This past summer, California rap duo the New Boyz, gave the regional phenomenon known as “Jerkin'” its first crossover hit.
The group’s first single, “You’re a Jerk,” was an instant hit. The upbeat single peaked at #24 on Billboard’s Top 100 and #13 on the R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart.
“Everybody was jerkin’ and making jerkin’ songs, so we knew [the song] had the potential to be something worldwide if it was done right,” said group member, Ben J.
This forward thinking worked and introduced the rest of the country to the “jerk movement.”
“You talk about all the people jerkin’ in the club…what about the people who don’t know what jerkin’ is? They can’t relate to the song. But with, ‘You’re a Jerk,’ people that don’t know what it is can still relate to it,” he continued.
Jerk music usually consists of a minimalist beat made on computers and “jerkin'” is the dance counterpart.
When the dance form is performed, it looks like repeated hops, skips, and of course, jerks, to the beat of the music.
Individuals adopting the “jerk style” in terms of fashion can be spotted in uniform skinny jeans, a graphic tee or flannel shirt, Nike Blazers, and a baseball cap.
“Their particular style is pretty comfortable to me,” said Karl Hooks, Jr., 18, a freshman business administration student from Dallas, TX.
“I can’t relate to the 50 Cents and the Ice Cubes in terms of fashion because I’m more of a cool kid type dresser,” Hooks added.
Hooks’ sentiments are shared by others at Florida A&M University, even those who are not from the west coast.
“I like it!” exclaimed Rashad Lott, a freshman criminal justice student from Jacksonville, Fla.
“It is giving more exposure to that style,” Lott added. “That’s the type of stuff I’ve been on!”
Although Lott doesn’t approve of the degree of skinny to which some may go in terms of skinny jeans, he believes the New Boyz , along with the hipster style, will be influential on the urban community.
“Maybe it will make people dress better or at least more expressively,” he said.
Earl Benjamin and Domonic Thomas, known publicly as Ben J and Legacy met as freshmen at Hesperia High School in Victorville, California.
It was here that the two discovered each other’s affinity for music and became the New Boyz.
A group that has been named, “the young teens of hip-hop” by The New York Times, is bursting at the seams with youthful expression. Their sound, street slang, and eclectic fashion sense make them unique among today’s music artists.
Benjamin and Thomas celebrate their October birthdays only one day apart, and before their big break, the duo combined their money to purchase studio equipment.
With the equipment, Legacy made the catchy beat to “You’re a Jerk” with the help of YouTube tutorials.
“In order for us to make money, we had to make beats,” insisted Legacy.
With one hit under their belts, the New Boyz are putting the finishing touches on their debut album, “Skinny Jeanz & a Mic”. The album is due in stores Tuesday, September 15.