iHeart Memphis: I Spent $35 Making Hit Song 'Hit the Quan'
iHeart Memphis scored his breakout record with “Hit The Quan,” a sing-songy smash based on a popular dance by Rich Homie Quan. While some artists might be wary of being pigeonholed by the success of a trendy song, Memph is embracing the lane “Hit The Quan” is carving.
“My music is danceable,” says the 22-year-old rapper. “You have to come up with the dance first and then put the music on top of it. As long as it's catchy, people are going to do it.” "Hit The Quan" has quickly climbed to No. 20 on the Hot 100. iHeart Memphis spoke with Billboard about creating the hottest new dance in rap.
How did "Hit the Quan" first come about? What's the story behind the song?
Me personally just being myself and having fun. I've been a popular guy in Memphis, so I had a Memphis fanbase. And a song by Rich Homie Quan called "Flex" it came out and it was this little dance that he do. And people really like the dance, but they didn't have a song to the dance, so I made a song to the dance called "Hit the Quan." I was just having fun, being myself and came up with an idea. It was actually a female -- a white girl -- who gave me the idea to do it, because she put me on to Rich Homie Quan. So actually, a female is the reason. I keep forgetting.
How did it go from an idea to a full-blown song? Did you hear the beat first? Come up with the words first?
I knew how I wanted it to go. Like, "Hit the Quan," hit the quan, get down low and swing your arms. It's really a freestyle. I really freestyled "Hit the Quan." I freestyle a whole lot. But the hook was planned. I called my producer and I said, "Hey, can you make me a beat like Rich Homie Quan's beat?" I wanted the tempo to be the same so I could be able to hit his dance in it. And in a couple of hours, he sent me the beat and I went to his studio that same day and I recorded it. I put it up and posted it the next day. I posted it around 5, and when I posted it, it was so many comments and so many people was just liking it.
Did you post the song on SoundCloud, or a video?
Nah, I had posted a video of me doing the main part that people love, the #HitTheQuanChallenge. I call it the #HitTheQuanChallenge. I had made a challenge too, so that's another thing that made it buzz, because it's a challenge, so people say, "Hey, I gotta try this challenge."
What was it about RHQ's dance for his song that made you want to do this?
Well, I know a lot of people take people's dances because the people that make the best dances, they don't really have good lyrics. And the people that have good lyrics, they really can't dance. If they have both of them, those are what you call a superstar because they're multi-talented. The people that can make people like their music and make people dance, they're called superstars. You have to come up with the dance first and then put the music on top of it, because as long as it's catchy, people are going to do it.
Have you met or spoken to Quan? Got any response from him about the song?
Two weeks after I made the song, his baby mama had posted it. She said she liked it and thought it was cute. And I'm sure she told Rich Homie and he went on her page and seen it. I know Rich Homie knows, though. Me being No. 8 on the Billboard chart with a song called "Hit the Quan," Rich Homie Quan is going to be the first one to know. But his camp reached out to me. He personally hasn't reached out to me. But his camp reached out to me and I told them that I didn't want Rich Homie on the song because I didn't want people to think that it was his song and outshine me. Because I had a song called “Hit the Quan,” I realized that his fans are paying me attention anyway. I would kinda be selling myself short by putting Quan on it.
Did you think about maybe doing a remix with him in it?
Yeah, most likely. I’ma just put the people who are on top of the Billboard charts with me on it, whoever on the top of the charts and have a fan base I would put them on it. I was thinking about Drake and Fetty Wap [laughs] when I thought about it. I have Future saying "Hit the Quan," it don't matter, man. I don't care. I just wanna have fun and let people have fun. I’ma let the people decide who they want.
Do you have a dance background?
I taught myself how to dance last year. I just created music I can dance to. I’ll make the world do something I know how to do. Nobody will ever, ever, ever beat my first “Hit the Quan” video, because it's the first “Hit the Quan” video. I don't care if they have like a whole army hitting the Quan and I don't care if Beyoncé and Jay-Z hit the Quan and they kill it. Nothing will ever be better than the first. Like Michael Jordan. I don't care how hard anybody play because nobody will be better than Michael Jordan.
It's rare that such a big hit is independently recorded and released.
The only money I’ve spent was $35 for the studio time. I owe my engineer $5 because she charged me $40. I’m trying to stand strong behind being independent. I’m making all of this happen from social media. I’ve met with every record label; they're having a bidding war. That happened for a reason: so that I can realize what I was doing on my own.
What’s your favorite viral video of someone dancing to your song?
My favorite is when Chris Brown did it. I feel like he's not sour towards an artist shining and he's supporting and he understands it's just fun.
An edited version of this article originally appeared in the Sept. 26 issue of Billboard.