We may be quarantined, but people are still finding ways to get creative from home. One popular trend on the video-sharing app TikTok has users participating in a series of dance challenges, in which one TikToker creates a dance routine, which may or may not go viral, and other TikTok users create their own videos in response, where they put their own spins on the dance.
Over the course of the last year, several songs have attained popularity thanks to these challenges on TikTok, including “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo and “Say So” by Doja Cat.
One of the more recent chart climbers whose success can be attributed to TikTok is “Savage” by Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, from her EP Suga, which was released in March. It was produced by Dallas-based J. White, who was also behind Cardi B’s “I Like It” and 21 Savage’s “A Lot.” “Savage” is currently the fifth most streamed song on Apple Music and the most streamed song on the Suga album.
According to White, the sessions for Suga took place over a year and a half. “Savage” came to life when they were working together in Miami.
“Megan said she wanted something different and special,” White says. “From 9 p.m. to 7 the next morning, we just came up with a nice record. When me and her work, it’s all day and all night.”
White has two Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s to his credit and has worked with the likes of Iggy Azalea, Gucci Mane and Tinashe. While he has a knack for producing hits, he did not anticipate the popularity of “Savage.”
“We felt it was good,” White says, “but we didn’t know it was gonna take off.”
In addition to “Savage,” White is also a fan of the tracks “Ain’t Equal” and “Captain Hook” from Suga. While “Savage” is quickly taking off, he says he can’t wait for another song that he and Megan worked on to be released.
While coronavirus concerns have prevented White from directly collaborating with other artists, he says he has been able to work remotely these last few weeks. White says he's producing tracks from home and shares them with artists via FaceTime.
“In a way, honestly, it’s been a little better because I'm able to sit down and really craft and really focus on each artist and each song,” White says.
Whether you love TikTok or hate it, or simply just don’t get it, there’s no denying that the app is a huge propeller for a song’s success in 2020. You may not catch your favorite artist or producer making TikToks directly, but you can be assured that they are grateful for the platform.
“TikTok is absolutely amazing,” White says. “I’ve seen people find [‘Savage’] on YouTube and comment ‘TikTok brought me here.’ The only thing I wish that we could get done on TikTok is make it count for streams, because the song is playing in the background, but it’s not really counting toward streams.”
The “Savage” challenge on TikTok was created by Keara Wilson, known as TikTok user keke.janajah. According to Wilson, it took about five days for the "Savage" challenge to go viral.
“I was just sitting at home and my phone was going crazy,” Wilson says. “People kept liking and commenting and asking for tutorials. It was wild. I definitely did not expect that.”
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Megan Thee Stallion has reposted Wilson’s video on her TikTok and Instagram pages but hasn't reached out to Wilson.
White says his favorite version of the “Savage” challenge is Hailey Bieber’s, while Wilson says hers is Keke Palmer’s.
“Savage” is currently sitting at 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is likely to continue to climb in the coming weeks. As for Wilson, she plans to enjoy her newfound fame.
“This has made me really happy,” Wilson says. “I am at a loss for words. It’s really been a dream come true.”