Photo by Glynnis McDaris
You might see Elephant Man rocking his signature army fatigues, trench coat, and yellow sneakers, and think, "Finally, a genre of music that allows artists to dress like elementary-school teachers." You might witness a whole club doing the "Give Dem a Run" dance and, mistaking it for a bastardized version of the Running Man, say to yourself, "At last, a culture where it’s okay to let your freak flag fly." Well, you’re mistaken. Dancehall is actually governed by a rigid set of unwritten rules. Bust out that funny dance you were doing last week to "Flex Time to Have Sex" and you’re in for the humiliation of a lifetime. Luckily, we got your back. So as to not put your fate in the hands of ruthless rudeboys, we got Elephant Man to break down dancehall’s codes of the day.
VICE: What are the right things to do on the dance floor nowadays?
Elephant Man: It’s all about the new dances from Jamaica. We do the Hand Cart, that’s like pushing a wheelbarrow or a supermarket trolley. We got the Blazé, that’s a foot-and-hand movement. The Gipsy Wine, that’s just for the ladies. It’s like in Egypt when you see the ladies moving like a snake.
So what’s a bad look for the females?
The Butterfly. When a girl do the Butterfly, she reminds me of old women, like a 60-year-old lady who doesn’t got no television, who doesn’t got light at her house, she doesn’t got no friends, she doesn’t know what the fuck is going on. She did a year in prison and just got out. For men, the corniest dance is the Della Move. It’s a foot move from way back in the old-school reggae Admiral Bailey and Shabba Ranks days. If you do the Della Move it’s a big mistake. Everybody will tomato you, run you out of the club and laugh you to scorn.
How about if I battle you, what would be the biggest no-no?
If the two of us are battling and I just did an ill verse about shooting you up and killing you, and you come with a verse about girls, that’s a mistake. I just did an ill gun tune about shooting up your brain and shooting off your toes; how the fuck are you going to tell me about the girls that want you? You got to tell me that you got a bulldozer that can shoot off my head. Then I can tell you that I got something like the Hiroshima bomb: When I drop it, grass no grow back. So that kills your bulldozer, kills you, kills the ground you stand on, kills everything.
Elephant Man’s album Good To Go is out on VP Records/Atlantic.