Sunday, February 4, 2018

Baltimore Club Song - "Hey You Knuckleheads" And Pittsburgh Camp Song "All You Knuckleheads"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents information about Baltimore Club music and showcases a sound file and a video of the 1996 Baltimore (Maryland) Club song "Hey You Knuckleheads". The lyrics for that song (rap?/chant?) are also included in this post.

This post also provides a text example of and comments about the late 1990s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania children's camp song "All You Knuckleheads".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Big Ria for recording this Baltimore Club song and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these YouTube examples. Thanks also to the composer/s of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania camp song version of this song.

From This Film Is The Love Letter That Baltimore Club Music Deserves (Extended)

Originally edited and published by The Fader.
..."With a staggering shortage of venues and little air time, Baltimore club as a scene has been fading fast in recent years.

The music, however, lives on—in part because, like rap, Baltimore club has a therapeutic appeal. Some of its most iconic songs speak to the pain that often comes hand-in-hand with inner city life and, at times, how to mend those wounds: Rod Lee’s “Dance My Pain Away” (2005), Miss Tony’s “Living In The Alley” (2001), and Big Ria’s “Hey You Knuckleheads” (1996) for example. That universal language of healing is also what helped Baltimore club take root outside its borders. In the early ‘90s, New Jersey producer DJ Tamiel was inspired to create the slightly faster Jersey club, and then in the early ‘00s, Philadelphia producers DJ Dwizz and DJ Sega pinballed off it to develop the manic-paced Philly club.


Now a new documentary from an unexpected perspective is re-evaluating Bmore club’s importance. Baltimore Where You At?, above, is the work of French director Tim Moreau, who was inspired to dig into Bmore club’s vaults after getting hooked on Diplo’s take on it in the late 2000s. Moreau’s background is with an activist film collective called Regarde à Vue—his work often circles politics and socio-economic struggles—so his fascination wasn’t just with the music, but also in the social climate of the city that bred it. Which is why, in between 2011 and 2012, he took three solo trips to Baltimore to make that happen. Here, he discusses which artists he chose to profile, the obstacles of shooting in unfamiliar neighborhoods and Baltimore club’s lasting influence on he and his work.


Tim Moreau - "The rhythm is the message, and the rhythm is so crazy and raw that I tried to underline the link I’m talking about. Of course, those are unconscious links but my aim was to make them visible. And of course, I wanted people to love Baltimore club and to know the real story. I wanted to tell the people that Bmore club music is not (only) Diplo and Hollertronix. That Baltimore club was here before all of that and it has a long story just as important as hip hop, house and blues for me. That it is a major musical movement that is very influential to the mainstream music of today."...

SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: Baltimore Club Music- Knuckleheadz (Rep Ya Hood) [1996]

magillazmygorilla, Published on Aug 5, 2008

Big Ria. Another throwback joint. Is ya hood in this one?

VIDEO: Big Ria: Hey You Knuckleheads (Live) 2014

DJ Diamond K, Published on Aug 13, 2014

Big Ria performs "Hey You Knuckleheads" at Diamond K's birthday party in Baltimore.

(Big Ria)

Hey You Knuckle Heads
Hey You Knuckle Heads
Walking Down the Avenue
A few more streets and we'll be through
Sandtown, North and P
Park Heights, R and G
Whitelock, CherryHill
North and Long and Dofield
Murphy Homes, EA
Greenmount, Barclay
Walbrook JCT
Popular Grove, and EV
Flaghouse, LT
28th, Tivoly
Alameda, Mount Street
Edmonson and Pulaski
Saratoga, Garrison
NOrth and Dukeland
Westport, Cedonia
Parkside, Moravia
Sinclair, Wolfstreet
Middle, Chase and Biddle Street
York Rd, Preston Street
24th, Bernice street
21st, 20th
Bethel and LaFayette
North Bend, Catonsville
Warwick and Rosedale

Hey You Knuckle Heads
Hey You Knuckle Heads
Walking Down the Avenue
A few more streets and we'll be through

Yeah this BigRia
Representing from ParkHeights
Ya I mean
I wanna know where all my ladies at
Let me hear ya make some noise
And if ya representing
I want ya to say
Straight like that

Are my ladies representing
Straight like that
Are my fellas representing
Straight like that

Yeah I like to give big thanks
To big house productions
In the 96 and I'm out

Online source:

Note: This is a call and response song. The group responds by repeating the same line that the caller sings.

All you knuckleheads
You dumb, dumb knuckleheads
Marching down the avenue.
Five more miles and we'll be through.
Go left, go left.
Go left, right, left.
Go left, go right go pick up the sticks.
Go left go right go left.

The words are repeated counting down to "no more miles"

All you knuckleheads
You dumb, dumb knuckleheads
Walking down the avenue.
No more miles and we are through.
Go left, go left.
Go left, right, left.
Go left, go right, go pick up the sticks.
Go left go right go left.
-Lillian Taylor camp (1996 or 1997), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; collected by Tazi Powell (camp counselor).
Lillian Taylor camp was a summer camp that was sponsored by Kingsley Association for boys and girls from various (mostly Black) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania neighborhoods.

"All you knuckleheads" was also sung as "Hey you knuckleheads".

I adapted this song for the Alafia Children's Ensemble after-school game song groups that I founded and led along with my daughter Tazi Powell (now Tazi Hughes). I kept the tune and most of the words to that song, but changed the title to "Hey Alafia" (pronounced ah-LAH-fe-ah.). But instead of singing those first two lines we sang
"Hey Alafia .
Let's sing Alafia".

The song was performed in a single file, follow the leader, zig zag marching, with the leader and then the group moving to the left and then to the right on those words. We performed American sign language for the word "sing" and dipped down to imitate the line "pick up the sticks".

Unfortunately, I don't have any audio or video of any Alafia Children's Ensemble songs.

My guess is that the line "go left, go right, go pick up the sticks" came from a version of the military cadence "Jody Boy", as chanted with the same tune in this YouTube sound file :
"Your left, your left
Your left , righta left
Your military left
Your left, your right
now pick up the step
Your left your right your le--eh -eft"
I don't know when that military cadence was first performed, but my guess is that it is older than the abpve mentioned Lillian Taylor camp song. And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the "walking down the avenue" line from the Baltimore Club song "Hey You Knuckle Heads" also had its source in a military cadence where it was given as "marching down the avenue".

If you have any information about when this version of the military cadence "Jody Boy" was first chanted please share that information in the comment section below. Also, please share any other children's camp songs examples of adaptations of "Hey You Knuckle Heads". Thanks!

UPDATE June 4, 2018: An example of this version of the military cadence "Jody Boy" can be found in this February 2018 pancocojams post: Versions Of Three Military Cadences About "Jody":: "Ain’t No Sense In Goin Home", "Jody Boy", & "Jody's Got Your Cadillac"

UPDATE June 4, 2018:
I just realized that the line "go left go right go pick up sticks" in that camp song "All You Knuckleheads" is a folk processed version of this line which is found in a number of military cadences: " go left go right go pick up the step".

I think the phrase "go pick up the step" could mean "march faster", but I think it probably means "pick up your feet and march with more enthusiasm" ("March with more pep in your step").

The phrase "pick up sticks" is familiar to children in the United States (if not in other English speaking nations) because of the children's counting rhyme "One Two Buckle My Shoe":
"One, two,
Buckle my shoe;
Three, four,
Knock at the door;
Five, six,
Pick up sticks;
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight:
Nine, ten,
A big fat hen"...

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