A force in the Baltimore club community and in the dance world beyond, Tamika “Fatgirl” Raye died on Nov. 2 after succumbing to injuries from a car accident. TT The Artist, a widely recognized club MC and director of the upcoming documentary about Baltimore club music and dance titled “Dark City Beneath The Beat,” described Fatgirl as “a legend in the making.” We asked Errigh “Neek B’Chillin” LaBoo, the founder of Bmore Than Dance and a close friend to Fatgirl, to reflect on the dancer’s legacy. (Maura Callahan)
The definition of a queen: a goddess or woman who holds supremacy in a realm.
Imagine for a moment that the realm is Baltimore City. A city known for violence, drugs, and poverty. In this city and in every generation, we receive a special goddess sent to impact our lives in a way that affects the next generation to come.
The Queen in question here is none other than Tamika Raye aka Fatgirl. Since birth Fatgirl showed signs of her greatness, but it wasn’t until 2008 when the entire city became witness.
A popular dance competition hosted by Bmore Than Dance known as The Queen of Baltimore, a spin-off of the all-male dance competition King of Baltimore, annually crowned the best dancer for her talent. This year the audience was in for a major surprise.
Fatgirl came in as an underdog, but by the night’s end stole everyone’s heart with a crowd of over 1200 guest in attendance. She delivered a top-scoring performance and eliminated her competition flawlessly round for round. Her win was the beginning of the city taking notice of her special talent, but her actions moving forward established her legacy.
After her Queen of Baltimore victory, Fatgirl continued to dominate the dance scene, leading her dance group to win the We Run This City #WRTC dance competition hosted by Bmore Than Dance the same year. Winning came naturally to Fatgirl, but what was more important was how the youth took a liking to her immediately.
Fatgirl inspired so many children in the community to focus on staying out of trouble and using dance as an escape from the reality of living in Baltimore City. Her dance group, HCZ BBY, has been performing all over the world since its members were children. HCZ BBY has performed for the mayor and governor, and has graced the stage of the Apollo Theater.
Her talent was so phenomenal, international recording artists such as Rye Rye and TT The Artist began to take notice. The chemistry she shared with Rye Rye could be seen from the moment they began to work with each other. TT The Artist was in attendance when Fatgirl won Queen of Baltimore and immediately felt a desire to help her get noticed. She traveled the world on international tours, inspired a documentary on Baltimore club called “Dark City Beneath The Beat,” and raised two beautiful children in the process.
Fatgirl’s impact was much bigger than her personal accomplishments. She was a mother to a community in need. She inspired an entire generation of young women. She loved and nurtured her peers, giving many a place to call home in time of need. She connected with children on an emotional level that made everyone who came in contact with her fall in love.
She inspired the culture to once again thrive after losing one of its greatest queens, the legendary DJ K-Swift. After the passing of K-Swift, Baltimore’s club scene had no idea who would continue on the legacy. While many have made an impact, very few reach the iconic level of being “Queen” of the culture.
Fatgirl was formally was crowned in 2008, the year K-Swift died, but her reign continued from that day moving forward. Her dance spirit can be felt when you see so many of today’s youth join in the culture of Baltimore club. She was a mother, a nurturer, a leader, and a friend. She leaves an abundance of individuals who reached out to her for leadership and guidance.
Words can’t explain how much Fatgirl impacted everyone who saw her dance. The movement she created will impact generations to come. While many of us mourn her being called home so early, we still feel her presence, and we know she’s still here. Her legacy will live forever in the hearts of everyone in the Baltimore club and Bmore Than Dance community.