Raleigh rap trio scores a hit off John Wall dance craze

Staff writerJune 17, 2010 

  • Raleigh be the city where we like to do the dance

    Flex to the left, throw some money out ya hands

    Do it for the city and we do it for the fans

    To ball like Wall, boy, you gotta do the dance

    Everybody do the John Wall, John Wall...

When Raleigh's John Wall made his first court appearance in a Kentucky Wildcats uniform, he did a flexed-fist power gesture that instantly became known on dance floors as "The John Wall."

And because every dance move needs a soundtrack, the Raleigh rap trio Troop 41 saw an opening. Thus we have "Do The John Wall," which sings the praises of the 6-foot-4 point guard and his hometown, while urging listeners to "flex on these haters!"

"We've known John Wall for a long time," says Tristian "T-Breezy" Brown, 18, of Troop 41. "We grew up playing sports with each other. Then he went to Kentucky and started this dance craze, but there was no song to go with it. So we sat down one day and decided we should do that, went into the studio and did it. We talked to John, and he's 100 percent down with it. Now everybody's catching on to it."

The likely No. 1 pick in next week's NBA draft, Wall saw his celebrity status in the basketball world snowball during his final prep season at Raleigh Word of God, as a herd of college programs, including N.C. State and Duke, wooed him during an extended recruiting period last spring. Widely considered the top prep recruit in the country last year, Wall ended up signing with Kentucky.

In his one season with the Wildcats, he averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds a game while leading Kentucky to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.

Even before his freshman season began in earnest, videos of fans mimicking the arm-flexing move that Wall showed off at the Wildcats' season-opening "Big Blue Madness" were popping up online. A cast member on the ABC sitcom "Cougar Town" - Josh Hopkins, a Kentucky fan - flashed the move during one November episode.

While "Do The John Wall" has yet to appear on a physical product, the song is available on iTunes and it's all over YouTube. The initial version appeared in February just in time for the NCAA Tournament.

A video followed last month, picking up a total of more than 500,000 views.

The song's low-tech video features Troop 41 and friends attired in John Wall T-shirts, flexing and frolicking with basketball goals and Raleigh's skyline as backdrops. The home-made video has certainly raised the profile of Troop 41, although the group remains unsigned.

The group's name comes from the sum of the three members' ages when they formed four years ago: 14, 14 and 13. Brown says the group formed at Ligon Middle School in a hip-hop elective class.

"Well, it was actually a poetry class," says Lester Francis, the language arts/social studies teacher who taught it.

"But it was called 'Freestyle Poetry' to get more kids interested. They were pretty dedicated in their writing. I don't know much about rap beats, but I do know about poetry. So I let them write as much as they could."

Brown, Dakare "Lil Inferno" Wilder and Lelynd "Lil Lee" Darkes teamed up when Francis broke the class into groups for an assignment to put poetry to music. The trio stayed together and performed at a year-end talent show where they "brought down the house," Francis says.

"I actually didn't know they had continued on as a group until this," Francis adds. "I'd heard kids in school talking about 'Do The John Wall.' But I had no idea I had any connection to it."

david.menconi@newsobserver.com or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat or 919-829-4759

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