Shake Ya Ass

Album: Let's Get Ready (2000)
Charted: 30 13
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Songs about shaking butt on the dance floor proliferated in the '70s, but always couched in euphemism to keep them clean. The biggest hit of the bunch was "Shake Your Booty" by KC & The Sunshine Band, but there was also "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches & Herb and "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" by The Jacksons.

    In 2000, Mystikal made his entry into the genre with "Shake Ya Ass," taking advantage of more permissive times to make it far more suggestive. It's still about dancing, but we get the idea that all this ass-shaking will lead to some bedroom action. America was ready for it: The song got a lot of airplay and permeated the popular culture.

    In 2003, Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee teamed up for a song with a similar theme that was a #1 hit: "Shake Ya Tailfeather."
  • Mystikal is a Dirty South rapper from New Orleans with a gruff staccato delivery. He could deliver lines like "shake ya ass" and "watch yourself" with lots of punch, so this song is right in his wheelhouse. The Dirty South rappers were all the rage at this time, but most had much more fluid flows than Mystikal. Other popular acts were Outkast and Ludacris.
  • "Shake Ya Ass" was produced by the Neptunes, who wrote it with Mystikal. The Neptunes - the team of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams - also worked on the Jay-Z track "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)," around this time. They were on a sharp rise that soon got the attention of pop artists looking for modern hip-hop beats with broad appeal. Over the next few years, Britney Spears ("I'm A Slave 4 U"), Justin Timberlake ("Rock Your Body") and Nelly ("Hot In Herre") all landed Neptunes-produced hits.
  • That's Pharrell Williams on the hook ("Attention all y'all players..."). When he wrote this part he envisioned Eddie Kendricks from the Temptations singing it, and was hoping to get a similar singer to do it (Kendricks died in 1992). The record company insisted he sing it himself, and he did, although he isn't credited.

    Pharrell learned that he has a hard time getting in the right state of mind if he's writing something he's also expected to sing. "If I think that it's going to be me, then it won't be as good, and I won't be as confident," he told Rolling Stone. "It was a weird thing where I started to realize that my sweet spot is when I channel other people and I surrender to what the music needs and not let my ego or my feelings get involved."
  • Mystikal was signed to Master P's No Limit label before moving to Jive for the Let's Get Ready album. His previous two No Limit albums each sold over a million copies but didn't yield any mainstream hits. Let's Get Ready shot to #1, sold over 2 million, and produced two crossover hits: "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger (Been So Long)."

    His next album, Tarantula, was released in 2001 and didn't do nearly as well. In 2004, he started a six-year prison sentence for extortion and sexual battery. In 2015, he contributed "Feel Right" to the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars collaborative album Uptown Special.
  • Director X helmed the video, which unsurprisingly shows lots of ass shaking. It takes place at a house party where many of the lovely ladies are wearing masks a lot like the movie Eyes Wide Shut, released the previous year. Director X could create striking scenes with vivid color and speed shifts. He also did the "Danger (Been So Long)" video and went on to work with Alicia Keys, Usher, Rihanna, and many other big names.
  • The radio edit, which is used in the video, cleans up the language considerably, although the song is still called "Shake Ya Ass." Another version called the "Cleaner Radio Edit" was also released with the song retitled "Shake It Fast."
  • This song broke the "ass" barrier on the Hot 100, becoming the first song with that word in the title to chart (not counting Beck's "Jack-Ass" from 1997; Juvenile also charted with "Back That Azz Up" in 1999). Surprisingly, another "ass" song didn't chart until 2005 with Eminem's "Ass Like That."
  • "Shake Ya Ass" often shows up in movies for comic effect. In the 2002 film About A Boy, the titular boy walks down the hall at his school singing along to the song, which is playing in his headphones. A girl thinks he's smarting off, so she confronts him. After an exchange, they come to an understanding, but she warns him: "Stop telling strangers to shake their ass."

    Other films to use the song include:

    Identity Thief (2013)
    It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006)
    Friday After Next (2002)
    Juwanna Mann (2002)
    All About the Benjamins (2002)
    Crossroads (2002)
    Zoolander (2001)
    Scary Movie 2 (2001)
    Kiss of the Dragon (2001)
    Tomcats (2001)
    Down to Earth (2001)

    The "Shake It Fast" version appears in The Hot Chick (2002) and Happy Feet Two (2011).

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