Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles ft. Gucci Mane – For three weeks running, RaeSremmurd‘s crowd-pleasing party anthem “Black Beatles” featuring Gucci Mane has rocked the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Thanks in great part to the Mannequin Challenge, a viral phenomenon where participants freeze in place on video, the duo — comprised of brothers Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jxmmi” Brown from Tupelo, Miss. — scored their first Hot 100 chart-topper. Alongside producer and Ear Drummers label boss Mike Will Made-It, they’ve become the go-to soundtrack for the latest Internet craze. (Participants include sports teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Giants, as well as Destiny’s Child and real-life Fab Four member Paul McCartney.)
As Mike Will tells it over the phone while running to a recording session with Jay Z, “Black Beatles” almost didn’t make the cut for Sremmurd’s sophomore effort SremmLife 2, the 14-track set that debuted at No. 7 (it peaked at No. 4) on the Billboard 200 in August. His two go-to engineers had gone on vacation resulting in a 15-hour session with one of the engineer’s assistants. After suggestions from A&R Aubrey “Aubz” Potter and back-and-forth editing with Swae Lee, Mike Will submitted the melodic earworm several days after the album was turned in to Interscope Records.
Billboard recently hopped on the phone with Mike Will, Rae Sremmurd’s Slim Jxmmi, Fakework Management Group founder and Mike Will’s manager DJ Mormile as well as Interscope Records vice chairman Steve Berman (Swae Lee and Gucci Mane were unavailable) to talk about the song’s rapid Internet takeover, how Sir Paul co-signed the track and the organic creative process that made the chart-topping victory extra special.