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— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Matt Paco

It's hip-hop, house and Miami bass if they had a child and added British breakbeats. It's the energy of hyphy and crunk. It's 130 beats per minute and feels like 130 miles per hour.

It's Baltimore club music, and it's definitely not for the lazy and sluggish — listeners have to dance like they own the floor.

See how to own the dance floor in B-More, find out what the "crazy leg" is all about, meet Def Jam hopeful Young Leek and more in these videos.


At the Middle River Fire Hall, teenagers partied like their lives depended on it, doing dances like "the slide," where everyone in the party slides to one side of the floor and then to the other. When the music stopped, the kids spilled into the streets to demonstrate some of the latest dances.

"Here is 'the crazy legs,' " one girl said as her friend demonstrated. She also instructed her friend to do "the sidekick" and "the SpongeBob."

"Baltimore club music came straight outta the clubs in Baltimore," said emerging B-More artist Young Leek, whose "Jiggle It" is huge regionally and has potential to become a national hit. "All the DJs back in the day used to spin it, and we just took it and patched it up into a hip-hop form then. It's almost like house music that you hear around the world from different places, but it's just more of a grimier version of it. It's just like a ghetto version of it."

Besides the 1991 club record "Doo Doo Brown" by 2 Hyped Brothers & a Dog, the biggest impact Baltimore has had on the hip-hop scene has been in the HBO drama "The Wire" and NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony.

That all could change this year as two MCs have taken advantage of the buzz their city's ascending sound has created. Leek — who was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and moved to Baltimore several years later — is under the watchful eyes of Jay-Z and L.A. Reid at Def Jam.

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Up-and-coming rapper Bossman, who's dropping loads of mixtapes on the streets featuring more traditional hip-hop, secured a contract with Jermaine Dupri at Virgin.

"Coming from Baltimore, it ain't — I don't want to say it's all negativity, but like I gotta keep saying, it's a constant struggle," Bossman said, walking down an East Baltimore block. "So you hear a lot of struggle in our music, you hear a lot of grind in our music. I compare it a little bit to the South. But we still got our East Coast flavor with our music, and it's real street and it's us. It's our own area. It comes from the club music. If you listen to the club music, it's [fast-paced] and [has] a lot of energy. Because that's the music you need.

"Club music is like that," he added. "It's got a lot of energy, a lot of power to it, 'cause that's what we going through. We need that music to get our frustration off. That's what we call party music. That's been poppin' for a minute. It's real bass-heavy, real dark, so we just trying to bring that to the world."


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   Photo: Def Jam


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