It should go without saying that TikTok has become a go-to platform for discovering new music. For some, the app is considered a hub for emerging artists to grow their fan bases, while record labels, managers, A&Rs and everything in between are on the prowl for influencers to help a song gain traction. And now, the social media juggernaut, whose website was visited more often than Google last year, is sparking a wave of user-generated content that’s revolutionizing the music industry.
Lola Brooke is the latest beneficiary of TikTok’s record-breaking potential. Last week, a hilariously snappy mother-daughter moment between Kim Kardashian and North West surfaced on their shared TikTok account, @kimandnorth, and "Don’t Play With It" featuring Billy B was playing over the clip. In the 5-second video, Kim attempts to style her daughter’s edges before she pulls away and starts gesticulating to the track. Beyond Kim K’s stamp of approval, Lola has also been championed by the likes of Cardi B, City Girls’ JT and most recently Funkmaster Flex, who labeled the hit record "THE HOTTEST SONG IN THE CLUBS / STREET!" via Instagram.
Still, the self-described "Big Gator" isn’t the first (or last) rapper to have a viral banger on TikTok. Earlier this year, rap newcomer Ice Spice set the internet on fire when she uploaded "Munch (Feelin’ U)" on all streaming platforms. From a cosign by Drake, who also invited Ice Spice to OVO Fest 2022, to different versions of her trendy "You thought I was feelin' you?" line, the song took off, accounting for over 589,000 creations and landing spots on the Billboard Rhythmic Airplay, Bubbling Under Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and her first career entry on the Hot 100.
Similar to Lola and Ice Spice, there are countless other rappers who have blown up this year within the app. But there’s more than meets the trend when it comes to understanding the benefits of using TikTok. A staring contest has breathed new life into Snoop Dogg’s 2007 single "Sensual Seduction," amassing over 550,000 creations. Meanwhile, the troubadour of toxicity, Future, has spent the last 30 weeks on the charts for his Grammy-nominated collaboration with Drake and Tems, "Wait For U," thanks to the song’s spellbinding chorus–which has resulted in multiple viral videos.
In a nutshell, the industry’s attention on TikTok isn’t baseless. Songs that trend on TikTok often end up on a curated playlist or Billboard chart. Not to mention, 67 percent of TikTokers are more likely to seek out songs on music-streaming services after hearing them on the app, according to research from MRC Data last year. With that in mind, XXL looks at hip-hop songs that have skyrocketed and become globally recognized because of TikTok. From Lil Uzi Vert to Armani White and more, check out the full list below.—Derrius Edwards
"Munch (Feelin’ U)"Ice Spice
From girls screaming the song’s hook at the top of their lungs to Lil Baby putting his own spin on the iconic "You thought I was feeling you?" lyric, Ice Spice knows how to make a viral hit. The New York drill rapper burst onto the music scene with her breakout single, "Munch (Feelin’ U)," released mid-August, and was welcomed to instant internet success. The song, which was initially teased back in June, has dominated TikTok, amassing over half a million creations and 28 million streams on Spotify to date, earning Ice Spice an arguable Rookie of the Year nod.
On March 31, Jack Harlow posted a snippet of "First Class" on TikTok, along with a video of him in the studio dancing to it as a teaser. Since then, the 13-second clip has earned upwards of 5.9 million likes in nearly eight months. The song, which has spawned over 500,000 creations on TikTok, is a new age mix of "Glamorous" by Fergie and original content from the former 2020 XXL Freshman. "First Class" is the second single (following "Nail Tech") from Harlow’s sophomore LP, Come Home the Kids Miss You, released on May 6 via Generation Now/Atlantic Records. The track has also landed Harlow his second chart-topping song on the Hot 100, following last year’s "Industry Baby" with Lil Nas X.
"How can I be homophobic? My bitch is gay," is the opening line of Central Cee’s provocative single, "Doja," previewed back in July. With roping lyrics like that, the song took off in no time, literally the same month it was released (July 21), accounting for hundreds of thousands of creations on TikTok. The videos typically revolve around lip dubs that speak to the LGBTQ+ lifestyle. This, along with a Cole Bennett-directed music video, have allowed the U.K. sensation to score a top 20 debut on Billboard’s Global Charts. The track stands as Central Cee’s highest-charting single in the U.K.
"Billie Eilish"Armani White
Popular Philadelphia rapper Armani White gained traction on TikTok after he teased "Billie Eilish," his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, numerous times on the app. On April 5, White’s "Big T-shirt" trend, which encouraged TikTokers to trade in their baggy fits for a more stylish look, was one of many videos that made the song an instantly recognizable viral smash. With nearly 3 million creations and counting, the track eventually garnered support from icons such as Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Tom Brady, LeBron James and even the big T-shirt-wearing pop artist of the same name, Billie Eilish.
When TikTok unveiled its "Police Runner" filter, it’s likely that the social media giant had no idea that it would help Finesse2Tymes promote his breakout hit single, "Back End," which currently sits at 429,000 creations. Through a trend (started in mid-2022) that sees the app’s users making light of double standards, with the line "It’s cool when they do it/It’s a problem when I do it/Fuck ’em!" playing over the clip, Finesse’s track (released on July 22) started to pick up momentum as more people got involved. Most notably YouTube personality MrBeast took part; he's developed a reputation for his expensive stunts.
"Betty (Get Money)"Yung Gravy
With "Betty (Get Money)," Yung Gravy earned his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, two years after landing back-to-back projects on the Billboard 200 (Baby Gravy II with bbno$ and Gasanova). The song, released on June 10, took social media by storm with some help from a TikTok two-step to the Minnesota rapper’s "Damn, Gravy, you so vicious/You so clean, so delicious/How come you ain’t got no misses/Count that paper, count them riches" lyrical sequence, which has notched over 400,000 creations on TikTok.
"Just Wanna Rock"Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert is the latest to dial in on TikTok success thanks to a dance trend. His recently released single "Just Wanna Rock" kicked off a challenge that has trended upwards since the song’s inception on Oct. 17. Similar to Blicking, TikTok users, twitch streamers and other content creators have flooded the app with over 500,000 clips of them shaking their hips. And in return, the North Philly rapper has experienced a five-week stay on the Hot 100 for his new party anthem.
"Super Freaky Girl"Nicki Minaj
Despite not receiving any 2023 Grammy nominations for her Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single "Super Freaky Girl," Nicki Minaj is a shoo-in for creating viral content. That idea was proven after releasing the track back in August, as TikTok dances (that were created that same month) set the stage for the inevitable trending song. With nearly 600,000 creations at the moment, the flip of Rick James’ 1981 smash "Super Freak" also contributed to the Queen rapper’s 14-week run on the Hot 100.
"Pushin P"Young Thug featuring Gunna and Future
Back in January, Gunna took social media by storm with the release of "Pushin’ P," his Grammy-nominated collaboration with Future and Young Thug. The song, which had a snippet surface at the tail end of 2021, inspired TikTokers to create a slew of unique videos where users lip-synch to Future’s "She not a lesbian, for P, she turn Pesbian" line while fingerspelling the letter "P." The viral videos have accounted for over 600,000 creations on TikTok. The track was featured on Gunna’s DS4Ever earlier this year and debuted at No.7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"F.N.F. (Let's Go)"Hitkidd & GloRilla
GloRilla had social media (and the summer, for that matter) in a chokehold when she teamed up with Hitkidd to drop "F.N.F. (Let’s Go)." The song, which was first previewed in a since-deleted Triller video and has over 300,000 creations on the platform, released on April 29. It was also dubbed an instant hit after the #FNFChallenge came into the picture. Since then, Big Glo and her "ratchet-ass friends" have graced national and international stages. She also signed to Yo Gotti’s CMG imprint and the song debuted at No. 91 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Flo Milli’s "Conceited" trend is one of many dance crazes to have a viral moment on TikTok. The song serves as the lead single from the former 2021 XXL Freshman’s debut studio album, You Still Here, Ho?, released on July 19 via RCA Records. The Mobile, Ala. rap star was on a tear mid-summer as her fiery single started to pick up steam, thanks to the 40-inch "long-ass weave" that flows down Flo’s back. Accounting for over 700,000 creations, "Conceited" landed at No. 6 on TikTok’s Top Tracks chart in the June 20-26 tracking week.
Rob49 is making major headway this year as an artist on the rise. From teaming up with Lil Baby for the remix of his popular single, "Vulture Island V2," to signing with Geffen/Interscope, 2022 has been nothing short of a breakout year for the New Orleans-bred newcomer. But nothing beats going viral, as evidenced by a TikTok trend that has made "Vulture Island" (the precursor to Rob’s supercharged collaboration with Lil Baby) the unofficial soundtrack for University of Georgia's Pi Beta Phi sorority’s cool handshake. Beyond the trend and sound which has over 250,000 video creations, Rob49’s hit single earned the No. 8 spot on TikTok’s Top Tracks chart in the June 27-July 3 tracking week.
"Tomorrow 2"Glorilla featuring Cardi B
What’s better than one viral song? Two. And Memphis rapper GloRilla is the latest to cash in on TikTok's unrivaled grasp on internet culture. Her collaboration with Cardi B, "Tomorrow 2," sparked a wave of unique challenges and over 200,000 videos in which some TikTok users assemble their ride-or-die crew while others (including Chicago rapper G Herbo) try to dance like Big Glo.
Still, there’s more to unpack here. Cardi B’s verse on TikTok has over 100,000 creations on the platform. And during an episode of Million Dollaz Worth of Game, the show's co-host (Gillie Da Kid) was so caught up in the moment while playing her record that he screamed with excitement, and the scream that he let out kick-started a new sound on TikTok, which has nearly 40,000 creations itself. GloRilla also reached a new milestone in her flourishing career, landing at No. 9 on the Hot 100 and giving the CMG artist her first top 10 and top 40 entry.
Yeat and his self-described Gentleminions, plus their formal attire, have taken "Rich Minion" to the next level. From concept to trend, the song (released on June 27) was recorded as backing music for a Cole Bennett-directed trailer for Minions: The Rise of Gru. Throughout the track, the Portland rapper "yeatsplains" economics, most often regarding how much money he got paid to record the very song he’s rapping, which is rumored to be “A million, uh.” Besides inspiring fans to mosh inside theaters, "Rich Minion" has notched nearly 2 million creations while landing at the No. 3 spot on TikTok’s Top Tracks chart in the July 4-10 tracking week.
"I Like You (A Happier Song)"Post Malone featuring Doja Cat
"I Like You (A Happier Song)" featuring Doja Cat, Post Malone’s seventh longest-running single on the Billboard Hot 100, was one of 12 songs to chart (at the same time) for the Grammy-nominated artist. The track, which currently holds over 55 million views on YouTube, inspired a trend of videos that spotlight Posty’s impressive dance moves. Meanwhile, other clips showcase DIY hair tutorial hacks or recap footage for the New York native’s Twelve Carat Tour, amassing over 120,000 creations on TikTok.
"Wait For U"Future featuring Drake and Tems
Back in May, Atlanta rapper Future secured his second No.1 song (Drake’s 10th and Tems’ first) with "Wait For U." The Grammy-nominated collaboration was featured on Future’s I Never Liked You LP, released on April 29, and was followed by the accompanying visual one week later, which currently holds over 62 million views to date on YouTube. "Wait For U" samples Tems’ "Higher" single off the Nigerian singer-songwriter’s debut extended play, For Broken Ears. And the record together has spawned over 50,000 videos on TikTok since its release, thanks to the instrumental. The song's hashtag has over 50 million posts though, further speaking to the record's impact.
"Jimmy Cooks"Drake featuring 21 Savage
Debuting at No. 1 isn’t new for Drake. In fact, the Canadian rapper has logged 11 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in his career, the most among active rappers. In July, Drizzy set a new bar in rap after charting twice at the same time: He debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Hot 100 as a result of his seventh studio album, Honestly, Nevermind and its 21 Savage collaborative hit, "Jimmy Cooks." The line, "Bitch, don't tell me that you model if you ain't been in Vogue” has sparked a TikTok trend where people who have been featured in the fashion magazine flex their pics, which has amassed over 500,000 creations and counting.
"Don’t Play With It"Lola Brooke featuring Billy B
Brooklyn riser Lola Brooke, who’s fresh off a half-time performance for the Brooklyn Nets, is in the middle of a viral moment. In 2021, her breakout hit "Don’t Play With It" featuring Billy B, which currently sits at 5 million views on YouTube, blossomed into a regional anthem. The song has since garnered over 200,000 creations while also peaking at No. 9 on the TikTok Top Tracks chart. Not to mention, the Brooklyn drill rapper was recognized by Cardi B for her efforts. Cardi captioned a recent tweet with Lola’s "Spend all day in it!" line.