I have two left feet, so whenever a new dance comes around that doesn’t involve me moving my lower extremities, I go to the club every month to pay tithe to the dance gods in appreciation. From Sip, Lagos to Bank, Abuja and Cosmos, PHC, ever since dabbing took off, the dance gods must have had their offering and tithe plates filled religiously by folks like me. Sadly, just like they did with the Blackberry, they now want to make dabbing uncool when Nigerians haven’t had their fill. And the gods are not to blame, “they” are.
Blackberries Still Connect
The Blackberry was once the must-have device for execs and pretend execs everywhere. When Jay Z rapped –
Out the country but the blueberry still connects
(Jay Z “Encore”, 2003)
I was sold. I didn’t care whether he made a mistake or not, all I knew is that I saw a “blueberry” in my future. This was in 03/04, around the beginning of the GSM era. Mind you, basic feature phones still cost an arm and a leg, so I didn’t know how it was going to happen on my meager pocket money at the time but I knew it would – Jay Z rapped about it. However, I would have to wait 6 years for my first Blackberry, a Bold.
Late nights Blackberry Bolding
(Banky W “Omoge You Too Much”, 2010)
But besides people like me whose buying decisions is heavily influenced by music and culture, the more pragmatic phone user embraced the Blackberry primarily because it was the first smartphone that local networks built a custom data plan for. I mean don’t get me wrong, there were other pluses like BBM, the prestige and the ease of use, but that seemingly unlimited data plan was the clincher in the early days.
These days, culture has shifted and the Blackberry is treated like an antique in some parts of the world. Once a market leader, the company’s market share in the mobile space has shrunk to 1%. Nigeria and other countries in Africa and Asia make up that 1%. However, as the company transitions some of its phone models like the Priv from the BB 10 to the Android operating system, it will become increasingly harder to justify owning a Blackberry in 2016 and beyond, prestige or otherwise.
The history of the dab
Like most cultural movements, there’s some debate around who exactly started the dab dance. However, what isn’t debatable is that it started off in the summer of 2014 in Atlanta. The dance spread from the grassroots to the main stream but the first artists to truly embrace the wave was the Quality Control crew: Migos, Rich the Kid and Skippa da Flippa. From there, it permeated all aspects of life from mass media to sports to American politics.
Dabbing landed in Nigeria mid-way through Shakiti Bobo’s reign. The dance had already caught fire with teens on Snapchat and Instagram and started being a feature in popular music video like Wizkid’s “Baba Nla” towards the end of 2015. But perhaps two things that really brought it to the fore in Nigerian culture were –
1.) Goal celebrations by football stars such as Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingaard.
2.) DJ Enimoney and Olamide’s single “Oya Dab”, whose video was blatantly ripped off by Shatta Wale.
Kudos to Olamide and YBNL for being at the forefront of the last few dance steps to move Nigeria. Every dance was a hit, back to back. YCEE, however has made dabbing his own in recent months.
YCEE hasn’t even dropped his debut EP yet and they want to kill the dab. Paul Pogba hasn’t scored a goal in front of his home crowd at Euro 2016 and they want to retire the move.
But who are “they”?
American football star Cam Newton recently announced that he’s working on another touchdown celebration in the new season and that he’ll be retiring the dab celebration he helped popularize. Quavo of the Migos supports the move –
Shout out to Cam Newton, we’ll RIP the dab with him
Not again. Just like the Blackberry, which had the last bit of life sucked from it when its coolest and most popular customer Barack Obama announced on Jimmy Fallon that he no longer uses one, dabbing is on life support now that one of its originators and arguably its most popular practitioner Cam Newton have moved on.
But that’s life, a priest once said at a eulogy that death is a part of life and all good things must come to an end. In a few months, whoever is seen flicking their wrist, arching their elbow and bowing to the dance gods will be seen as an outcast but until some of us rhythmically challenged folks have an alternative, dabbing is all we’ve got.
*Music Tech Geek – This series is dedicated to discussing the areas where music, technology and youth culture converge *