Wow, 2020 has been 2020-ing.
Well, maybe—just maybe—William “Smokey” Robinson Jr. may have offered a viable opponent. And similar to the dancing bear mascot, this recently viral craze is a resurgence of something originally created in the early 2000s.
Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary readers of The Root, I present to you: “Gang Banging” by Smokey Robinson, who was recently part of Very Smart Brothas’ 30 Days of Iconic Music Video Blackness series for Black Music Month (for his duet with Rick James, “Ebony Eyes”). On Thursday afternoon, I dropped the following link into our team’s Slack channel with the following complaint, “How come no one told me about this?!”
It was a sincere question, as I certainly felt like I was missing a foolish part of my life that has since been completed. Where had this been all of my life?! After cry-laughing and yelling with my co-workers, I reflected a bit and came to the conclusion that perhaps 2020 really was the right time. It was divine order.
Anyway, after the full-length music video was linked in our work Slack channel, we began to implode into giggle-fits and hilarious commentary. Let’s discuss!
- First off, this version of the video has a PSA intro and a PSA interlude, bringing the total duration of the video to almost 9 and a half minutes.
- “‘Gang Bangin’ was written…*pregnant pause*...to the gang bangers,” the highly successful songwriter mused, which caused me to roll around my bed after being consumed with laughter over such enlightenment.
- Get into Smokey’s Crip Couture. Cuhhhhhh!
- To Smokey (colored by his well-known vibrato), gang bangin’ consists of “smokin’ that smoke,” “drinkin’ that wine,” “staying out late,” “preaching that hate,” among other criminal activities that the D.A.R.E. Team warned us about while promoting their T-shirts.
- The “gang bangers” are definitely a few extras from the set of a “Very Special Episode” of a sitcom that aired as part of ABC’s TGIF lineup that began in the late ‘80s and flourished throughout the ‘90s.
- Is this pro or anti-gang bangin’? That is truly up to interpretation.
Because I mentioned divine order earlier, I did a bit of digging and realized this song was released under Smokey’s gospel album, Food for the Spirit, which peaked at #3 on the gospel music charts. It’s no coincidence that Smokey’s group was called The Miracles because it is a sheer miracle that I found this video at a time when I really needed the unique joy that came from watching it. Of course, I had to share it. You’re welcome and Amen.
In the foolish-natured spirit of Black Twitter, memes begin to surface quickly after clips of the video made the rounds. No one could stop talking about the song, nor get it out of their heads. I actually hope someone informs Smokey’s team and he makes a comment about it on social media. I’ll pray about it.
It was in my head before I went to sleep and the words, “gang bangiiiinnn” were the first two words in my head when I woke up this morning. In fact, it’s in your head now, isn’t it? You’re welcome—and Amen.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)