Besides Iggy Azalea’s pop hit “Fancy,” the most buzz-worthy rap song of the summer is Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N—.” Since its release in the spring, the song has accumulated 5.1 million views on YouTube and made the 20-year-old New York rapper an instant celebrity.
But while millions have watched “Hot N—” on YouTube, the song only gained notoriety after a clip from Vine showed Shmurda doing what is being called the Shmoney dance. The Shmoney is reminiscent of a bop that Sean “Diddy” Combs did at the beginning of Total’s 1995 video, “Can’t You See.” Vine users captured Shmurda’s Shmoney dance and placed different background music with the clip. The 15-second clip eventually went viral and the legend of Bobby Shmurda was born.
But unlike Soulja Boy’s breakout hit “Crank That,” Shmurda’s “Hot N—” doesn’t promote the dance. For about three minutes, Shmurda raps about shooting guns, selling dope and hanging with his boys on the block. There isn’t a hook on the song and the beat and flow seems to be borrowed from Atlanta’s trap sound and Chicago’s drill music scene. The casual listener will probably view the content in the song as uninspiring.
Aside from the New York sports paraphernalia that is worn by Shmurda and his crew, the video doesn’t look or sound like a New York-produced project. However, it’s arguably the biggest New York rap song since A$AP Rocky’s “F— Problems.”
The buzz of “Hot N—” led to a reported record deal with Epic Records. And that’s Shmurda’s biggest obstacle. In today’s rap world, artists rarely sign with a major record deal with only one hit song. Artists such as Migos, Rich Homie Quan and Problem have released several hit songs and mixtapes while independent. They developed a body of work before thinking about going major.
Like Shmurda, Trinidad James released a hit song (“All Gold Everything”) and signed with Def Jam without an established body of work. James has yet to recapture the buzz of 2012 because he was given the world before his shoulders were strong enough to carry it.
To avoid James’ fate, Shmurda must reveal more of himself through his music. Although the Atlanta trap sound and Chicago drill music served as a decent entry into the industry, it probably won’t sustain him for an entire career. The Shmoney dance will also likely be old by the time winter rolls around.
But this is Shmurda’s summer and he’s living the dream of a kid who made a song and signed a big record deal. If he plays his cards correctly, he could help bring New York’s flailing rap scene back to prominence. But if he, and the label, depend too much on the dance and the sounds and styles of other regions, it’ll be another sad story of a promising artist who fell victim to his own gimmick.