Still riding on the wave of his summer hit “Blurred Lines” that spent weeks at No. 1 on Billboard charts, R&B singer Robin Thicke is turning heads again with his latest video for his new single “Give It 2 U.”
The song, which features rappers Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz, is making its way up the charts but it's the video that has people talking. Gaining multiple hits on YouTube, Vevo and other sites, the video features the Alabama State University Stingettes and the Albany State University Passionettes.
Thicke's wife, actress Paula Patton, made the suggestion to feature the Black college dance teams in the football halftime show-themed video. Shooting took place over six days earlier this month in Los Angeles. The dance teams were selected by the HBCU Dance Corp. who ranked them among the top five in the country.
Both ensembles were featured at Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) live from Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The 24 dancers were in the in the city last week rehearsing for the big performance.
“In this situation we connected dance teams to huge opportunities,” said Keelia Brown, founder of the HBCU Dance Corp. “The production company contacted us with the request to incorporate two dance teams for the Robin Thicke video. We only wanted to recommend teams that were in our top five and we want the rest of the world to see how exciting the HBCU dance style is giving more exposure to the schools.”
This is not the first time the Alabama State has been exposed to the national audience. The marching band and its dance teams were featured on TBS, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Steve Harvey Show and a music video for gospel singer Vicki Winans.
“You take an ordinary group of girls who are living an ordinary life and you throw them in the celebrity type lifestyle and they are treating us like stars,” said dancer Lydia Mitchell. “We love it.”
Alabama State University band director Dr. James Oliver said that he hand-picked 12 former and current dancers from his school. Many of the women are aspiring professional dancers. Both teams worked up to 12 hours per day perfecting the video and VMA performance
He said, “These young ladies know what they are doing. The HBCU element is a hidden big secret. There is so much talent here. This is going to be so good for the HBCUs because there are great dancers that go to these schools. Now they are going to expose us and we will be prepared for whatever else.”
Current dance team captain for the Alabama State Stingettes, Ashley Harris, is featured prominently in the video. Midway through Thicke is seen singing to her while she leads the other dancers in a stands routine.
“I had to call some of the other dancers to make sure it was all real,” said the junior who is majoring in Public Relations. “It was so surreal. It caught me by such a surprise. I feel overwhelmed because people in the HBCU community were already watching me but this feels like a dream and I want to be a role model.”