Inside Atlanta’s Booming Hip-Hop Dance Scene

Kids with the right moves are racking up huge YouTube views, but where's their future?

At a Chick-Fil-A in Lithonia, 25 minutes east of Atlanta, Benny “King Imprint” Muyumba is sipping a lemonade. It’s late afternoon and school is out. Nearby, kids dart between tables and study sessions.

They don’t seem to recognize the 18-year-old sitting at the booth, but it’s a fair bet that they would if they saw him move: Muyumba is a dancer and filmmaker with more than half a million YouTube subscribers and a cumulative 169 million views for the videos he’s uploaded there. Atlanta is a city with three major rap radio stations, but for kids who care, Muyumba’s channel is the way to stay up on the latest dance moves and hits. “King Imprint” is the now.

Muyumba and his brother started making videos using his laptop camera and posting them on YouTube when he was in the eighth grade. That trial-and-error phase can deter many young hobbyists, but Muyumba – who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has lived with his family in Atlanta suburbs since 2006 – kept at it, and soon he got a real camera of his own. “I was trying to record comedy videos as well as dance videos,” Muyumba says, bashfully. “It just did not go well at all.”

As Muyumba progressed, he began adapting to newer Atlanta dances and trends using with his DIY filming techniques, finding traction — a July 2014 video of him doing Bobby Shmurda’s “Shmoney Dance,” which drew over 50,000 views. His real breakthrough came later that summer, when he posted a video of him and his brother doing the “Whip Dance” to DJ Carnage’s “Bricks.” The Whip was brand-new, and Muyumba’s video became one of its top search results, eventually garnering 17 million YouTube views. Clearly, Muyumba had tapped into something.

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