GEN F: D-Lo and Sleepy D

Photographer Justin Maxon
September 10, 2011

One hot spring day in East Oakland, a crew of folks from around the way engage in a street battle. They’re all rambunctious, whipping water balloons at each other and laughing, but two shirtless dreadlocked brothers stand on the side giving advice to a neighborhood entrepreneur on how to deal with a wayward sales representative. The brothers, known locally as D-Lo and Sleepy D, have created a cottage industry by maintaining their focus while everyone else plays around. As a result, they are now the leading voices soundtracking Coastal California’s newest tweaked out dance craze known as jerkin’.

Two years ago, from the studio in their mother’s basement, the duo devised a prototypical jerkin’ anthem. Over a thumping bass drum, a handclap and a minimal three-note melody, D-Lo channeled his inner Too Short and barked ludicrously lascivious lyrics through the gruffest throat since Keak Da Sneak. The resulting song, “No Hoe,” got everyone in Oakland, from the streets to the high schools gyms, chanting, “He don’t give a fuck about no hoe,” mimicking D-Lo’s uninhibited growl. “Everybody know it—they cousin, or auntie or nieces or somebody,” says D-Lo. “Even if they don’t like it, they know it!” Two weeks after making “No Hoe,” D-Lo went to jail for 18 months on attempted robbery charges. In the meantime, Sleepy set about pushing CD-Rs of the track around the city. “I was hella mad… I wanted to get on that thing,” says Sleepy.

Over the past year, the duo’s independently released singles have been frequently ripped off MySpace and passed around the Bay by DJs and groups of friends. Just three months after “No Hoe” split the streets, Sleepy hit big with another self-celebrating anthem, “Sleepy Fuckin’ D,” its emphatic chorus simply repeating the song’s title over and over behind a super minimal shaker and bass clip. A grip of YouTubes of Bay kids jerkin’—a wild, twerky dance that looks a little like Riverdance meets a backwards Kid ‘n’ Play kickstep—use “Sleepy Fuckin’ D” as their soundtrack. L.A.’s jerkin’ set meanwhile splatters the internet with hyper-color skinny jeaned dance routines scored by groups like The New Boyz producing their own version of the Bay sound, with tracks like “You’re a Jerk.” Sleepy’s not mad at what some might see as a bite. “Turfin’ and jerkin’, we tryin’ to build a little Bay to L.A. movement,” he says, “where we mix the shit, collab on whatever, feel me? Push a movement. But it’s not gonna stop in So Cal.” East Oakland rises again!

Stream: D-Lo, The Tonite Show with D-Lo

GEN F: D-Lo and Sleepy D