‘Harlem Shake’ fad thrills the Brooklyn DJ behind it
The up-and-coming Brooklyn DJ behind “Harlem Shake” said Monday he’s thrilled to see his cutting-edge electronic dance music (EDM) track going viral in a very big way.
“Honestly, (I’m) just happy to see people go crazy to my stuff,” Baauer told fans during a two-hour ask-me-anything session on Reddit.com as more and more “Harlem Shake” memes kept finding their way onto YouTube.
“It will definitely create lots of hype but that’s not something I worry about,” he wrote during the online chat.
“The viral craze was something totally out of my control. I see it really positively. At the end of the day lots of new people are listening to my music. Im hoping that my music will speak for itself.”
Baauer, 23, the stage name of Philadelphia native Harry Rodrigues, released “Harlem Shake” last May, four months before a New York Times music critic identified him as a rising star on the underground Brooklyn EDM scene.
Few outsiders knew of its existence, however, until February 2 when a satirical blogger named Filthy Frank, who performs video skits in a pink body suit, posted a YouTube clip of himself and friends grooving to the tune.
Within 10 days, spinoffs by everyone from firefighters and Norwegian soldiers on cross-country skis to college students and cubicle-bound office workers were being uploaded at the staggering rate of more than 4,000 per day.
In every 30-second clip, the concept is largely the same: a masked or helmeted individual boogies solo in the midst of disinterested bystanders, until, on the cue of the words “Harlem shake,” the video cuts to the whole group dancing wildly.
Baauer’s single, meanwhile, leaped into the iTunes Top 10 charts in North America, Europe and Australia — happily coinciding with an ongoing tour with producer Just Blaze that will soon take him to Britain and the Netherlands.
“The last few months have cast him as the poster child of this contemporary US fusion of dance and rap music,” says Mixed Management Group, which oversees the business side of Baauer’s promising career.
More than a few EDM enthusiasts have embraced “Harlem Shake” as welcome relief from South Korean rapper Psy’s chart-topping “Gangnam Style” that similarly generated a YouTube sensation.
But Baauer is magnanimous. “I think that guy (Psy) is doing pretty good right now, so I’m not too upset about that,” he told Interview magazine a few days ago as “Harlem Shake” took flight.
Trivia lovers will recall that the Harlem Shake was originally an urban dance style that grew out of the eponymous Manhattan neighborhood in the early 1980s when hip hop was in its infancy.
But Baauer — a one-time Harlem resident who’s previously remixed tracks by the likes of No Doubt and Prodigy — told The Daily Beast his track is no more than a sample of Philly rapper Plastic Little’s 2001 song “Miller Time.”
“I just had the idea of taking a Dutch house squeaky-high synth and putting it over a hip-hop track,” he told the news website. “And then I tried to just make it the most stand-out, flashy track that would get anyone’s attention.”
Meanwhile, the man most responsible for all the euphoria seems to be having second thoughts. “I’m thinking of just deleting the harlem shake video,” Filthy Frank tweeted Sunday. “It’s just so pointless and attracts useless people.”