When Lil Tecca's "Ransom" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in June, the Queens rapper was just another 16-year-old trying to burst through the SoundCloud bubble. That changed swiftly when he teamed up with director Cole Bennett (founder of multimedia company Lyrical Lemonade), headed to the Dominican Republic and filmed the song’s rump-shaking video. It quickly racked up millions of views on Bennett’s YouTube channel, which has 11.6 million subscribers. Within two months, Tecca’s whistling anthem peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100.
“The music he makes is different, his voice is different,” says his manager, Giuseppe Zappala. “He has a very clear vision of what he wants to do.” In May, Republic Records signed Tecca to a joint venture with his own imprint, Galactic Records. On his 17th birthday in August, Tecca released his debut album, We Love You Tecca, which landed at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. For Tecca, the appeal is simple: “A lot of [my fans] downloaded SoundCloud just to listen to me. You have to be unique. That’s it.”