Billboard is celebrating the 2010s with essays on the 100 songs that we feel most define the decade that was -- the songs that both shaped and reflected the music and culture of the period -- with help telling their stories from some of the artists, behind-the-scenes collaborators and industry insiders involved.
Atlanta native Silentó (real name Ricky Hawk) became an overnight celebrity at age 17 thanks to his dance track “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” which hit the Internet and airwaves in May 2015 to major viral success. After dropping on SoundCloud, iTunes and YouTube, the song -- which commands listeners to do popular 21st century dance moves, such as the two mentioned in the song’s subtitle -- eventually peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for six non-consecutive weeks.
To create the hit, the now-21-year-old musician contacted hip-hop music maker Bolo Da Producer via Instagram. Although the producer had reservations about working with teens, he obliged, as Silentó was eager to make magic. “For, like, two months he kept trying to tell me, ‘Hey, I got this song, it's going to be a hit record,’ and I thought it was the craziest idea,” Bolo tells Billboard over the phone.