Mudcat Café message #2090519 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #102055   Message #2090519
Posted By: Azizi
29-Jun-07 - 08:21 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives
Subject: RE: Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives
Natasha, sorry for jumping into this discussion without first apologizing.

I'm sorry that I'm just responding to your May 30, 2007 post. And I'm sorry no one else did. But I'm here now. Hopefully, other people will join in this thread. Natasha, I hope you will check out this thread and give me and other folks a holla back.

Btw, Natasha I find it interesting that you use the term "handjives" for handclaps.

I'm from the Eastern part of the USA {New Jersey} and have lived in the near-Midwest {Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania} for longer than I lived in the East. And I have never heard these rhymes or their performance activity called handjives by any Black people. However I have heard of the song Willie And The Hand Jive . So I guess there was a time when some folks called them or the routines done to the chants "hand jive".

The African American children I interact with in Pittsburgh call them "songs". Or they say that they are doing "handclaps". I've never heard them say they are "playing handclaps". Being much older than these children, I call them rhymes, though I also called them "songs" when I was growing up.


Natasha, with regard to the second example that you posted, this used to be the bomb in Pittsburgh {meaning it was way hot! meaning it was real popular. This was waay back in the day-in 1998 or thereabouts -when you could hear R. Kelly singing his hit song I Believe I Can Fly on just about any urban R&B/Hip Hop radio station at any time.

The 2nd example that you posted Natasha is a parody of that record. Here's a very similar one that I collected in 1999 from school age African American boys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

I believe I can fly.

I got chased by the FBI. (or "I'm being chased by the FBI").

It's all because of those collards greens

that I ate with those chicken wings.

I believe I can fly.

See me running through that open door.

I believe I can fly.

I believe I can fly.


Your guess is as good as mine where this version came from.
I wouldn't be surprised if it was part of a comedy routine that was shown on one of those BET comedy shows {"BET"="Black Entertainment Television"}. But that's just a guess.

I really don't have a clue how this song became sooo popular and how it spread-well-wherever it spread.

I should mention that in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the children's version of "I Believe I Can Fly" was a song. Nobody ever did handclap routines or steppin or any other kind of movement to it. Boys as well as girls sung this song with lots of enthusiasm. I said "sung" instead of "sing" because I've found that few if any Black school age kids know this song now...

Natasha, I'd love to know if you remember this song from now-or from "then". And I'd love to know when "then" was for you... Also, what is your race? I ask that question because I'm curious if this song is or was known by people who aren't African Americans.

Some people don't like to bring up race. But in the context of documenting what rhymes are {and were} known and how they are {and were} performed, it is alright {and I think it's important} to ask questions about race so that information about these rhymes can be documented as fully as possible.

In any event, best wishes, Natasha and thanks for posting your examples.