What you know about an ATL Talent Show?
Atlanta Georgia (Early 1980s)
The Southern United States
Within the confines of Hip Hop’s dance scene, three branches appear to accommodate the flames of passion:
And here we are again, scratching our heads.We know about breaking and popping.
Come on now, we saw Beat Street, Breaking, and The Last Dragon.But we have to ask again.
Just to be clear.
What the hell is Yeeking?
And what the hell does it have to do with Crunk?
Perhaps the answers can be found in a wooden stage in the SWATS, on a quiet and serene street called Mt. Gilead.
D.M.Therrell High School Talent Show
A Precursor to Reality Shows like American Idol, the event known as the Talent Show is a huge event for the American teenager.
However, in Atlanta, the Talent Show is on steroids!
Tonight, in the historic gym of Therrell High School, a monumental event is about to take place.
As the parking lot fills with cars and teens get off the MARTA buses and rush to get a good seat, the energy soars through the air.
Izod shirts, Sebago shoes, Guess jeans, and Legwarmers crowd into an old and worn-down Gymnasium.
As the host walks to the stage, the frenzied teenagers yell and scream and shout.This is the night they’ve been waiting for.
There’s more than magic here.There’s power and energy and a presence.And it’s EVERYWHERE!
And suddenly, the host speaks, “Tonight Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a special treat here on this stage and I promise, you will not be disappointed. For the first time in the history of Atlanta talent shows, the top four groups from around the city will compete in one talent show. No longer do you have to call your buddies and bet your Friday pizzas and chocolate milk about who’s the best. Tonight, you’re going to find out.“
Loud shouting and cheering!
“That’s right, tonight, we’re giving you what you’ve been waiting for. Tonight, you are going to see the following acts on one stage:”
- Your very own Kool-Aid and Raheem
- Broken Arms and Crooked Legs
- Hot Gritz and No Eggz
- and a new kid on the block – the infamous FDC!
Incredibly loud shouting and cheering from the crowd!
And with no further ado, let’s bring out the renowned Hot Gritz and No Eggz.
There it is.
The frenzy, the hypnotic trance!
The teens behind us scream and kick the back of our seats and we listen.
Shawdy, this is what I’ve waiting for!
This is going to be AWESOME shawdy!
I told Black and Junebug they should’ve come, they missed out, this is the best talent show of all times!
Of all times!
Of all times!
SSssssshhh, here they come!
Not your typical silence, but a new kind of silence, a dramatic silence.
The kind of silence before you light the stove to sizzle bacon.
The kind of silence before the flames explode from the Space Shuttle.
The kind of silence before a Nuclear Bomb explodes!!!
And the energy escalates with every performance.
The Hot Gritz performance is electrifying and intense.
Then, the Broken Arms gang entertains at a high level, totally intense,but a different feel.
And everybody is eating it up, we can’t get enough!
The only thing more intense than the energy in this place is the repeat button.
That’s right the repeat button.
Every ten seconds, from behind us, we hear the word shawdy.
Shawdy, shawdy, shawdy, shawdy, shawdy!
Oh God, put an end to our misery!
And just as we are sick to our stomachs and can’t deal with it anymore, a MASSIVE storm takes over the building and two rappers take to the stage.
And the beat is pulsing, pounding, engaging.
And one of them turns to the other one and they look out at the crowd and hold their mics in our direction.
And the crowd screams on cue.
Cause it’s AWESOME!
And the beat returns as each rapper delivers a powerful message about them being the greatest.
We’re caught off guard, we thought this was a dance-off because all the performers up to this point had been dancers.
But in our awestruck seats, we are entertained by two powerful personalities and we wonder what the future holds for them.
We look down and around, we don’t have any way of knowing.
We turn around to the teens, excuse me, can you tell me who was that on the stage?
Two girls giggle and laugh and murmur something under their breaths, then they respond.
That was Kool-Aid and Raheem, the greatest rappers in Atlanta shawdy!
Oh My God!Not Shawdy again!
Before we can respond, the lights flicker a few times and a heavy drum roll as a powerful beat escapes the speakers!
Finally a song we know!
As we groove in our seats, we eye the stage as a new group emerges and performs one of the most intriguing, intricate, and inspired routines we’ve seen.
We mean it, ever!
From the Freddy Krueger to the New York Smurf to the Prep, this new group is performing at a high and intense level.
The highest tonight!!!!
And we can’t take it, they got us.And we can’t sit, are you serious right now?
We get up and start dancing and moving and we’re unable to stop or slow down or even talk.
We leave our seats and follow the kids out into the walkway and against the balcony and in the aisle.
Wherever there’s room, we dance and dance and dance at a high pace.
For a few seconds, we look down at our arms and notice goose bumps.
On our arms!
On our legs!
They are all over our body!
But we can’t stop and well after the group leaves the stage, we are still dancing and grooving to Doug E Fresh’s The Show.
Boom! Boom! Oh My God!
And it engulfs us.
The beat, the dancing, the beatboxing, the lights!
And the teens surround us.
And push us to continue.
Every time we dance in a sequence, they chant.
And then we spin and bend down, close our eyes, and lose our minds.
Nothing is real.
There is light and darkness.
All in the same space.
There is no past or future.
There is ONLY NOW!
There is only music and our bodies.
In one harmony.
And when we stop, the frenzied twitching continues.
Our bodies still move.
They won’t stop twitching.
They want to go back.
From wherever we came from.
They want to remain in this frenzied state.
What is happening to us?
And one teenager taps me on my shoulder and smiles, “How does it feel to be so CRUNK shawdy?”