Hip Hop and TikTok: a match made in Heaven?


Drake’s “Tootsie Slide” release specifically targets TikTok users.

Hundreds of millions of people across the world are using the booming social media platform TikTok. TikTok users are able to do many things; however, a very popular feature is creating or following already established dances to songs. Because there are so many people listening to the songs played in these dance videos, all music genres, especially hip-hop, has experienced a boom in popularity hat have been blowing up on TikTok.

Roddy Ricch’s hit “The Box” that spent a total of 11 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts was a very popular song on TikTok. The song itself was very deserving of its success, but its usage on the app definitely helped its longevity. Over four million videos were made using the song, which features users doing a series of dances that many strive to memorize and perfect. The hit is no longer at #1, but its presence on the app will keep it relevant for awhile.

TikTok has been able to keep the songs of those incarcerated popular as well. YNW Melly and 9lokkNine’s “223’s” has been a very popular song. Popular users created a trendy dance that required enhanced movement of one’s feet, which spurred excitement and determination for one to master the moves. Melly is currently in jail fighting a murder charge, and he raps in the majority of the song. Without Melly himself being able to promote the song’s appearance on the app, a music video was made with his team and 9lokkNine that featured the dance. This allowed the video to amass over 22 million views on YouTube. Over 70 thousand videos have been made on TikTok using the song. The song isn’t bad; however, without it blowing up on TikTok, it likely wouldn’t have been so successful. 

Most likely the most popular TikTok dance is the “Renegade” to K CAMP’s “Lottery.” With every visit to TikTok or most any public area, it seems as if a group of people are doing the dance or at least trying to learn how. Over 30 million videos have been made using “Lottery,” which is simply incredible. And apart from the section used in the videos, the song isn’t a very good one. It simply is a “TikTok” song. This example shows just how much TikTok can help artists out. Without the viral dance, the song wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular and probably would be labeled as a bad song. K CAMP has most likely made so much money off sales from this song, and he keeps feeding the machine, as his latest release was a remix of the song with Quavo. TikTok is helping artists get even richer off of some of their most mediocre songs.

Megastar Drake has used the platform to his advantage, as well. In early April, Drake released a song titled “Toosie Slide,” which is based around a chorus that gives steps on how to do the song’s dance. Drake, for sure, had the intentions of creating a song that would go viral on TikTok based on the song’s lyrics. He knew that if he produced a song that fans would use on the app, the song’s popularity would boom and so would the numbers for the song. 

That thought came to life as the track debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list. Over two million videos have been made using the song on TikTok with many celebrities joining the challenge as well. It’s clear that not only up and coming stars are using the app for their benefit.

2020 XXL Freshman candidates have benefited greatly from TikTok. Don Tolliver first rose to fame on Travis Scott’s “CAN’T SAY”; however, it was his song “No Idea” that brought many fans into his current army of supporters. Many admired his melodic tune and used the track for a dance, which has been done in over 10 million videos. 

Similar to Tolliver, Doja Cat’s “Say So” has been a popular song in terms of producing a dance routine that many have followed in a viral sense. Over 20 million videos have been made using the sound, which is simply incredible for Doja Cat. Without the success of the songs on the TikTok, no one knows if these artists’ careers would be as successful as they have become. They certainly wouldn’t have had as much as an impact on global culture and likely wouldn’t have been as successful as they are.

Lil Mosey’s “Blueberry Faygo” may not have ever been released if it wasn’t for its success on TikTok. Back in 2019, many different hackers leaked his highly anticipated song. After being leaked so many times, many TikTok users utilized the catchy chorus to make a dance that many would continue to follow. Mosey, until the viral dance, was likely not going to release the song officially since it was leaked many times. Instead, he saw the success his unreleased song was enjoying. He added a second verse and released it officially. Over two million TikTok videos have  used with the official audio, contributing to the success of his hottest hit so far, which peaked at #16 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Although the benefits seem infinite for artists, there is a negative aspect when TikTok uses the songs for viral challenges: overusing and overplaying great songs. This negative effect really only affects diehard fans who hate to see their favorite songs being played constantly on the radio as they get tired of hearing it every second. For example, many have complained that “OUT WEST” by Travis Scott and Young Thug was ruined by TikTok overuse, which makes sense. When “OUT WEST” was first released, another track from the duo was great to have after the success the two have had on previous releases. The song was great; however, after being used on TikTok so many times, it gained the reputation of a TikTok song rather than a track from two of our generation’s greatest.

 A form of deculturation is the best way to describe this process as people truly forget about the song’s great features, but only remember it as being famous for the portion of it that is used on TikTok. The success that has been gained by Young Thug and Travis Scott from the song is undoubtedly incredible, so it’s doubtful that they care about what people perceive of the hit. However, it is still important to note what the app may do to the top songs of the culture.

Clearly, TikTok and hip-hop have been benefiting from each other. As one’s success goes up, so does the other’s. Artists who are up and coming to those who are already popular have used the app to their advantage. If this pattern continues, the culture of hip-hop will be changing in both good and bad ways. Artists may focus more on producing songs for the TikTok, and while the songs could still be great tracks, they may be overlooked as TikTok hits rather than the great pieces of art they truly are. Either way, when celebrities are all gaining off of each other’s talent, is there really any downside?