Urban Beats Meet Rural Traditions


So, I’m the new guy. I just thought I’d introduce myself. I like music. I think it’s pretty alright. It can break, it’s malleable, sometimes a bit obstinate, but it never stops moving. Regardless of how extended a single chord is sustained, there is always a part of it that putters along the atmosphere until it is welded into the diegetic sounds that envelope our daily lives.

I like hip-hop. It is relentless in its quest to keep people moving. Whether it’s a deep, rib-cage shaking groove or a seizure invoking break-beat, hip-hop is capable of mimicking the disposition of the heart, physically, as well as emotionally. While scouring through the waves of FM radio, it becomes apparent that the substance of these popular hymns is dissipating such to the point that, to me, it is difficult to dismiss the similarities between the lyrics of mainstream rap and the cowboy hatted calls of a western square dance.

Though a dancer is free to interpret the meanings of lyrics, it has become the norm for the lyricist to monopolize the dance floor. The MC commands the dancer to move in a specific figure, synonymous with the typical square dance caller. The song “Walk It Out” by DJ Unk embodies this analogy. The first verse reads:

” Now Hit The Dance Floor
Hey Bend Yo Back Low
She Do It With No Hands
Now Stop, Pop, And Roll…”

With an onslaught of contorting directions, Unk has composed nothing more than an urban quadrille, dictating to the feet and body of the dancer where to go, how to do it, and how other people are interpreting his instructions. Along with DJ Unk’s conspicuous and monotonous arias, are rappers Dem Franchize Boyz, churning out lyrics like, “Lean wit it, rock wit it.” Had this call been vocalized in a Texas ballroom, it translate to, “Forward and Back,” implying that the dancer move forward three steps, and on the forth reverting back to their original position. Lil Jon is also two left and right “Alemans” away from crossing over from iced-grill bearing king of crunk, to a sterling bolo tie wearing square dance caller with his song “Snap Yo’ Fingers.”

The question arises: “Do we really require this much direction in order to dance or feel compelled to do so?” In the song “Power To The People” by Public Enemy, the overture reads, “Get on up and get involved, FEEL the bass as the cut revolves.” Chuck D urges his listeners to take the beat into their own hands and craft it, allegorically referring to a concept of greater importance. What has changed? Is change needed? Or have we grown tiresome of the prophetic scriptures that have forever been etched into the confines of the vinyl record?

Express yourself. Write. Dance. Yell, but not because DJ Unk tells you to.


  1. haha. 93.9 jams, country ho down for all my brothas! i wonder where GO-GO fits into all this, or has that only invaded washington DC?

  2. wow

    thats too funny. a little scary.

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