Words by Jesse Serwer
Ralph McDaniels’ Video Music Box gets its due credit (especially from me) for being the first hip-hop video show but it was also the only place in New York (and, as such, probably anywhere in the U.S.) where you could see proper dancehall videos on a regular basis before the mid ’90s. Back then, dancehall was still a foreign concept to this yankee—when I tuned into VMB, I wanted to see some rappity rap and maybe the shaking rumps in a New Jack Swing video. Gradually, however, witnessing Chaka Demus & Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote” and Mikey Jarrett’s “Mack Daddy” on Video Music Box put me on to a world my classmates knew nothing of. One video I can recall really catching my attention on VMB was “Tatie” by Snagga Puss. I was greatly impressed back then by zany, cartoon character-like rappers like Fu-Schnickens, Busta Rhymes, Sticky Fingaz, Redman, etc.— and Snagga Puss was basically a cartoon character come to life. Literally. He sounded exactly like the Hanna Barbara character Snagglepuss, employing the pink cat’s vocal mannerisms as his trademark.
Snagga was actually an already established deejay called Dickie Rankin who was trying to re-invent himself at the time. Though his animated schtick quickly grew old, and he’d go on to reinvent himself several times over, Snagga/Dickie was, for a brief moment, one of the hottest dancehall acts out. Only recently, though, after re-discovering the “Tatie” video on Youtube, did I realize how much it set the tempo for the last two decades worth of dancehall visuals. Preceding even Beenie Man’s “World Dance,” which first showed Gerald “Bogle” Levy and his movements to the world, “Tatie” was one of the first dance step-themed dancehall videos, and among the first to really capture the Jamaican street dancing scene, what with kids and all sorts of non-professional extras demonstrating the dance in the road.
If you don’t know the Tatie, it’s not too late to learn: Rihanna recently pulled it out of the vault in her “Rude Boy” video. Let Snagga tell it: “Bend your back like limbo poseeeee/When you ah dance, admire your bodyyyyyyy/Search yuhself like yuh ah feel fi moneyyyyyyy/Look pon your clothes, look if they dirtyyyyyyyyy/Tie your shoelace, and do the tatieeeeeeee.”