From Atlanta -- the city that taught you how to crank that Soulja Boy, shake that laffy taffy, lean with it, rock with it, and walk it out -- comes a new dance that’s spreading across the country: the Nae Nae. Developed by teen quintet We Are Toonz, the dance is loosely based on Martin Lawrence’s Sheneneh Jenkins character from his 90’s sitcom “Martin.”
Group member CalLamar explains, “It’s really just based on a ratchet girl in the club dancing kind of funny and the best girl to describe it is Sheneneh from ‘Martin.’”
Through the use of social media, the funny dance -- and its G-Cutz-produced anthem “Drop That #NaeNae” (VPP/Skunkfunk) -- has soared in popularity in high schools across America. The group has used Vine, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to “reach out to the kids because that’s what the kids and the teens are actually on, they’re active on those websites,” says CalLamar. Consequently, there have been more than 1.1 million mentions of the #NaeNae hashtag in the past 90 days, according to Twitter.
If you think the Nae Nae is only for the kids, however, you’d be wrong. The dance has become so popular that collegiate and professional athletes have adopted it for their on- and off-field celebrations. Following their Jan. 1 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford, the Michigan State locker room became ground zero for joyous Nae Nae-ing. New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Lance Moore also broke out in the dance on Jan. 4 after scoring a playoff touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.
One of the song’s biggest supporters, literally, is 6’11” Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard. The perennial NBA All-Star shot a Nae Nae-themed skit with We Are Toonz that the group is still reeling from. “When we met Dwight Howard, it was crazy, like, ‘We was with him!’” gushes the group’s K.B. “And to be honest, it didn’t hit me till after he left ‘cause he’s like a big kid. He’s so fun, a lot of fun to be around.” And to add to the group’s celebrity-induced excitement, “then we saw TLC doing it!”
“Drop That #NaeNae” is also heating up on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airwaves where it rose 80% to reach 1.7 million listeners in the Jan. 20-26 Nielsen BDS tracking week. With programmers picking up on the song’s expanding popularity, expect the cut to debut on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop in the next couple of weeks.
As for what’s next for We Are Toonz and the Nae Nae, CalLamar states, “A big tour is coming real soon. We’ll be in Germany at the end of February, the beginning of March, so big tour. The tour dates will be released.” And if you think the Nae Nae is all We Are Toonz has to offer, think again: “We got more music coming.”