Nina Sky featuring Jabba — “Move Ya Body”

Released: 6.2.04

Peak: #4

Anticipatory hype is as old as John the Baptist, but when poptimist e-hacks anoint “California Gurls” the “summer jam of 2010” before the kids have even kicked their post-prom hangovers, a gun has been unmistakably jumped. The soundtrack to our summers shouldn’t be vetted from above (at least not so transparently). Nina Sky’s “Move Ya Body” may not have become the summer jam of 2004 through any more strictly democratic a process–radio saturation–but the process we got to all play along with felt more organically commercial, at least.

Eighteen-year-old Puerto Rican-born twins Nicole and Natalie Albino didn’t exactly drum up a hit song by just clapping hands together on their stoop one day. DJ and all-around bizzer Cipha Sounds (then at Star Trak) suggested an adaptation of Scatta Burrell’s Coolie Dance riddim for the sisters; production team the Jettsonz (Elijah Wells and Lionel Birmingham) fashioned the reggaeton derivative, which builds slowly, shifting from one section to the next rather than hewing to a strict verse-chorus structure.

Indelible as that variant of the riddim may be (I’m especially partial to the liquid keyboard lines echoing the chorus toward the end), the appeal of “Move Ya Body” rests chiefly in the interplay between the Albinos’ mild voices. A more muscular show of soul would have intruded on the summery feel; instead, they leavened dancehall’s manly thrust with an amateurish exuberance that recalls freestyle even before they quote Lisa Lisa’s “Can You Feel the Beat” for a full verse. And their homoerotic delight in watching other girls dance is subtler and friskier than you-know-who kissing a you-know-what you-know-where and liking it.

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