With day-glo tongues wedged firmly in cheeks, New Boyz are hard to resist.
Wendy Roby 2010
In some ways, New Boyz go out of their way to offend. Because before two minutes of their debut has elapsed, they’ve woken up in bed with a “fat” girl, worried they (lawks!) “might have said I love you” and offered an explanation. They only did “it” and said “it” because they were drunk. “Baby, I’m hungover,” they wail. Keats they ain’t.
But in the grand scheme of morning-after pop confessionals, this sort of cheekiness isn’t rare, and there are worse offenders. New Boyz could be forgiven because they are so very, very young – they know not what they do. But mainly we excuse them because Skinny Jeanz and a Mic isn’t your average, shiny RnB release. It’s about ‘Jerk’, and ‘The Reject’ and purple hair. And you might need some context to see why those things might matter.
Jerk is something of a niche concern as far as hip hop trends go – though with all those zeds in the song titles, the noisy artwork and a preponderance of comedy facial expressions, it does seem primed for the box marked ‘novelty’. But like hyphy and crunk before it, it has a pedigree. One, the music: LA-born, stripped-down, party music – produced on cheap software at home by young people, for young people. And two, the dancing: loose-limbed, floor-dipping moves that look like a slightly dafter, slacker take on break-dancing. The signature move is a reverse Running Man called – you guessed it – The Reject.
But unlike pop pigeonholes before it, Jerk’s popularity hasn’t suffered from hip hop’s usual East Coast / West Coast rivalries. Teens nationwide have engaged with the genre. And the requisite dance battles, outré female rappers out-saucing the men, makeshift YouTube videos and sheer lack of bling make it fresh, attracting the likes of Diplo (on producing detail here). Track two You’re a Jerk was the first, bona fide US Jerk hit, with its tinny electro and shouty sparseness breaking through on local radio before storming the charts. But there’ll be more.
Taken as a whole, the willfully blasé delivery, preponderance of Auto-Tune and sheer mindlessness of the party ‘bangers’ on Skinny Jeanz and a Mic could mean New Boyz are at the more polished end of the spectrum; we might be missing some of Jerk’s defining, unvarnished charm. But overall their sheer chutzpah wins you over – and with its day-glo tongue wedged so very firmly in its cheek, Skinny Jeanz and a Mic is hard to resist.