Guys, I really missed the boat on this one.
A “Harlem Shake” video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a week or so ago. While I watched it and found it mildly entertaining, I didn’t realize that it had already grown warts and broken out into a crusty, full-on meme. So naturally, when I saw “Harlem Reacts to ‘Harlem Shake’ Videos” I felt compelled share this piece of pop v. hip-hop culture:
So many great things are said!
“They look like they just smoked some dust.”
“This would just be another vehicle for America to take off on and make money on.”
“If you’re not from Harlem, don’t do anything that’s associated with it.”
“And don’t try to be someone you not, basically. Stick to your roots.”
“Shit is corny!”
I “know” (scare quotes because after watching this, I don’t think I really know) what the real Harlem Shake is supposed to look like because I knew these two girls in middle school who would always set it off in gym class. That, or the C-Walk. It was all cool as hell.
This “Harlem Shake” thing is the boiling-painfully-under-the-surface pimple on my chin that I will keep coating with thin layers of prescription strength dapsone gel until it goes away overnight. I just … really hate that this is a thing demanding my attention in the social mediasphere.
Have our attention spans completely dissolved? This is how to go viral on YouTube these days: quick cuts, EDM. That’s it. Seriously, that has to be it. It works for Dom Mazzetti. I enjoy Dom Mazzetti.
What did you think of it? I’m actually curious, because I couldn’t watch the whole video. That’s 4 minutes and 9 seconds that I could spend doing a number of other important things. What if this were happening in the morning? It’s good that it didn’t because I would be irate if I wasted even a minute watching this when I could have been packing a lunch more substantial than, say, a handful of pasta without sauce.
And then my next thought is, “ohhhh I bet my electro/house friends have already been listening to Baauer for months, so it’s not really that cool if I start listening to him now.” Meanwhile, I’m writing all of this down instead of watching “Soylent Green,” which I rented on Amazon around this time last night but proceeded to pass out and not watch.
No, I really need to watch this movie and not live blog my research into the Harlem Shake – I only have it for another 24 hours. Here are some links to articles about this phenomenon that I plan to read later:
“A Hip-Hop Moment, but Is It Authentic? Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’ and Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’” – New York Times, Feb. 19, 2013
“Meet Baauer, the Man Behind the Harlem Shake” – The Daily Beast, Feb. 17, 2013
“Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’: Gentrification Goes Viral: Trap-rave track games system, exploits Internet goodwill, blows up, grates nerves, inspires Azealia Banks” – SPIN, Feb. 19, 2013:
Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” that squeaky, wubby trap-dance instrumental that has, over the past few weeks, gone full-on viral thanks to endless videos of people dancing to the song, is a moderately interesting slab of post-drop dubstep or EDM. But the Harlem Shake is already a dance. A once-popular and very loaded dance, at that. A few decades old, it rose to the mainstream in 2001 thanks to Harlem rapper G. Dep (“Let’s Get It” and “Special Delivery”) and later on, in a slightly mutated form, as the Chicken Noodle Soup via DJ Webstar’s 2006 song of the same name. And the actual Harlem Shake — a joyful, free-for-all rhythmic vibration of one’s body — is quite different from the meme dancing found in these “Harlem Shake” videos, which is just kind of people wilding out in front of a camera. …
… In short, every time someone throws up a video featuring Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the owners of the song, Mad Decent, can remove that video, or if they want, monetize it. So, they have a monetary stake in these videos they are encouraging people to produce. Not that it matters too much, because only the illusion of an “organic” campaign matters here (and it’s all about gaming the system, anyway), but this is a very 2013 cash-out version of going viral. …
… The gentrification of the song is important, even if it just seems like more “SMH white people” craziness. … the web success of Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” does illustrate how having the right resources can Google-bomb something else out of existence. Try searching “Harlem Shake,” even with a telling, early 2000s-related second term and the result will be overwhelmingly skewed towards Baauer. Even “original Harlem Shake” yields videos from the early days of this campaign.
Duuuuude. The internet is about to break itself. Count it. We’re going to discuss this later.