My Summer Rewind: An Ode to Self-Care 24-“Shake Dat Je’llo”

Life is too serious to be serious…this credo is indoctrinated into my moral code. If you spend enough time around a person, they will do something stupid. As my grandmother once said, “A life with no mistakes means you can’t learn from anything. And if you didn’t make mistakes, life wouldn’t be fun.” Those wise words from my most recent relative-turned-ancestor are true. Besides our basic body functions, lapses in judgement which contradict our core values is what every human has in common.

My silliness is my happy place. I believe God has a sense of humor and His most frequent channel of communication with me. I am intrigued my life’s idiosyncrasies. Therefore, the Elohim points them out, I chuckle, say “Thank you, God,” and share with others when I deem the time to be appropriate. In true God fashion, often said time is inappropriate, and the two of us laugh about it.

Because of the paragraph above, I use discernment to determine whom, how, when, what, and/or why I let into to joyful space. I safeguard it because everyone’s intentions differ. Some would call it protection of my energy or something with a cosmic, existential ring to it; I say it is a privilege for you to see this side of me.

My sense of humor is my default mechanism to cope. In a downtrodden state, I can always a reason to laugh or appreciate a joke thrown my way. It turns towered mountains into manageable molehills. My closest friends can attest I talk a lot of shit for the sake of talking shit and I don’t have many conversations without a quip of wit in them. I cannot give everyone everything because I need this to get by.

I love to make fun of people and my deadpan humor is designed with intention for the joke to go over the heads of most. It gives whoever understands a sense of intimacy; people feel special and appreciated when they feel they are in on an inside joke. Together, my small community and I get to laugh in concert because the ones who don’t get the joke are the punchline. I feel the reason I get away with this is because the person I poke fun at the most is myself.

I tell corny dad jokes to my daughter and nephew so they can cringe at me saying something stupid. They know it is an act, but it gives them comfort and confidence to know it is okay to be goofy. If I don’t make fun of you, we aren’t really friends. For me, the perfect date is to people watch and make fun of passersby. Do I feel bad about it? No. I assume others are doing the same to me.

We all need a break from life because it is difficult and depresses us all. It is the reason I love “Shake Dat Je’llo” by Joell Ortiz. He has made a career as a top-tier lyricist with abrasive punchlines, bombastic bombardment of witty couplet barrages, and a first-person viewpoint of life on the streets. Out of nowhere, he took a two minute and forty-nine second break from “When I converse, it’s an All-Star Converse/Tailered to make niggas chuck deuces and long hearse/Sorry won’t fly/Can’t spell apologize without looking an appalled OG before your eyes/” and made an ode to ass.

I know, you might inquire “What is so different for a rapper to depart from their norm of tough tales about the streets to celebrate culo?” In most circumstances, this would be cliché. However, “Shake Dat Je’llo” is different. Super producer Salaam Remi appropriates The Jackson 5’s “ABC” and the flute solo from “Hijack” by Enoch Light (well-recognized in the Beatnuts’ 1999 hit, “Watch Out Now”), a brass band breakdown, and a breakbeat into an up-tempo b-boy anthem. Over the party-starter-which sounds more 1989 than 2019-Yaowa switches up his style and lets the beat do most of the work. In a faux-Latin-X accent, Ortiz sounds like what I imagine Tony Montana would have, had he not been killed in 1983’s Scarface and lived long enough to sit along the Miami strip today. The word Jello is said 30 times because the whole purpose of the song is lighthearted fun. It is fun to rap along and enjoy all of its well-executed, intentional absurdity.

I love how Slaam Remi and Joel Ortiz to release “Shake Dat Je’llo” as a promotional single. Every recording artist I have ever known has made silly songs which will never see the light of day. For many, the studio is home, a sacred and safe place to be yourself in whatever way deemed necessary. I have created so many of these tracks with my friends, I could put out an album of them if I wanted to. I have seen and heard stories of singers you would never imagine completely disrupt a perfect take of a serious song, to shout “There’s so many fine bitches in here tonight!” with the sole intent to make everyone in the room erupt into laughter.

The muse behind most of my great ideas come from another mantra of mine: I am highly entertained by my thoughts. Most of my greatest ideas come from this silly place or something I said in jest. Years ago, in a car with my mother, I said “Cydney talks a lot. I should give her a podcast where I just let her talk for five minutes;” this was how Cydney Being Cydney, Podcast 20-13 was birthed.

In an Instagram caption, I made fun of myself not because as a kid, I didn’t like my smile. On a throwback Thursday, I said “As a kid, I always posed like I was on an r&b album cover. From this post, I have churned out over 50 album covers and tracklists as a child prodigy who made raunchy songs for the fictional record label, Hoetown Records, with my producer, Maybeface.

I probably need to put a pin in this because I could write a whole essay about several of these silly ideas (look up #Magoohive on Instagram). I’ll close this and say to all of the creators, readers, writers, and everyone: be silly because we’re all stupid. Create your “Shake Dat Je’llo” and share it.

Epilogue:

This was not the original version of this essay. I wrote almost 600 words and before I could save it, my computer restarted, and it was lost forever. After a three-hour attempt to retrieve it, I realized there was a reason I needed to start over. This took on a completely different life than its predecessor and way better (that rhymed…I still got it!).

Also, I’m surprised Joell Ortiz didn’t switch the letters around and call himself “Je’llo Ortiz” in the song.

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