Video maybe didn’t kill the rap star, but like MTV before it, YouTube destabilized and invigorated the contemporary popscape. The Chicken Noodle Soup, the Superman, the Aunt Jackie, the Lip Gloss–beginning in 2006, instructions abounded on how to jerk your body to a new breed of teenybopper crunk, as the new video site allowed kids to share their interpretation of the steps with the world. If only someone had thought to pass along an updated “Land of 1,000 Dances,” or at least a new-fangled “Nobody But Me,” that’d’ve been a hell of a ringtone.
“Walk It Out” was among the earliest of these new crazes, and qua song near the head of the pack. Lyrically, calling for the west, south, east and north sides to walk in out in rapid succession is hardly in the class of “Chicken noodle soup/ With a sodar on the side,” but clearly a notch above “Let it rain, now clear it out.” And if Unk is no great shakes on the mic, he did construct the track, distinguished by a tinny synth riff resembling a sped-up slasher flick theme.
On the official remix, Andre 3000 steals the track from Unk (“Your white tee, well to me, look like a night gown/ Make your mama proud, take that thang 2 sizes down”) and Jim Jones hands it right back. But rhymes aside, the remix is longer, and therefore preferable, because there’s more time for it to be walked out. And that was just the first ripple “Walk It Out” would create in out cultural pool. Girl Talk made good use of the track, Lil Wayne owned it on Da Drought 3, and everyone from SpongeBob to the Teletubbies was made to walk it out on YouTube. “Walk It Out” grew from a song to the sort of participatory group endeavor that terrifies copyright misers.