In March, Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Boy” (explicit version: “Hot N—a”) video hit YouTube. But it wasn’t until June, when Vine user Vladimir Francois looped the rapper’s Shmoney Dance move in the clip, that the song blew up. Now, Shmurda, 20, is signed to Epic Records, and “Hot Boy” rises 12-10 on the Oct. 25 Billboard Hot 100. Here’s how it happened.
THE PRODUCER: JAHLIL BEATS
“I made the record two years ago for Lloyd Banks’ [“Jackpot”], but it didn’t really pick up much steam and he never paid for it. Bobby brought it to life and turned it into a club anthem. He really took advantage of the track -- the way he flowed on it, the way he came in when the bass drops out, how he made the buildup go into the drop -- it was a work of art. People don’t think too deep into it, but there’s really a science to it.”
THE RAPPER: BOBBY SHMURDA
“I’m a former gang member. Before the song went crazy, before I started booking shows, I was still in the streets. My music career was on the block. I was getting a lot of love on Instagram, but [the song] wasn’t really that crazy on the streets. But after the video went viral, after people started tweeting it, people started pulling up on me on the block yelling. I’m like, ‘Damn, I can’t even be on the block no more!’”
THE MEME MAKER: VLADIMIR FRANCOIS
“The Shmoney Dance was very infectious -- his crew are all stepping and dancing in unison. His hat flip was a dope segue to the Shmoney Dance, and I wanted to capture that particular sequence. My Vine was looped perfectly -- the ‘hat that never came down’ stuck with people. The next weekend, I heard the song from a passing car. When I checked my Vine, I saw all the revines, comments and loops; they were at a million.”
THE TALENT SCOUT: SHA MONEY XL
(Executive VP Urban A&R, Epic Records)
“The last big group that made it out of New York was my crew, G-Unit. Ever since they split up, I was trying to find something in New York that made me that excited. In June, Steven Victor, Pusha T’s manager, sent me the video: ‘Sha, watch this right now.’ I met with Shmurda and didn’t let him leave. I wanted to be in business that day, not let him walk out and talk to some other label.”
THE LABEL BOSS: SYLVIA RHONE
“When we signed him, he did a pop-up show in front of our building on Madison Avenue. All of a sudden there were hordes of kids. I was in a club in the U.K. and they were playing the song and doing the dance like crazy. It’s great to see a Brooklyn kid start a movement around the world. He single-handedly brought back New York. We’re back in the hip-hop game because of Bobby Shmurda.”
Additional reporting by Timmhotep Aku.
This article first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of Billboard.