Monday, July 18, 2016

The Possible Backstory For Virginia State University's Woo Woo's Cheer "Who Shakes The Best"

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Updated June 28, 2017]

Virginia State University's [VSU] Woo Woo cheerleading squad has long been one of a major force in stomp and shake cheerleading. "Who Shakes The Best" is one of the Woo Woo's signature cheers.

The earliest YouTube version of "Who Shakes The Best" that is performed by VSU's Woo Woos is from 2008.

VSU Woo Woo's 2008 "Who Shakes The Best"

BlaWaiian2008, Published on Mar 17, 2013

VSU Cheerleaders (Virginia State University)
Here's the words to that version of "Who Shakes The Best":
Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.

Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.

Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
Cause everybody knows that we shake the best.
My transcription from the video. Additions and corrections are welcome.

Notice that that video was published on YouTube in 2013 but the title indicates that its the 2008 Woo Woo squad.

Another video of VSU's Woo Woo performing "Who Shakes The Best" was published on YouTube in 2011:

VSU Woo Woo (Who shakes Da Best)

TrueVSU1882, Uploaded on Mar 31, 2011

This video was uploaded from an Android phone.
There are only two comments in that video's discussion thread. One of those comments was posted in 2011 from jboyfreshVUU who wrote "i LOVE this new version!" That comment refers to slight changes in both the lyrics and the performance routine.

My transcription of the lyrics for that version are:
Who shakes the best!
Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.

Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.

Ah hey!
'Cause we shake the best
Everybody knows that we shake the best
To the East.
To the West.
Shake it!
Additions and corrections are welcome.
A video of SASSY, a stomp and shake cheerleading squad from Prince Edward High School in Farmville, Virginia, is the earliest YouTube video of the "Who Shakes The Best" cheer. The cheer in that video is entitled "We Shake The Best":

SASSY (We Shake The Best)

FIERCED_2006 Uploaded on Feb 17, 2007

JV And Varsity SASSY cheerleaders cheer at the last game against bluestone

In the same [?] clip of this video with the same date, the publisher's name was given as "woowooworkit". That name reinforces comments that several people wrote in the discussion thread of that video that the SASSY cheerleading squad learned that cheer from Virginia State Woo Woos.

Here are a few comments from that video's discussion thread:
dniecee1, 2007
"they are sayin "shake it to the east, shake it to the west, it really doesn't matter who shakes the best,shake it to the east, shake it to the west, it really doesn't matter who shakes the best,shake it to the east, shake it to the west, cause everybody knows that we shake the best."

arielallday, 2007
..."its funny how people say people still cheers even tho the word is spelled STEAL.

and its even funnier how people can say u steal something when u have been TAUGHT it by the person who helped originated. a VSU alumni used to go to our her showing us stuff in called stealing? NOPE lol.

LIVE ON WOO WOO CAMP...haters make u fly!"

dniecee1, 2007
"they didn't steal the cheers they go to Woo Woo camp and learn the cheers. plus thr cheerleading coach is a woo woo. get ya facts straight"

The "We Shake The Best" cheer is also listed in this article about the cheerleaders from Brunswick High School (Lawrenceville, Virginia)
"Brunswick cheerleading has made its mark in the Southside District. In the late 80's-early 90's, entering into the 2000s the Brunswick Senior High School/Brunswick High School Bulldogs cheerleaders have been outstanding. Back then, Brunswick was the only team in the Southside District that had distinctive moves and vibrant shaking. Other squads relied on gymnastics and aerobics to seduce their crowds. I guess you can say Brunswick Cheerleading is one of a kind....

After the SS District all 17 girls reunited to cheer the Varsity Bball team to a Regional championship. In Feb-March 2007 they were voted the #1 cheerleaders in regional playoffs by Throughout regionals they did cheers like "Hey, Hey", "Work It", Scared" "B-U-double L D-O-G-S", "2007...Was Made For This", "We Shake The Best", "Packed With Power" and "Action". They also had magnificant 8-counts."...

Given that Brunswick High School is located in Virginia and given the description of its late 1980s-early 1990s cheerleading squad having "distinctive moves and vibrant shaking", it's logical to assume that Brunswick High School's cheerleaders learned those moves -and learned the "We Shake The Best" cheer- from Virginia State University's Woo Woo.

Does this mean that the cheer entitled "Who Shakes The Best" or [for high school squads?] "We Shake The Best" is from the late 1980s or early 1990s?

I'm not sure what year the Woo Woos first chanted "Who Shakes The Best". Nevertheless, it seems clear that the Woo Woos are the originators of the stomp and shake words and routine/s for the "Who Shakes The Best" cheer. That said, I wonder if "Who Shakes The Best"/"We Shake The Best" is an adaptation of a (to date) undocumented foot stomping cheer and/or is an adaptation of one or both of the Hip Hop records entitled "Who Shakes The Best".

Like many stomp and shake cheers, "Who Shakes The Best"/"We Shake The Best" is composed of lines that are chanted in unison and repeated times. In contrast, foot stomping cheers (my term for a specific genre of children's (usually girls) informal, recreational cheers), have a characteristic consecutive soloist/group voice textual structure.

The soloist portion of some of those cheers consist of four line bragging and/or dissing (insulting) rhyming verses. The last word in line 1 rhymes or near rhymes with the last word in line 2, and the last word in line 3 rhymes or near rhymes with the last word in line 4. The soloist portion of several of these foot stomping cheers begin with the phrase "My name is __" as they are a way of introducing the girls who are pretending to be cheerleaders to their (often pretend) audience. The fairly well known "Shabooya Roll Call" is an example of a bragging (or dissin) introductory foot stomping cheer. *Click for videos and information about the Shabooya Roll Call cheer and its rhythm pattern.

The two Hip Hop records with the title "Who Shakes The Best" have a similar textual structure.

Example #1:

The first "Who Shakes The Best" record that I came across is a YouTube sound file by Candyman

c&yman - who shakes the best - Ain't No Shame In My Game

LierChatty, Uploaded on Dec 9, 2008
Hiphop Downlaods c&yman - who shakes the best - Ain't No Shame In My Game
The name "c&yman" is given as "Candyman" in other YouTube videos. Candyman's Wikipedia page cites 1990 as the year that "Who Shakes The Best" was released.

Since I couldn't find the lyrics for this song online, I attempted a transcription. Here's that (almost complete) transcription. (Additions and corrections are welcome.)

Girls singing – Hey, you know it, who shakes the best.
From the East to the West
We shake the best

[repeat entire verse]

One girl- My name is Katie
And I’m so fine
You mess with me
And I’ll kick your behind.

Girls: Hey, Hey. Who shakes the best?
Hey, who shakes the best.
Hey, from the East to the West....

[Man’s voice heard midway through the first part of the soloist verse.]
No. They can’t even do it right. Hold up.
No, Johnny. Let me show them how it’s done.

[Candyman beat begins at .039 of that video]
Group - Hey, Hey, you know It. Who shakes the best.
Hey, Hey who shakes the best.
[1st soloist]My name is Candy and I taste so sweet.
You’ll get a cavity the first time we meet.
And back in high school I got A’s on my test.
My teacher, Mrs, Jones, said I shake the best.

[group excerpt for the soloist]- Hey, hey you know it.
[Soloist voice] - I shake the best.
Entire group - Hey, hey you know it.
Who shakes the best.

[second soloist]- My name is Tanker and I shake what I got.
[Men singing] -Yeah, you know it.
[second soloist]- I got to steppin makes you hot as a pot.
And when you meltin’ in the rest of your dress
Well you can ask, but I shake the best.


[3rd soloist] My name is Brent and I like to dance.
[Men singing] -Yeah, you know it.
[3rd soloist]- When I’m shakin my pants, you’ll find I’m your man.
[Men singing] -Yeah, you know it]
And if you don’t think that I’m all that fresh.
Just ask your mama, who shakes the best.


[4th soloist] My name is Libra and I’m part of the Candyman band.
[Men singing] Yeah you know it [throughout the verse]
[4th soloist] I knock the boots off from here to Japan.
[Men singing] -Yeah, you know it]
If you’re confused who you want in this crew.
We’ll all be comin to a town near you.


[5th soloist] My name is Johnny and I programmed this beat.
[Men singing]- Yeah you know it.
I got the face to make you jump off your seat.
[Men singing] -Yeah, you know it]
Jump on my knees while I jump on your bones.
Hey, I shake the best then I make you go home.


[6th soloist] My name is Charlie and you know ??
[Men singing]- Yeah you know it.
[6th soloist] We got the ? to make us ?? ___
[Men singing]- Yeah you know it.
They try to censor us every time we bust.
But still we go on stage and raise our name up [?]


[Men saying indeterminate words]
hey, Hey, Hey.

Example #2:
The second online source for a Hip Hop record with the title "Who Shakes The Best" is a lyric page for a record by Dj Simon and Mcg: The soloist portion of the DJ Simon and Mcg verses is longer than those in the Candyman record, so those raps don't as resemble foot stomping cheers as much as that other Hip Hop song. But its clear that the rappers in the Dj Simon/Mcg record (and the Candyman record) are "bragging up" themselves as being a hit with the ladies. In the context of both these Hip Hop records "shaking the best" means being the man who "makes love" the best.

Here's a portion of "Who Shakes The Best" by Dj Simon and Mcg:

My name is mcg and I like to shake what I got
Like to shake it right from here to by far
You know I'm the funkiest lyricist when I'm on the mike
I'm the superstar mc That shines out loud and bright
Thanks to my man dj simon
For watchin'over my back
He's the superstar dj with those crazy wacky scratch's
He's got that key right in the groove that will make you fresh
You know he'll move your feet And make u shake the best

Hey hey u know it
Who shakes the best
Hey hey u know it
Shake the best

Hey hey u know it
Who shake the best
Hey hey you know it
I said I shake the best...

[The rapper mentions seeing a girl at the club that was "Asia"]

She looked at me and said that I'm her cutie baby type
And I told her I am 30 and Have a crazy life
Plus I can tell you what the 80's were like c'mon
And I know what the ladies like
They need a man that's really
Nice and oh really polite
But I'm not really that type
Cause im the p e r p
I can shake it right
So come with me stay the night
Oh um wui luen lei
So she was shakin'shakin'
Oh like that
There are several online citations for djs named "Dj Simon", but no information about this record or the djs who recorded it. I'm not sure which DJ Simon this ist.

Notice the line in that record mentions the "1980s". If this record was released in the 1980s, that would make it the oldest of these two records.

I believe that it's likely that the Woo Woo cheer is probably an adaptation of one (or both) of these records or an adaptation of a pre-existing (and as yet undocumented) foot stomping cheer .Or the Woo Woo cheer is an adaptation of one or both of those Hip Hip “Who Shakes The Best” records. That same (undocumented) foot stomping cheer is the source for one or both of those records. ( I wrote one or both since the later record could have copied the earliest one.)

If anyone has any information about either of Hip Hop records and/or information about when the Virginia Woo Woos first chanted "Who Cheers The Best", please share that information in this post's comment section. Thanks!

Click for a pancocojams post that was first published in 2012. That post features videos of stomp and shake cheerleading cheers and provides additional comments about the history of that form of cheerleading.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to VSU's Woo Woos for creating this featured cheer and other stomp and shake cheers. And thanks to the other cheer squads that are featured in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube

1 comment:

  1. I also happened upon this 2015 video of what I call "mainstream cheerleading" [i.e. not stomp and shake cheerleading] that includes portion of the "Who Shakes The Best Cheer":

    The video's title is "Hey, Hey, Hey Cheer" and the video was published by Billings Skyview Cheer on Aug 24, 2015.

    This cheer video is an example of how stomp and shake cheers have been picked up by mainstream (read "majority White") cheerleading squads much more readily than stomp and shake performance routines.

    The cheer that is performed in that video is actually a combination of two stomp and shake cheers- "Who Shakes The Best" (or "We Shake The Best") and "We are the ___[sports team name].

    The comment feature is disabled for this video. That decision could have been made because some commenters criticised the way the cheer was done. And/or that decision to disable comments could have been made because some commenters weren't happy that the cheer used line from the "Who Shakes The Best" cheer without crediting the VSU Woo Woos.

    It would be great if contemporary mainstream cheerleading squads recognized the considerable number of cheers that they perform that are from African American stomp and shake cheerleading and African American foot stomping cheers. But my sense is that few mainstream cheerleading squads are aware of this fact. And that lack of awareness can be interpreted as another example of White Americans appropriating African American culture without crediting the creators of that cultural material.
    That said, it's probably impossible to prevent community cheerleading squads and school cheerleading squads from using lines or entire cheers from university cheerleaders. But while using the entire cheer, or lines from someone else's cheer without permission might be overlooked in community or high school cheer events or competitions, many people consider it a much more serious infraction to copy the performance routines of those university cheerleading squads- even if those routines are publicly available on YouTube.

    From what I've read in YouTube comments about "stealing cheers and cheer routines", it's always best to create your own cheer routine.