Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda’s rise has been almost as fast as the Web connections that fueled it. In March, he released his raw, homemade debut video for his aggressive breakout single “Hot N—a.” At one point in the clip, the Jamaican-American rapper tosses his hat in the air and hits his now-ubiquitous Shmoney Dance, a deceptively simple, side-to-side hip swing (see below). “We Caribbean — you know we dance,” says Shmurda, 20, born Ackquille Pollard. “We’ll dance and shoot the shit out of somebody right after.”
A Vine user looped the moment on June 24, and Shmurda’s dance quickly went full meme, with hundreds of other users posting imitation clips. Celebs like Kevin Durant and Beyoncé eventually joined in on the fun. The original Vine has been looped more than 3.3 million times, propelling “Hot N—a” to more than 11.5 million YouTube views at press time and earning Shmurda a deal with Epic Records in July. Epic executive vp A&R Sha Money XL won’t disclose the 360 deal’s value, but rumors have placed it anywhere from the high six figures to $2.8 million, prompting criticism from some. “There’s no such thing as overpaying a young black man,” says Sha, who helped launch 50 Cent. “This is an opportunity when someone can either take the money and go away, or take it and blow up.”
Shmurda says he’s on the latter track, recording an upcoming EP/mixtape Shmurda She Wrote, planning an LP for early 2015, and gladly leaving his past job — selling drugs — behind. “This is the new trap, and we’re going trap till the wheels fall off, then keep going,” he vows. “I’m doing this till I die — I’m going out like Michael Jackson.”
The Shmoney Dance : A How-To (clockwise from top left)
1. Toss your hat in the air like you just don’t care.
2. Strike a B-boy stance (and stick out your hip like no one’s watching).
3. Flip your hip and open your arms, like you’re about to hug your invisible friend.
4. Bend your left leg, stick your hip back to the other side and lean in. Congrats: You just did the Shmoney Dance!
This article first appeared in the Aug. 30 issue of Billboard