The Carlton Dance is a fun, boppy sequence performed by Carlton (duh), played by Alfonso Ribeiro, first during episode Christmas Show in the second season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, after which it’s repeated through the series — often to Tom Jones’ upbeat pop number, It’s Not Unusual.
The choreography features swinging arms in time with side-steps and swaying hips, and it’s considered a pretty iconic move — hence the term ‘The Carlton Dance’. Considering how iconic it is, it’s no wonder we see references to it all over popular media and… therein lies the problem.
Ribeiro’s not getting credit (of the dollar-and-bills variety) for the routine he put together and popularised. While he’s in the middle of formally registering the dance at the copyright office, it’s being monetised by Epic and 2K in their respective games, Fortnite and NBA 2K16. Appropriated as the Fresh emote that’s being sold to players as a bonus bundle, the similarities found in Fortnite’s cosmetic move-set to The Carlton Dance is undeniable. It’s a stark reminder that in our capitalist society, big corporations hardly think anything of making money off the hard work of artists with less socio-economic leverage.
Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes. Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2018
This isn’t the first time the issue has been brought out into the limelight. Nevertheless, Epic seems to be holding their silence on the subject matter for the time being. The court’s ruling is currently up in the air, and we can’t really see which way it’s going to fall, but hopefully, Ribeiro gets some kind of compensation for his work.
Now, treat yourself to some nostalgia with a compilation of The Carlton Dance below: