Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Introducing Cocojams2 - An offshoot of Cocojams.com

Edited by Azizi Powell

Cocojams2 is an off-shoot of my cocojams.com website. I'm starting this blog because that cocojams website is inaccessible for some reason.

Luckily, I have a lot of back-up files for that site and have published some of its content on various internet sites, particularly on my other Google blogspot pancocojams, and the Mudcat folk music forum. If cocojams.com returns, I will continue to re-post cocojams.com's playground rhymes content on this blog because I believe it's important to share this material in a number of ways to better ensure that it won't be lost. Other cocojams content will be republished on my pancocojams blog (http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/ and possibly on future cocojams numbered Google blogs.


DESCRIPTION OF COCOJAMS.COM AND MY OTHER WEBSITE AND BLOGS I launched cocojams.com website in 2001 with a grant from a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania cultural foundation and technical assistance from Lucas Musewe. I wasn't aware that cocojams was an already existing word. I thought that I had coined that word by combining "coco" (meaning "chocolate", i.e. "black people) and "jams" (an African American English word for "songs").

The purpose of cocojams.com was to showcase examples of English language children's playground rhymes*, singing games, and cheers, with a special focus on examples from African American culture**.

Unlike many other online websites of children's rhymes, I used a folkloric approach to these examples, documenting as much demographical information as possible from those who contributed rhyme examples, analyzing the text and structure of rhymes, considering the possible sources for those rhymes, and what, if anything, those rhymes might mean.

An important part of the cocojams design was presenting rhymes in alphabetical order, within categories (such as "hand clap rhymes", "counting out rhymes", and "cheerleader cheers".) Another important part of cocojams design was to features versions of each rhyme without any designation of examples being "correct" or "incorrect".

Around 2002 I began to add pages to cocojams that had little or nothing to do with children's playground rhymes.

By 2014 that website had grown to include pages on a plethera of subjects, most of which having something to do with African American rhymes, chants, and songs. A partial listing of those multi-page categories included "African American civil rights songs", "fraternity and sorority chants", "19th century African American songs", "stomp and shake cheerleader cheers", "Mardi Gras Indian chants", and "military cadences". Cocojams.com also included pages on Caribbean folk songs, and pages on non-traditional American name origins and meanings. An excerpt from a non-published chapter in a book on Yoruba (Nigerian) was also published on Cocojams. And there were more cocojams pages besides those.

By 2006 I started adding YouTube videos to Cocojams pages. Those videos enabled visitors to hear one or more ways the rhyme sounded, and to see one or more ways that the rhyme was performed. Thanks to Greg Simkins for volunteering his expertise to make that design upgrade.

Around 2007 I launched my jambalayah.com website.

The focus of that website was to showcase what I considered to be "video gems" of music and dance from Africa and the African Diaspora. The pancocojams blog that I created in 2011 is a refinement and expansion of jambalayah. Consequently, I admit to neglecting that website (which for some reason is currently still accessible although it uses the same internet hosting company as cocojams.com).

In 2013, I launched another blog using the Google blogspot format.

That blog, zumalayah, showcases videos of dances & singing games done in circles or in lines, and other movement performance arts from African American culture, from African cultures, and from other cultures of the African Diaspora. That blog only has 31 post, as I decided to go back to publishing such posts on pancocojams.

I try to use a folkloric approach for all of these websites and blogs and try not to get too wordy (which, as you can tell from this post, is an ongoing battle.)


With considerable regret, I have disabled the comment feature on cocojams2 blogs (and on my other blogs except for https://pancocojams.blogspot.com, because of the large number of spam comments that I received on those blogs.

Comments for those blogs can be sent to my email address azizip17 dot com at yahoo dot com for possible inclusion in a specific post on those blogs.



Cocojams2 will be more streamlined than cocojams.com, as it will only present examples of certain categories of playground rhymes. Cocojams2 also won't feature as many versions of each featured rhyme. I intend to limit the number of versions featured to no more than seven examples per rhyme.

Cocojams2 will not include any videos, but will include some links to certain videos. I will also try to limit my text analysis and other editorial commentary. Instead, I'll refer visitors to my pancocojams blog and other internet sources for text analysis, and editorial comments of examples of specific rhymes.

It's my intention to use the following design for cocojams2:

1. Publish alphabetized examples of playground rhymes and other material within certain categories 2. Include citations and as much demographical information as I can found for contributed (or internet "harvested" examples (internet sources given as hyperlinks) 3. Present a limited amoung of folloric information (about sources, word meanings, comparison with other rhymes and songs. 4. Refer visitors to a specific pancocojams.com post or posts for text analysis, commentary, and (when possible) videos of the material featured on cocojams2. 5. Encourage visitors to add comments, questions, and examples in the comment section for each cocojams2 post.


And so, another chapter in my internet adventure begins. It's been an interesting ride thus far, and I look forward to this journey.



Rhymes - a catch-all term that means rhyming verses [playground rhymes and not nursery rhymes], cheers, singing games, and chants


1. those examples which were chanted by African Americans as well as children & youth of other races, but may have been composed by non-African Americans.

and 2. those examples that seemed likely to have been composed by African Americans given documentation that those rhymes appear/ed to be mostly chanted by African Americans, and/or given the content (subject matter, words & phrases, and/or structure of those rhymes [with "rhymes" here meaning both rhymes and cheers].

3. those examples whose contributors self-identified as African American or whose contributors indicated that they learned those examples from one or more African Americans also fit in that category.

believe that a person's race or ethnicity (with "ethnicity" in the USA meaning Latino/Hispanic) can influence what types of rhymes and/or what versions of a particular rhyme a person knows, how that rhyme is chanted or performed, and whether the person understands certain vernacular words in that rhyme.

That said, to be clear, like cocojams.com, cocojams2 will feature examples of playground rhymes from non-Black people. While I ask contributors to share demographical information ncluding race/ethnicity for folkloric reasons, rhyme examples have been posted and will continue to be posted without that information.


Thanks for visting cocojams2. Visitor comments and playground rhymes examples are welcome.

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