[Editor's Note: Writer Jessica A. Koslow is a USC master's student writing her thesis on krumping. Know Your L.A. Hip-Hop Dances explores some of the most popular street dances in our city.]
“I'm C-Walkin' on the mutherfuckin' concrete,” raps Ice Cube on “Go To Church.” Other Crip Walkers include Xzibit, Kurupt, and Snoop, who does it in the “Drop It Like It's Hot” video, above. Indeed, while West Coast gangster rappers usually don't dance, they quite often C-Walk.
Background: The dance has its roots in 1970s Compton. As its name suggests, it was created and popularized by the Crips gang, and is characterized by hopping and twisting your feet in a V-shape. The C-Walker creates signs, gang symbols or letters that spell out a word. Crip-Walking can mark a major event, like a gang initiation. It's not exclusively used by the Crips — in fact, many gangs use it to create their own vocabulary. The Bloods even have their own version, called the B-Walk.
The dance remained confined to South Central for most of the '80s, until breaking out into the mainstream in the '90s. In an attempt to distance it from gang life, some folks began calling it the Clown Walk.
The C-Walk goes well with the West Coast gangsta rap G-funk grooves, which provide the perfect bass line. One of the most celebrated C-Walkers is WC of the Westside Connection. In 2000, he C-Walked in venues across the United States on the Up in Smoke Tour, as Ice Cube and Mack 10 looked on proudly (above). Even Omarion gets into it in You Got Served, below.
Red Flag: In his song “The Streets,” Snoop warns non-gang bangers against doing it, lest they disrespect it. In 2003, CJ Mac's documentary C-Walk: It's a Way of Living raises the question: Is it a dance or a gang ritual? (Many gang members insist that it is strictly the latter.)
A string of L.A. schools banned it in 2002. Kurupt was quoted on allhiphop.com as saying, “People have lost their lives over that dance.” But that hasn't inhibited some unlikely performers.
Below, a video of U.S. troops Crip Walking for Iraqi children.
Indeed, it has spread across the globe. Variations of the C-Walk performed by celebrities like B2K — as well as plenty of everyday folk — are all over YouTube.
The 2008 video above was posted of two U.S. soldiers in Iraq doing the C-Walk really well for cheering locals. It seems that, despite Snoop's warning, just about anyone who gets the urge can Crip Walk.