"UP!," the debut single from 24-year-old rapper LoveRance, first floated into the upper reaches of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart as an independent release last June. Propelled by a grass-roots marketing campaign - the Bay Area native born Rance Oliver posted the song on Facebook and "walked around just giving out tapes with just that song," he says - and with fellow unknowns Skipper and the song's producer IamSu! onboard, "UP!" entered the chart at No. 96 before drifting as high as No. 70 during its initial 19-week run. By Oct. 29, "UP!" had dropped back to No. 95, then fell off the chart.
But on Feb. 4 "UP!" returned to Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs where, buoyed by a new 50 Cent verse and backed by Interscope, which signed LoveRance in September, the track has found new life. This week the raunchy anthem rises 9-7 and continues to build.
The song's success has been a victory not just for LoveRance but also Interscope executive VP of A&R Larry Jackson. "It's been a mission of mine to find a song from my hometown, San Francisco, that I can nurture and help chart into success," says Jackson, who first heard the track on KMEL San Francisco in July. (KMEL music director Big Von broke the record after the station's DJ Amen passed it along.)
On Sept. 30, Jackson met with LoveRance and Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine and, according to those involved, LoveRance signed his deal with Interscope the same day. "Jimmy and I loved the song and loved everything he played for us," Jackson says. "We decided at that point, that day, to sign him."
Once the ink dried, Jackson contacted 50 Cent about a potential collaboration. "[In] early November, I asked 50 Cent if he had heard his record," Jackson recalls. "He said, 'Yeah, I know that record. I almost signed him [after] Von brought it to me.' I said, 'I'm working with them; they're from my hood. I think you should hop on the record.' He said yes and a week later he had the verse finished."
Interscope went to radio with "UP!" featuring 50 Cent. Two months later, the song was back on the charts.
With his name on the rise, LoveRance is readying his mixtape, "Happy Fuckin' Birthday," which he plans to release later this month. As for his next single? He plans to let fans' feedback on Facebook and Twitter drive that.
"I'm going to let them tell me what they like after they listen to the mixtape," says LoveRance. "I want to give them what they want."
Additional reporting by Karinah Santiago.