The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #6600   Message #1640023
Posted By: Azizi
02-Jan-06 - 08:19 PM
Thread Name: ADD: Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop/Down Down Baby
Subject: RE: Downtown Baby
Rosebrook, posted in 1998 that there was a jumprope rhyme called "Downtown Baby". I strongly believe that Little Anthony and the Imperials' hit song is based on this children's rhyme. Nelly also used the line "shimmy shimmy coco-puff" in his {definitely not family rated} hit song "Country Grammar"

There are actually numerous versions of that rhyme but the "title" is usually Down down , and not "Downtown" baby. Another title for that rhyme is "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa" {or "Coco Puff, "Coco Pa" or some such ending}. It appears that the performance activity for this rhyme has changed {at least among African American children in Pittsburgh, PA area} to partner, three, and four person handclap routines.

As is the case with many children's rhymes, "Down Down Baby" is made up of a number of different independent or semi-independent verses. Many versions of this rhyme include the same verses that are found in "I love {like} coffee/I love tea" rhymes.

IMO, Rosebrook's example is made up of a 4 separate rhymes that I would divide as follows:

Down, down baby
Down by the roller coaster
Sweet sweet baby
I'll never let you go

Shimmy shimmy ra
Shimmy shimmy ko ko bop
Shimmy shimmy ra

I met a girlfriend a triscuit
She said a triscuit a biscuit
Ice cream, soda pop,vanilla on the top

something, something
Walking down the street, 10 times a week
I said it, I meant it
I stole my momma's credit
I'm cool, I'm hot
something, something


Here's a version of the rhyme Rosebrook cited:

Down Down Baby,
Down By the Rollercoaster,
Sweet sweet Baby,
I'll never let you go,
Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop,
Shimmy Shimmy Rock,
I met a girlfriend,
A triscit,
She said a Triscit a Biscit,
Ice Cream,
Soda pop,
Vanilla on the top,
OOOH Johny,                                
Walkin down the street,
Ten Times a week,
I met [meant]it I said it
I stole my momma credit,
I'm cool,
I'm Hot,
Sock me in the stomach one more time...

Source: Octoblog Schoolyard Rhymes Thread ;posted by Ashley at August 10, 2003
{used with permission}


IMO, the "Oooh Johnny" line in the above rhyme is folk etymology for the word "Ungawa" {a word that was used in the 1970s,1980s to approximate African talk}. See this example of that verse from a New York city Latina woman's memory of her childhood in the 1980s:

"Ah beep beep, walking down the street
10 times a week
Ungawa, black power, Puerto Rican power
I said it, I meant it and now I represent it"

Source: Yasmin Hernandez, private email to Azizi, 2004

Here's my late 1960s/early 1970s memory of that verse:

Beep Beep, Bang Bang
Ungawa, Black Power!


I think that Rosebrook's "something something" line stands for words that she forgot, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if the word "Ungawa" {perhaps repeated two times} was used in that rhyme.