Pricetag and Oktane created a microscope on the jerking culture of SoCal when they released “Teach Me How To Jerk”. The semi-instructional single, along with the New Boyz‘s hit “You’re A Jerk”, made all regions aware of west coast trends not only in music but also in fashion. Since the 2009 wave of insanely athletic dance moves and high-energy tracks, the movement has halted almost into non-existence except for the lingering Dougie and eye-catching Cat Daddy. While the skinny jeans and bright-colored threads are still on the rise, the Audio Push duo explain to VIBE Vixen how the jerking wave shifted, why they’re staying away from what’s “trendy” and their upcoming projectThe 7th Letter. –Niki McGloster
To start off, just explain what jerking is or was as a whole.
Pricetag: A lot of the people who jerk and the clothes they wear we really don’t even condone because it consists of bright-colored skinny jeans and zebra and leopard jeans. The fly jerk wear is dope vests, jackets, but the skinny jeans was the stamp for the jerking movement. Vans, skateboard kicks and bow ties and all that type of stuff, but then the posers...
Oktane: They just take it extra overboard.
Pricetag: They’re trying to be so different that they’re being crazy. [Laughs]
So basically, you would say there’s the real jerking culture versus a fake jerking culture?
Pricetag: I wouldn’t say “fake”, I would just say [that there is] a fly jerking culture versus a you-try-too-hard-and-you’re-extra-and-getting-on-my-nerves jerking culture [Laughs].
[Laughs] Okay, so take me back a little bit. How did this culture develop?
Oktane: Jerking actually came from gang-banging. Like, it was a dance that gang members did. Like, the anti-dance. If you were in the party and everyone was dancing, [the gang members] would be doing the jerk. I’d have to be in front of you to show you.
Pricetag: It was gangstered out.
Oktane: Yeah. It didn’t look like a real dance. Then party kids took it, put extra fly moves to it, added the Reject and all that to it, and it just exploded once we started making songs about it and stuff.
Definitely. Its buzz has died down a bit now, but it still has a heavy influence in fashion. How do you feel about when it had completely taken over?
Pricetag: I feel like the wave died quick because the people of the culture didn’t really know how to capitalize on the culture. The people in the jerk culture made it become a gimmick versus it being a real movement, you know? And that sucked, but it was crazy. We just came back from Africa two weeks ago, and when we performed “Teach Me How To Jerk” out there, you would have thought Michael Jackson was performing.
Oktane: That’s not even joking!
Pricetag: It was that crazy, and then they just made us think how much it sucks that the movement didn’t get to last.
Oktane: It became so channeled into one dance and there’s still a grip of kids that do other dances, but since we’re so caught on jerking, it just died out fast.
So it does have an very international fanbase?
Pricetag: Definitely! It went international and those are the people who actually embrace it more. The people who aren’t from the States or from California, they’re the ones that go the craziest about it. People in California don’t really jerk no more; we definitely don’t jerk anymore!
Gosh! It died in the jerking “mecca” too?
Oktane: It’s not even that it’s the Jerk because there’s still other dances that the “jerking kids” do, but jerking is not the dance that they do anymore. Like, people still dougie. It’s just a style of dance when they’re in parties that’s not called jerking.
The Cat Daddy and all those type of dances are apart of that culture too, right?
Okay, so to clear up the confusion, what is the name for all of the dancing since jerking was only one part of the whole entirety?
Pricetag: All of it was called “jerking”, but so many people in the culture didn’t know how to explain it, and we could only explain it so much. Us and The New Boyz, there was only so much of it that we could explain. When we made our record, “Teach Me How To Jerk”, we tried to make it clear what was what, you know what I mean? But it was all called The Jerk. Now, I don’t even know what to call it because they’ll Jerk and Jig and Cat Daddy and Dougie. They’ll do it all in one. Now, we just gettin’ off.
Do you think it’ll come back in a major way again like it did before?
Oktane: I feel like dancing will never die as long as there’s music. There will never be a time when dancing will die. As soon as people stop being too cool to dance to music and whenever they realize there’s no age limit where you’re too old to dance to some music in a club, that’s when it’ll be back to where dancing is a huge part of music.
Pricetag: But I don’t think jerkin’ will come back. It was just something that came and went too fast. The Harlem Shake was around forever; the Chickenhead was around forever. Crumping is still around. See how people can still crump after twleves years and it’s really like a dance? Like, break dancing and pop locking that could have been jerking, but it wasn’t done right. The Cat Daddy is not going to be out forever. The Dougie is dying down slowly, but there will be new dances.
Now, let’s step back into the fashion of it all. How did you guys fall in love with skinny jeans and that whole style?
Oktane: Well Price had on skinny jeans before me, before anybody I know and before wearing skinny jeans was cool.
Pricetag: I was like 15, and I was just tired of dressing like everyone. I used to see punk rockers and skateboarders who dressed fly to me. They were fly period, and I liked it. I can honestly say that we branded a lot of this stuff in the jerking movement. You would see people like Pharrell [and] Kanye. They wouldn’t have skinny jeans on, but they would have slim fits or straight legs jeans on, but we just took it to the max. It just happened. And the foxtails? We branded that. We were the first people to ever wear foxtails. Everyone knows that we were the ones who started it.
It was more than trends for you guys, but how do you feel about the mainstream totally adopting that style? You’ve got Kanye West, Pharrell, Chris Brown…
Oktane: We gave Chris Brown his foxtail at the “Drop It Low” video shoot!
That’s dope. Did he ask for it or did you guys just hand it to him?
Pricetag: Well we were sponsored by a clothing line, Chubby Boob, and we had ‘em at the shoot. He wanted one, so I gave him and Teyana Taylor one. Then we gave Soulja Boy one at the “Pretty Boy Swag” video shoot. It was just everywhere, but it was dope to us.
Oktane: As far as it going into the mainstream, I like it. Me and Price are always on some new style; we’re never too stuck on something that’s going down. We used to get mad about it, but now it’s whatever, man. We got so much different stuff that we do every day when we get dressed.
What are the new trends that people haven’t gotten hooked onto yet?
Pricetag: In the just lookin’ good culture [Laughs], there’s a lot. I don’t consider myself in the jerking culture. I’m not a jerker. In the jerking culture, they dress weird to me. I don’t like the way they dress. It’s like watching your kid go downhill. Zebra pants, cheetah pants and they’ll be pink and yellow? That turned me off of the movement so fast, but we just dress fly. Like, I’m into Vans, and Oktane is into J’s.
Oktane: That’s probably the newest thing I’ll do. If a new J comes out, I’ll go and buy the Jordan and then I’ll buy the baby shoe and tie it on my belt loop and have the baby shoe matching the actual Jordan when I go out.
[Laughs] Something so different. Now, I’m sure you both have seen Chris’ video for “Look At Me” now, and the urban fashion world is kind of buzzing about throwback jerseys and snapbacks being very trendy this summer. What do you think?
Pricetag: That’s dope. I mean, as long as it’s fly. It came around once before and it was poppin’, so if it’s done right, it’ll be dope. It just sucks because so many people make it corny. Like, snapbacks. Snapbacks were the dopest thing in the world and so many weirdos started doing it and made it so corny. [Laughs] I’m for real, so you just have to have a lot of style. You have to move faster than the wave.
Oktane: I’ll just go get something customized if I don’t want to look like anybody else. That’s how far I’ll take it. If so many people start wearing throwback jerseys, I’ll go get the throwback jerseys and get my last name put on the back with my own number on it!
Dope. I think that uniqueness and ability to think outside of the box is what people are missing right now. They’re trying to keep up with what everybody else is doing instead of being an individual and taking a leap of faith on whatever you like.
Musically, what’s next or what’s going on now?
Pricetag: We have this new record called “Throw It Back” which is going crazy out here in Cali right now. That’s our new single and that’s our main focus right now. When we went to Africa, they went crazy over that song. By the summer, it should be everywhere.
Through the grapevine, Interscope dropped the ball with you guys. Are you looking to sign another major label deal?
Pricetag: We’re working out a couple deals right now.
Oktane: Let’s just say that mistake will not happen again.
Pricetag: Ever again.
When can fans expect your next mixtape and album?
Oktane: The easiest way to keep up with up is at @AudioPush. We’re working on this free album called The 7th Letter. There’s a lot of talk about that because with the label situation it might actually become the album, so we’re just going to keep dropping a grip of songs that we have stored up, waiting.