Gangsta Walking (often referred to as: G-Walk , Buckin, Tickin, Jookin, or Choppin) is a street dance that originated in Memphis, Tennessee alongside "Buck" music during the 1990s. The Gangsta Walk is commonly performed to crunk music due to the particular 'bounce' in the beat and the movement the dancers make to keep with it. Though Gangsta Walking has been around for many years, much of the dance is still exclusive to the city and surrounding areas.
The origin of the Walk itself is a mystery. Gangsta Walking has constantly evolved over the years into the much smoother version it is today. Some state that this style was created during the early 1980s, a Memphis-based dance & rap group, G-Style (composed of Romeo, Wolf, and Hurricane) went to New York City and saw dance the most practiced dances (e.g. breakdancing, popping, gliding, locking, etc.) and incorporated these styles into the traditional Walk. Breakdancing was an earlier from of street dance popularized in the street scene of the 1980s film Flashdance, while hip-hop dancing was featured in several of the club scenes shown in the 2001 Julia Stiles film Save the Last Dance. When the Memphis-based dance group returned, they brought back a new style of Gangsta Walking that was notably similar yet was also a distinctly different dance that matched the new wave of rap music, which matched the beat down to the bass, snare and hi-hat. Others suggest a New Orleans connection. Early gangsta-walking in Memphis was often called "buck jumping", and "buck jumping" was another name for second-lining in New Orleans. The two cities shared a love for the Showboys' "Dragrap" (a song that would become the basis for New Orleans bounce music) and New Orleans performers such as Gregory D and Mannie Fresh often appeared at Memphis' Century 21 club on Winchester Road.
There is some speculation that the term may have evolved from a tune "Down South Jukin" by the popular Southern Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Due to video streaming websites like YouTube and social networks like myspace.com and others, "gangsta walking", "jookin', "choppin", "buckin" or whatever it may be called, has spread in popularity. In 2007, Memphis rapper–director–producer Young Jai, of Jai Productions / Black Star Enterprisers, released Memphis Jookin Vol 1 DVD. This DVD featured the new generation of jookers/Gangsta Walkers. It featured such Jookin as G-Nerd, Mike Doss, Chopper king, Lil Daniel, Dr. Rico,Brandon (BranNu) Lil Buck, Lil Black, Bobo, female Jooker Shuante, Underground King Keviorr, DJ Sidewalker, North Memphis Legend Lil Jayson and many others. This DVD helped springboard the Jookin/ Gangsta Walking movement. In November 2007, Jookin was featured on Channel 3 WREG-TV news in Memphis and also on Channel 5 WMC-TV. There are several videos on Jookin on memphisjookin.com  and Youtube.com, with some videos receiving hundreds of thousands of views in months and thousands of views in a week's time. Jai Productions and The Memphis Jookin community was also featured in the December 2007 issue of the French magazine Juste Debout as the Dance of the Month. Jai productions also released a solo Jookin DVD on G-Nerd entitled "Truth Be Told" and Tutorial entitled "Memphis Jookin wit G-Nerd". Jai Productions has also released the entire Memphis Jookin Vol 2. 3-part series, which showcases more of the Jookin community that is involved in the movement to help get this dance on the map. Nowadays our youth have somewhere to go and learn the Memphis style. Memphian Tarrik Moore And Marico Flake (Dr Rico) have opened U-Dig Jookin Academy, located in the Raleigh Springs Mall.
Perception of Gangsta Walking
Along with being a popular street dance, the Gangsta Walk is often viewed as a form of self-expression and relief from the hardships of living within the inner city. Some have even considered Gangsta Walking as being a less extreme kin of Krumping due to it steering many the youth away from street violence and exacting their energy into something positive and constructive. The dance can commonly be found in urban areas of Memphis like North Memphis, South Memphis, Orange Mound, Whitehaven, West Memphis etc.
Types of Gangsta Walk
There are variations of styles for the Gangsta Walk:
- One particular style requires the dancer to take (in a jerking motion) quick steps, stomp, twists and throwing their arms around all while moving to a beat, the best example being Crunchy Black's style, referred to as G-Walking. The style is considered the basis of all Gangsta Walking done in Memphis since the 1980s.
- Another style requires three or more people hopping around in a circle in a rhythmic motion, while throwing their hands into the air and yelling "Get Buck" or the lyrics to a Buck song. This style of the Gangsta Walk is more commonly referred to as the G-Train. It is said that this style was banned from the clubs shortly after being created due to the wildness it invoked in performers as well as onlookers. Reminders of its existence are still left behind in older clubs or closed down night spots around the city.
- The most known style of Gangsta Walking is within the standard crunk atmosphere, involving a crowd of people slamming and pushing off one another on the dance floor.
- The most famous and practiced style of Gangsta Walking around the city takes bits and pieces from other street dance styles like liquid dancing (the wave, tutting, tracing, contours and hand flowing), the robot, locking, popping, gliding and even breakdancing all merged with the traditional dance. The most recognizable moves in the dance are the dancers doing moves similar to the two-step between making another motion and spinning or walking on the tips of their toes. This style of the Gangsta Walk is mostly done by the younger generation and the generation behind them who grew up shortly after the invention of Buck music, thus titling it Buckin.
- Jookin' took the classic steps and combined a much smoother look caused by the music change in Memphis Music during the early 90's. Jookin is most noted for not only its smooth steps, but its heavy introduction of pantomiming into the dance styles. Jookin' emphasized footwork in a way that focused the crowds attention on the feet. Jookin is especially characterized by the dancers' abilities in sliding and stepping movements.
- Buckin' brought in the exaggerated movements of Gangsta walkin and Jookin. The movements were made to appear more expansive due to the buckness (exaggerated style) of the dancer – the most explosive style of Gangsta walking. Buckers began to lift the slide (of the feet) off the ground, creating even higher glides than ever seen before.
- Choppin' came in the mid 90's as dancers in Memphis started to add the animated effect of Gangsta walkin, jookin, and buckin to the dance floor. Choppin' consisted of stiffening the muscles until they began to vibrate and then moving while trying to create a very unreal stiff Gangsta walk.
- Icin', the newest form of Gansta walkin', is most known for the ability to slide with one foot while gliding with the other. Icers give the illusions of ice skating through the explosiveness of the movements they applied while gliding across the floor. Some nickname it "Blazing." Icin' also included different ways of freezing the body parts while carrying oneself around the floor.
Music videos featuring the Gangsta Walk
- Al Kapone - "Buckin' and Jookin'"
- Three 6 Mafia feat.Chamillionaire - "Doe Boy Fresh"
- Three 6 Mafia feat. Bow Wow & Project Pat - "Side 2 Side (remix)"
- Three 6 Mafia feat. Lil' Flip - "Ridin' Spinners"
- Project Pat - "Raised in the Projects"
- Da Volunteers feat.MJG - "Favorite Color"
- Huey feat T-Pain -"G5"
- Janelle Monae feat. Big Boi - "Tightrope"
- "Jookin' is tough to master, but it is catching the world's attention" (Aug 23, 2008) The Commercial Appeal, Memphis
- Beer and Rap
- "How to Do the PacMan arm wave dance move" (2010) WonderHowTo
- "Dance Sensation Lil Buck Teaches Us How to 'Buck Jump'" (June 29, 2014) genConnect
- on YouTube
- Memphis Jookin, Vol. 1 DVD: The History and Evolution of Gangsta Walking website
- Gangsta Walking the Movie Website
- Gangsta Walking the Movie trailer
- Jai Productions Music