How a Viral Trend Turned “Black Beatles” Into Rae Sremmurd & Gucci Mane’s Biggest Hit

"Black Beatles" is yet another example of the internet turning a good song into a hit single.
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"Black Beatles" is yet another example of the internet turning a good song into a hit single.

“Black Beatles” isn’t Rae Sremmurd’s best song. It isn’t even the best song on SremmLife 2 (which is “Look Alive,” obviously). However, “Black Beatles” is now officially the biggest hit of both Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane’s careers—and it’s all thanks to the latest viral trend sweeping social media.

First, let’s talk numbers. “Black Beatles” climbed from No. 16 to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, topping Rae Sremmurd and Guwop’s previous best efforts (“No Type” at No. 16 and “Break Up” at No. 14, respectively). The song also jumped from No. 7 to No. 5 on the Streaming Songs Chart and climbed 11 places on the Digital Song Sales chart.

On Spotify, “Black Beatles” has been streamed over eight million times in the last seven days, bringing its total to over 38 million streams. The song currently tops the Spotify Daily Chart and sits at No. 7 on the Top 100, making it the highest ranking hip-hop song on a chart that’s desperately devoid of hip-hop.

Meanwhile, on YouTube, “Black Beatles” has racked up over 42 million views. Since late October, it’s been averaging between one and two million plays per day. Over on Pandora, “Black Beatles” spins are up a whopping 1118% over the last few weeks while the song has been added to over 100,000 stations.

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In a matter of days, “Black Beatles” has gone from a pretty popular song to a very popular song, and it’s all thanks to that #MannequinChallenge you’ve been seeing all over your Twitter timeline recently. Yeah, the one where a bunch of kids (and now famous athletes and musicians) hold freeze-frame in all kinds of wild scenarios—from a pep rally to a stick up to this stop-motion masterpiece of a girl cheating on her man.

Like most social media trends, the #MannequinChallenge was started by black high school students. Specifically, a group of students from Edward H. White High School in Jacksonville, Florida. “One day I just went to the front of the class and stood there. That’s when my friend A’laynah said ‘Hey, you look like a mannequin,’” Emeli, aka @thvtmelanin_, toldInverse. “Then my friend Bre’Onna and Jasmine joined and we started doing all these crazy poses.”

Emeli’s original #MannequinChallenge video was posted on Twitter on October 26 and has since swept social media like a viral snowball. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to the New York Giants has accepted the challenge. 2 Chainz even turned the trend into a music video (and tried to take credit for it going viral). But in many of the early mannequin challenges, the background music was just a random song from, say, Migos or Young M.A. 

It wasn’t until Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi staged their own “live” #MannequinChallenge with their audience at a show in Denver earlier this month (the video for which has over 57,000 retweets) when “Black Beatles” became the unofficial soundtrack to the internet’s latest craze—and subsequently Rae Sremmurd’s biggest song.

Like the Harlem Shake and Running Man Challenge before it, the #MannequinChallenge is just the latest example of how a social media trend can turn a good song into a hit single. Mannequin challenges will soon fade, only to be replaced by whatever new fad—and song—consumes the youth of the internet. But for now, let’s just enjoy two young rappers outchea winning.


By Andy James, who can’t grasp how anyone can stay still when “Black Beatles” is playing. Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: YouTube