The way those who flock to it carry themselves plays a part too.

"All that matters is your swag," Drop explains, emphasizing the confidence in the postures and dress of those who dance the boogie. "It's more of a swagger movement than anything else. The boogie is just part of the swag. A lot of people can try to do it, but if you don't carry the swag with it, you can't pull it off."

The craze's quick spread throughout town is simply a matter of people liking what they're seeing.

"Nobody wants to be on the losing team," he says.

With New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta and Miami each boasting a hip-hop scene that has made a national impact in recent years, Dallas remains by far the largest city in the South without a storied past. Sure, there have been blips along the way—The DOC's run in the early '90s (a time in which, to the dismay of many current artists, he refused to acknowledge his Dallas roots) and Vanilla Ice's embarrassing run around the same time (a time in which, to the gratitude of many current artists, he refused to acknowledge his Dallas roots). Tum Tum's single "Caprice Music" earned national music video play in the summer of 2007, but there has never been a sustained movement or rash of successful local hits like this year's.

Wil and Drop say this year's success is simply a matter of Dallas patiently awaiting its inevitable moment in the sun by carefully watching cities such as Atlanta and Houston, taking notes on their successes and tweaking the playbook slightly to make the music, the moves and the swagger Dallas' own.

"In Atlanta, the beat's a little bit faster," Wil explains. "In Houston, it's slower. In Dallas, it's sort of in between those. And when we dance, we do it to the music you hear between the beats. We don't ride the beat out here. We've changed."

"Dallas has become like a gumbo of everybody," Drop says. "And people wanna be proud of where they're from. That's why everyone's jumping on the bandwagon. From midnight until 2, I can play nothing but Dallas music, and the club won't miss a beat.

"I've never been able to do that before. Never."


On a recent Wednesday night in Exposition Park, B-Hamp and Them GSpot Boyz, who, with "Do The Ricky Bobby" and "Do Da Stanky Legg" respectively, have become the newest players in the burgeoning boogie trend, were in a loft photo studio prepping for an upcoming tour of Texas, the Southeast and the Midwest by taking photos for posters and advertisements.

"This is my first everything," B-Hamp says excitedly and with an infectious smile spreading across his face. "My first single. My first tour. My first photo shoot. It's like they say: You go to sleep, and the next morning, you wake up and everything has changed. I'm kind of a celebrity out here now. It's weird."

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