Compare that with just about any Atlanta artist doing the dab, and the gross deficiency of swag will be immediately noticeable. First, there’s the very telling awkward gaze offstage as if he’s looking to Memphis Bleek or Ty Ty (pepper spray in hand, of course) for approval. He then proceeds to hit the most swaggerless dab in history. This is HOV. Instead of just sitting down, he had to try to be the cool old guy at the club and do a dab that made it look like he threw his hip out.
To understand where Hov went wrong, you must understand the newest dance craze out of Atlanta. The dab doesn’t require you to whip, nae nae, or Superman that ho. In fact, it doesn’t have much to do with footwork at all. “Dabbin’” has become ubiquitous in the past couple of weeks—in the NFL, NBA, and on social media. It's simple: tuck your head and put your arm above it like so:
To the uneducated, it may look like you’re having a seizure, or sneezing, but if done right, your dab should be undeniable. PeeWee Longway (a connoisseur of the dab himself) attempted to put an explanation to dabbin’ in an enlightening interview with DJ Smallz earlier this year. Taking the word away from the drug-related connotation connected to it (“dab” is commonly known as a potent, waxy form of weed), his explanation was easy. “When you put your favorite outfit on, you dabbin’ at that moment," he said. "It has to be fitted, though. It ain't for those with the big clothes."
The dance is a physical representation of the word, a means of highlighting the user’s confidence, swagger, and ability to put together a fire outfit all at once. You can’t dab in Jordache jeans and a long T-shirt.
The origins of dabbin’ are firmly rooted in Atlanta’s ever-evolving dance culture, one that sees a brand-new set of moves come from thin air more often than not. Last year, the “Hold Up” and “Nae Nae” caught on, with the latter going viral after Silento's manufactured hit single “Watch Me” became inescapable.
Unlike the dances that are named on "Watch Me," there is no real point of origin for where the dab came from. The most agreed upon originator of the move is Skippa Da Flippa, an affiliate of the Migos. His video for “How Fast” saw him combo a number of different dance moves into a dramatic dab sequence as he holds stacks of money and rests by the sea. In other words, he is the living embodiment of what the dance is.
In a strange twist of events. his influence on the dab caused a stir last August between his labelmates—Migos—and Maco Mattox (formerly OG Maco) about who really originated dabbin’. This didn’t deter the Migos, who have dropped a reference to the dance in almost every project they have done this year, including the catchy “Look At My Dab” that expands on the fashion-related aspect of the word.
To make matters even more confusing, Rich the Kid (who is also affiliated with all of these artists) said on Twitter that another Atlanta rapper named Jose Guapo started the dance over three years ago:
Jose Guapo made the dab dance over 3 years ago we been dabbin https://t.co/18j6ML8o0o— Rich The Kid (@IAmRichTheKid) September 17, 2015
Guapo can be seen in his video for “Fader” and in countless other vlogs dabbin' it up as early as last year. It’s tough to pinpoint the origins of the dance, but it is safe to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the Migos' own camp. While the verdict remains unsolved on the originator of the dance, we have seen some pretty embarrassing dabs in the past couple of weeks:
My dad dabbin pic.twitter.com/XJ73MkZ4Qm— Colin Sapp (@_colinsapp_) September 25, 2015
Don’t get me wrong: Jay’s dab was history-making in the sense that he finally descended from his yacht and grabbed up another viral sensation that his stans will no doubt be saying he originated, but it was also problematic in what could go wrong with it. Dabbin’ is almost like a secret club—it’s organic, and it’s cool. Last night it may have just gone past a “what do these kids know about this? I can do it too!” level of embarrassing. I had a dream that IHOP tweeted about their servers dabbin’ up syrup on an order and woke up sobbing.
I love Jay Z, and I love dabbin,’ but we may have to save it before Tom Cruise pulls a Yung Joc motorcycle dance on it. They let Hilary Clinton take the nae nae, but we have to protect the dab, beloved. It is in danger of being under new management.