Dear Culture

Tru’ish Black Stories: The You Got Served betrayal

Episode 37

The Tru’ish Black Stories series concludes with the serve heard ’round the world as Dear Culture looks back on the dance battle classic of the early 2000’s ‘You Got Served.’ These dance battles were about more than just bragging rights. 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – OCTOBER 22: Omarion attends The 8th Annual Streamy Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Streamy Awards)


Panama Jackson [00:00:06] There are some losses in the Black community that it’s really
hard to come back from. There’s the time when one shoe Reggie, lost that footrace to
White Boy Joe. Set the whole community back eons, decades, even. Because, see, we
we’re the fastest. Then there was the time when Matt McClung won the slam dunk contest
during Black History Month at NBA All-Star Weekend. He did that. Wow, what a way to go
out. But there’s no loss that stings more. That’s more pressing and more pressing and sits
deeper in the hearts of Black America than the loss that happened on what I’m guessing is
the one day that it actually rained in Southern California.

You Got Served [00:00:56] This ain’t fair. Ya’ll cheated. Ya’ll stole our moves. You just
mad. Because tonight you suckers got served.

Panama Jackson [00:01:03] This is Dear Culture and these are significant moments in
Black history.

Unidentified [00:01:13] Quiet on set.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:01:18] As someone who actually studied dance myself, I was a
student of Harlem School of the Arts. I did the youth programs at Dance Theater of
Harlem. I was very invested in the early years of the Southern California dance scene.
This was the rise of early Krumping. This was the rise of a lot of the Beat Your Feet
movement that came out of Chicago. So what we all saw, what was happening in
Southern California, it was something that was of peak interest to someone like myself.
Right. You know, New York had its own thing going on with our own dance movement. We
were all doing our own Harlem Shake, Light Feet movement. And so when this was
happening, when, you know, MTV was going out and giving out money for dance
competitions annually, we were all tuned into it. Right. So personally, I was very invested
in what was going on in the dance scene. My name is Shamira Ibrahim and I am a cultural
critic and commenter.

Panama Jackson [00:02:15] My name is le’Jerrius Johnson, former dancer, went by the
name Get’em. Because that’s what I would do. I would get them, get’em.

Method Man [00:02:24] Get’em.

Panama Jackson [00:02:24] Streets, school, church, you name it. I did it. I would go

Method Man [00:02:29] Get’em.

Panama Jackson [00:02:30] Currently unemployed. So I followed the Southern California
warehouse dance scene because I was a part of it, but I didn’t have to follow them more or
less followed me, if you know what I’m saying. But I did keep up with everybody else that
was on the scene. You know, Elgin, Wade, you know, the whole crew was like, those are
my guys. Those are the people I paid attention to. I was briefly in Elgin and David’s crew,
but we had a mishap. I got put out, so I had to start my own crew. Not nearly as popular.

You Got Served [00:03:03] The sheezie. When ya’ll not going to let me get down with the
crew? Never, punk. You can’t even move.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:03:07] I didn’t know about the rise of David and Elgin until it got
really big and it became the scandal that it was because it got pretty dangerous.

You Got Served [00:03:16] I ain’t scared. Is you scared? Hell, no. What the hell is
stopping us from taking their money to night then?

Shamira Ibrahim [00:03:20] But it wasn’t until they were really huge and massive and all
the fallout happened that I really knew about them as individuals. But what we really did
know was that there were a lot of really big and intense crews that were really doing a lot
of innovative things out in the local Los Angeles area. And that was just really exciting to
know about, right? So it wasn’t like it was YouTube everywhere like it is now where people
were just pulling out cameras and you could see them continuously. We all had like little
flip phones.

You Got Served [00:03:45] What’s this? This is an official challenge. Not a big answer
right there. This is the real $5,000 challenge.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:03:52] It’s not like today where everyone could pull out on Snapchat
or pull it all on TikTok. But, you know, people were consciously trying to find ways to figure
out what people were doing locally.

You Got Served [00:04:01] Eight messages? Dang. Somebody blowing me up.

Panama Jackson [00:04:03] I was originally one of the members of David and Elgin’s
crew, but because of a slight tiff that we had about money but mostly dance steps.

You Got Served [00:04:14] Just so you know, we ain’t boys, we ain’t nothing and that’s on
my momma.

Panama Jackson [00:04:21] And I thought the dance steps that I was bringing to the table
would bring us money. And they didn’t seem to think that they were that cool. And I can
admit I probably didn’t have the most important dance step routines for what we were
trying to accomplish. Mine was more the kind of thing that was going to bring the world
together. See, that’s what I am. What? I’m the kind of person that brings the world together
with dance. When people have that talent, you want to be around that talent. And I wanted
to be around that talent because I am a dancer. And I you know, I use my body to tell
stories and I use my body to tell poems and write poems. My body writes all manner of
stories. It’s prose, it’s fiction, nonfiction. My body is a library.

Panama Jackson [00:05:09] Where were you when you heard the story about them
suckers getting served by Wade’s dance crew?

Shamira Ibrahim [00:05:15] No, it’s crazy that you mention this. So as a New Yorker,
right. You have several moments, right? Everyone knows where they were on 9/11.
Couple of years later, right. It’s 2003. Everyone hears about this crazy moment in a boxing
ring because that’s where dancers duke it out. Right. In boxing rings.

You Got Served [00:05:36] Look, I’m call him at his house. We can’t afford to lose. We
never lose. Why start now? Wassup, man? Elgin, I forgot to tell you that we got a surprise
guest for you. Let’s do this again sometime. We’d love to take your money again.

Panama Jackson [00:06:05] When David and Elgin got served. I was there. I was in the
audience. You know what I mean? Like, I was there when them suckers got served. It was.
It was. It was Fugazi. They got. They got cheated. You know what I’m saying? Sonny
switched sides. You know, he flip sides and he gave Wade and them all the moves.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:06:25] Everyone gets together, they squab it out. They do a dance
bars. Bar for bar. Eight count for eight count. Right. That’s what the streets are telling each
other. Right. Because, you know, that’s how we do it. By telephone, right? Everyone just
tells each other. Julliard is hearing about it. Right. Dance Theater of Harlem is hearing
about it, right. Alias is hearing about it.

Panama Jackson [00:06:45] So it was an emotional time because we saw it happen in
real time. It’s like, you know, the world slow down. Like, all these dance moves are
dancing. You know, people you remember where you were when significant events
happened, Like, I know where I was when Ricky got shot.

[00:06:59] Ricky!

Panama Jackson [00:06:59] You know what I’m saying? I know where I was when Randy
Watson sang The Greatest Love of All. You know, I know where I was when Akeelah won
the Spelling Bee.

[00:07:13] Pulchritude. Congratulations, Akeelah.

Panama Jackson [00:07:16] And I know specifically, I know where I was standing. I know
what I had on. You know what I mean? When I knew what I was wearing. When David and
Elgin got served. You know what I mean? And it’s still it still burns in my heart today

You Got Served [00:07:31] They taking all our moves.

Panama Jackson [00:07:33] It just wasn’t supposed to be, you know, it wasn’t supposed
to be there. In the end, it was that. And when something is what it was, that’s what it is.

You Got Served [00:07:44] Got your ass whipped tonight. But I didn’t see y’all put a
million ass right in this same place.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:07:50] So you got to realize this is a really tense time for the Black
community. Black on Black crime was allegedly at an all time high, right? No snitching was
still principle. All time G-code. And here we are watching brothers in the dance community
declare war on each other over a couple racks.

You Got Served [00:08:14] What happened? Man you left me out there hanging tonight.
That’s what happened.

Panama Jackson [00:08:17] And I got to be honest with you, man, I. I didn’t think there
was no coming back from that. Like, I just. The community was despondent, run amuck.
They didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. It was like Plymouth Rock landed on the community.

We were all split on this one. Everybody was fighting, you know, infighting. We people
were upset that, you know, people wanted to ride on Wade, but other people were like, Yo,
David and Elgin should have known better. You know what I’m saying? Like, them suckers
got served and they should have known better.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:08:42] We don’t really think about what a small ripple could start. But
when you look upon what one small moment of violence, what one small can start.

You Got Served [00:08:52] Disrespecting me by putting your hands. Go home. What the
hell is wrong with you man?

Shamira Ibrahim [00:08:56] Those two longtime friends who consider each other’s
brothers turned on each other, a small trophy. Right. And yes, they thought it was life
changing money at the time.

You Got Served [00:09:06] We got to tell a crew, we’re telling them that after the battle.
We’ve got to get this paper, dog.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:09:12] But it really led to the Black community just really seeing a
standard of turning on each other in entertainment. Really a tragedy.

Panama Jackson [00:09:19] And then David don’t show up for Elgin. And then next thing
you know, they they beefing and crews are splitting. You know, it was just like it was the
end It felt like the end of an era, you know, And I think everybody in the community was
just sad. We’re like, we don’t where do we go from here? Do we Do we continue? Do we
find a new hobby? You know, do we just stop dancing in, I don’t know, start skating or
doing slam poetry? You know, I didn’t think they were going to come back together. I
thought I thought they was done. If you’ve got to be honest. Look, the Black dudes lost to
the white dude. The racial elements here, you know, I’m going to say it set us back 6 to 7

You Got Served [00:09:59] Ya’ll mad at the wrong people. Ya’ll need to be throwing that
hate towards Wade and them. All I’m saying is I need to find love again. Because this
here, it ain’t right.

Panama Jackson [00:10:09] You know, when suckers get served, you don’t really usually
come back from that, which makes the story all the more triumphant because they did.
Like, I didn’t think they were going to come back from that, but they figured it out. They did
come back from that. And I mean, we’re all better off for it if you being if you real about it.
Like we are all better today because of what happened in the aftermath. Though, the time,
part of the thing that brought them back together was the death of a Lil Saint. So, you
know, not that I wanted the little homie to pass on, but he sewed up a community.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:10:46] A tragic story of a young, neglected Black youth who really
just didn’t have that much structure in his life. Looked at some young Black men who really
needed their own mentors. Right. But they were all caught up in a really ill fated dream of
chasing what they thought was Black capitalism, what they thought was their own version
of success. And in the middle of all of that chaos. Right. What happens? He gets caught
up in the mix. He gets caught up in trying to live up to whatever version of the ideal that
he’s they set up for him. Right. And so it’s a very it’s a very deep tragedy that such a young
Black man who was probably on his way to a great charter school in the Los Angeles area.

Right. But instead, we have to deal with the fact that those $3,000 were all that they were
chasing for and he was left in the background.

Panama Jackson [00:11:50] But, you know, through tragedy comes triumph, at least
when it comes to dancers in boxing rings in Los Angeles, like that’s how we get down, you
know, and in, you know, shout out to the Lil Saint, as always, you know, R.I.P. to the little
homie you know.

You Got Served [00:12:06] About the sheezie. When ya’ll gonna let me get down with the
crew? Never punk you can’t even move.

Panama Jackson [00:12:11] And you know his contributions to not only the dance history,
but Black history and world history really just cannot be you know, they cannot be

Shamira Ibrahim [00:12:22] You can never really make up for such a deep tragedy. Right.
So when you have deep losses that are mortal right and fatal, it’s really kind of difficult to
really reclaim that. And so when David and Elgin actually lost somebody that was so
critical to them, that was very, very irreplaceable for them to actually try to get get back.
But when they chose to try to come together in those final moments, especially on such a
major national stage.

You Got Served [00:12:53] Aiight, let’s do this. Nah, we got it. Come on, man, this bury
this and let me help you out. Look, it’s either David and all of us or none of us.

Shamira Ibrahim [00:13:07] It was a chance for them to honor the Lil Saint, not
necessarily to potentially win something, but really showcase why Lil Saint had even
admired them for so long. As a community, to this day, what people want to actually step
up to the stage, we consistently say we got to do it for Lil Saint to honor him in his memory
because that is how we stand together as a Black community in the dance world.

You Got Served [00:13:31] Lil Saint, this will for you, baby.

Panama Jackson [00:13:34] I’m proud to have been associated with David and Jean, and
I appreciate everything that they’ve brought to the dance table. They were the dance table,
you know, without without them, there is no table to dance on. So I appreciate them for
giving me a table to dance. I was never a stripper, but just like regular dancing on tables,
like, let’s say, you know, you go to a nice restaurant and the food is really good and you
just feel the need to dance and move like that’s, you know, So that’s that’s what that’s I
appreciate them for giving me a table to dance on, which consequently is where you get

Panama Jackson [00:14:15] If you could say one thing to David and Elgin about the mark
that they’ve left in the Black community and in the dance world, just one thing that you
would like to share with them. What would that be?

Shamira Ibrahim [00:14:26] I’ll tell them that they gave Joe Budden their biggest hit. And
Joe Budden has to be thankful to Dave and Elgin for the rest of their lives.

You Got Served [00:14:51] Ya’ll just mad. Because today you suckers got served. Served.
Served. Served. Served. Served.

Panama Jackson [00:15:08] Coming this February, theGrio Black Podcast Network
presents Dear Culture: Tru’ish Black Stories.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:17] When you think of sheer artistry, sheer creativity, the ability
for someone to bring Black people together in the most fundamental ways, it’s, you know, I
would say of my four, Randy Watson is my number one.

Michael Harriot [00:15:31] When the news about Rickey first broke, what I heard about it
is the thing you hear about, you know, every time somebody Black dies, that it was gang
related. That means the police don’t know what happened. So they just said probably the
gangs, probably, you know, the other Black dudes.

Damon Young [00:15:49] When I think of Akeelah, you know, I think about I think about
how impressionable white people can be. I think about how, you know, if you watch that
movie again, you know, he should have lost like three times.

Panama Jackson [00:16:00] Where were you when you heard the story about them
suckers getting served by Wade’s dance crew?

Shamira Ibrahim [00:16:07] You know, it’s crazy that you mention this. So as a New
Yorker, right, Everyone knows where they were. Oh 911 Right. You know, couple of years
later, right. It’s 2003. Everyone hears about this crazy moment in a boxing ring because
that’s where dancers duke it out. Right In boxing rings.

Panama Jackson [00:16:24] If you could say something to Ricky right now, what would
you say to him?

Monique Judge [00:16:28] Ricky, You should’ve never got that girl pregnant. You knew I
had a crush on you. You should have gone with me.

Panama Jackson [00:16:32] Instead of moments in Black culture examined like never
before. Join us each week as we dive into the Black moments that changed us. That
changed the world. Make sure to subscribe to Dear Culture so you never miss an episode.

Maiysha Kai [00:17:06] We started this podcast to talk about not just what Black writers
write about, but how.

Ayana Gray [00:17:11] Well, personally, it’s on my bucket list to have one of my books
banned. I know that’s probably bad, but I think,.

Maiysha Kai [00:17:17] Ooh, spicy.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault [00:17:18] They were yelling N-word, Go home. And I was
looking around for the N-word because I knew it couldn’t be me because I was the queen.

Keith Boykin [00:17:25] Telling people to quit this mentality of identifying ourselves by our
work, to start to live our lives and to redefine the whole concept of how we work and where
we work and why we work in the first place.

Misty Copeland [00:17:41] My biggest strength throughout, throughout my career has
been having incredible mentors and specifically Black women.

Omar Epps [00:17:47] I’ve been writing poetry since I was like eight. I’ve been reading
Langston Hughes and James Baldwin and Maya Angelou and so forth and so on, since I
was like a little kid.

Rhiannon Giddens [00:17:56] Like the banjo was Blackity Black, right? For many, many,
many years everybody knew.

Sam Jay [00:18:03] Because sometimes I’m just doing some Sam that because I just want
to do it.

J. Ivy [00:18:09] Honored to be here. Thank you for doing the work that you do. Keep
shinning bright. And like you said, we going to keep Writing Black.
Maiysha Kai [00:18:16] As always, you can find us on theGrio app or wherever you find
your podcasts.