Cranking, popping, leaning, rocking, and snapping; these terms, which aren’t traditionally musical, evoke potent cultural memories in a specific time period of my adolescent youth. They were the key terms to a mass-marketed but distinctly folk-based music with its origins in the southern region of America. Some called it ‘hot trash’ while others lived and breathed the music. I called it ‘snap music’, and it was a music that was indicative of the time, place, and culture I grew up in.
From the ever handy source of Wikipedia, snap music is known as a ‘dance-centric subgenre of hip hop music’. During my high school days, I didn’t know the technical name for it. I just knew it was fun; leaning and rocking in an intimate circle, using the snap heavy music as my wingman to catch at least one girl’s attention that night. The musical qualities of the genre are simple; add a pounding bass drum, tie-in some repetitive snapping, come up with a catchy hook, and you got yourself a song! A good example of this type of music is shown here. Snap music pulled heavily from hip hop influences, and if you trace back far enough I would say that the dancing practiced in the songs are directly related to the dancing practiced in black culture, making it a distinctly black music. The question is, how?
Snap music originated in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia. It grew from a culture that was established in the housing projects of the inner-city. People say that the music became famous when the group, Dem Franchize Boyz, made the hit single “In My White Tee”, but I would say the musical style grew to even bigger proportions when the song “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” hit airwaves. The universally appealing hits flew up the chart of the Billboard Top 100 and instantly became popular.
One should note that snap music was really cheap to make and with social networking taking off around this time it was really simple to attract an audience. Also, the vernacular expressed in the lyrics of the music was directly pulled from contemporary southern black dialect making it easy for black youth at the time to understand it.
I didn’t know it at the time, but snap music and the culture attached to it produced one of the fondest cultural memories I have to date.