The Ten Best Hip-Hop Dances, With Illustrations


That's an email I received last week. The whole thing. That's all it said. Bolded and everything. It came from a guy I've met three times. I guess don't necessarily hate him, but I don't like him that much either. I mean, if he came to my house to hang out I'd be like, "What's up, man," sure. But I wouldn't offer him cereal or anything. Or, unless we had Cheerios. Ugh, he can eat all the goddamn Cheerios he wants. They're the worst. I don't imagine having your crotch set on fire is any less enjoyable than eating a bowl of Cheerios.

Anyway, some context: Two days before I received that particular e-assault, I sent out a mass message to fifteen different people with a link to the video at the head of this post.

If you were born near the early '80s then you likely have a genuine appreciation for Humpty Hump and his affection towards coitus in the bathroom of fast food restaurants. His wide-mouthed timbre was just too likeable, too infectious, Digital Underground's wobbly and wonky atmospherics too enticing; somehow, despite seemingly courting it, it stepped right over irony and into sincerity. (I remember authentically carrying around the cassingle for the song in the front pouch of a fanny pack, which is probably 1000X IRONIC COOL today.)

The email chain eventually evolved into a remembering of the best hip-hop dances. It grew longer than I care to admit, and ate more time than was justifiable, but led way to a pseudo-countdown of sorts. What follows is a ranking of the best hip-hop dances of the last 30 years.

There were no real restrictions or rules to this thing, only that if it came on wedding you were absolutely going to get up and move your limbs and torso. I do not agree with the rankings entirely (The Humpty Dance is placed offensively far from first place), but I suppose that's the point of these things sometimes.

The Ten Best Hip-Hop Dances, With Illustrations
Illustrations by Shea Serrano

10. Digital Underground, "Humpty Dance"

Again, I HATE that this one was voted into 10th place. I'm saying, Humpty's the one that said just grab 'em in the biscuit. That type of life advice should've helped him wiggle up to AT LEAST sixth place.

9. Gucci Crew II, "Cabbage Patch"

An iconic dance, undoubtedly. Still, I don't figure too many people knew/know there was/is an actual Cabbage Patch song. Does anyone still make Miami bass music?

8. New Boyz, "The Jerk"

Said one of the girls in the email chain when this song's name started getting mentioned: "What's that? Sounds stupid. I hate it already." After somebody sent her this song: "OMG I LOVE THIS SONG NUMBER1" Thanks for this one, L.A.

P.S. The basic form is easy enough to do, but all that bouncing from standing to the floor to standing? Fuck you and your 17-year-old knees, 17-year-olds.


7. GS Boyz, "Stanky Legg"

One of the pivotal moments in the South Dallas Swag movement*. In Texas and its surrounding states, THIS SONG WENT SO HARD IN THE CLUBS. The first time I heard it out was when I was at this really shitty place in downtown Houston. When it came on, I mean THE INSTANT it came on, everybody lost their fucking minds. It was amazing. I questioned the validity of sticking one's leg out and wiggling it no more after that moment.

*Every bit as intolerable as it sounds.

The Ten Best Hip-Hop Dances, With Illustrations

6. Experience Unlimited, "Da Butt"

I remember playing football in middle school, one of the coaches used to always shout "You gotta keep your backfield in motion!" to the running backs. I'm not sure if he was accidentally quoting the song or purposely quoting the song in an attempt to be funny or purposely quoting the song in an attempt to be creepy, all I know is he had the biggest nose I've ever seen in my entire life. He was less a human with a big nose and more a big nose with a little human attached. So weird.

5. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, "Crank That"

Soulja Boy might've been the first great marketer of rap's Internet generation. It is highly likely that hundreds of millions of hoes have, in fact, been superman-ed because of him. Respect.

4. Dem Franchize Boy, "Lean Wit' It, Rock Wit' It"

I suspect this one worked its way up past songs that it was inferior too simply because the dance is so palatable and discernible. You simply lean, shift your arms, then snap, lean, shift your arms, then snap. It's nearly impossible not to look fantastic doing this one. Nearly.


The Ten Best Hip-Hop Dances, With Illustrations

3. ?, the butterfly dance

It has a history and an origin, I'm certain. But I refuse to look it up or read about it. I need it to remain a mystery for all of time. Maybe that's ignorant and maybe that's stupid and maybe that's selfish, but whatevs. We can't all go around upending nostalgia just for fun. As far as I'm concerned, my cousin Brian invented this dance. If there's a Wiki page for it, add that shit on there: Shea's cousin Brian invented this dance. Boom. Done.

2. 69 Boyz, "Tootsee Roll"

The butterfly? Uh-uh, that's old. Lemme see you tootsee roooooolllll.

I guess we're just all supposed to pretend like these two weren't the exact same thing then? Cool, cool.


The Ten Best Hip-Hop Dances, With Illustrations

1. Kid n' Play, That Scene From House Party


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