One thing’s for sure: The words “Cash Money Records taking over for the ‘99 into the 2000" will always yield a visceral reaction, a sense of urgency. Move or be moved, because it’s about to go down.

But ahead of (what has now become) an iconic phrase, there’s a trigger warning, if you will.

Let’s talk about those violins. The violins that begin “Back That Azz Up” (courtesy of producer Mannie Fresh) are emblematic. As soon as a crowd hears the melody, the message is clear. Ready, set, twerk. Twerk on the tables. Twerk on the walls. Twerk on the floor. Just twerk something.

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“Back That Azz Up” is a call to action. It’s a rallying cry and a song of a particular zeitgeist that has spanned decades. From the dancers (I know y’all remember that forest green jumpsuit), to the musical production, to the bewildering lyrics (because, aside from the chorus, who actually knows what Juvenile is saying?) “Back That Azz Up” is iconic.

Within the realm of black dance songs, we’d argue that it’s superseded the swag surf, into the realm of the electric slide. Let’s argue.Back That Azz Up” must be played at every black function—BBQ, family reunion, wedding—to guarantee its success. And don’t sleep, the song’s been played at many a bar mitzvah and quinceañera, too. We’re talking about a party anthem, folks. I don’t anticipate it going anywhere, any time soon.

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Ahead of its 20th anniversary, The Root and friends reflect on Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up.” In “azz” we trust.

See the entire video above.

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About the author

Felice León

Afro-Cuban woman that was born and branded in New York. When León isn't actually creating cool videos, she's thinking of cool videos that she can create.

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