To Be "On:" Ten Years of "Wipe Me Down"


Jaylin Paschal

The first time I heard Boosie's "Wipe Me Down," I was on the carport of my great-grandmother's country home in Bolivar, TN. The song hadn't made it's way to Ohio yet, so that summer in Tennessee was an introductory process to what would be a single that followed me all the way to college. My older cousins, Will and Jarvis, were teaching the remaining sixteen of us (no exaggeration) the corresponding dance moves. We danced outside, in the heat of a Tennessee summer for hours every day. And every day, "Wipe Me Down" made the playlist.

Since then, it's been inducted into family reunion shuffles, after we do all the mandatory line dances but before our parents make us dougie and whip and naenae. And we've complimented cookout looks by wiping each other down. Shoulders, chests, pants, shoes, respectively.

The song is legendary simply because it elicits a mandatory response. It is one of the songs from an era which produced "Swag Surfin'," "It's Goin' Down" "Crank Dat" and "Knuck if You Buck." You had no choice but to surrender your body to the cultural requirements. It became a fixture of the times--all the while defining, in fact, what it means to be "on."

"Cause I'm on" was the repeated lyric which--although now implies cultural relevance--at the time simply existed as a flex mechanism.

I pull up at the club VIP
Gas tank on E
But all drinks on me (wipe me down)
Fresh kicks, fresh white tall tee
Fresh NFL hat, fresh bauds with the crease (wipe me down)
— Foxx, "Wipe Me Down"

But despite the Hip Hop-fashioned flex, "Wipe Me Down" was relatable. My cousins and I, and other "normal" people across black America, could relate to this sort of bragging. Gas tank on E? Too real. Boosie even raps, "Fresh fade, fresh J's, on the corner playing spades/ I'm an ordinary person but I'm paid." Jordan's and a spade game is the type of real-life balling that kids in the red-dirt hills of Tennessee can comprehend, and even see for themselves.

Granted, there are still mentions of diamond grills, thousand dollar chains and Diddy encounters, but a significant amount of being "on" is connected to simple pleasures. Fresh kicks, fresh white tees and making it to the club on nothing but faith are staples of a standard good day in the early 2000's.

So ten years later, it's only right that we express thanks for the cultural force that is "Wipe Me Down." It's still on, we're still on.

Jaylin PaschalComment