At two in the morning, Superstar Pride was in his bed writing the lyrics to “Painting Pictures,” the Mississippi rapper’s first big success. By the time it left his pen, he already knew it was special, so he immediately uploaded it to YouTube and Audiomack to watch the song gain popularity.

He was content with its early upsurge, but it wasn’t until he made the track available to everyone through United Masters that he could start posting it there, which greatly expanded its audience.

The last site he had to take over was TikTok, he claimed.

In February, Pride posted a clip of himself rapping along to “Painting Pictures” while wearing his original “shag” haircut, which was long in the back and short on top. The song’s lyrics, “and mama, don’t worry, you raised a gangster, I’m a survivor,” garnered millions of views on the video and propelled it into the Billboard Hot 100. (The song is currently No. 25).

He referred to the numerous TikTok segments created around “Painting Pictures” by saying, “I f— with all of them.” “A pair caught my attention, along with someone driving an airplane and another man driving a Suburban. It was insane.

Pride’s tale is by no means exceptional. In recent years, TikTok has emerged as the go-to medium for aspiring musicians to establish themselves, not only through their own short-form videos but also through those of others who use their music as the soundtrack to their own content.

Thanks in part to the platform, artists like Doja Cat, Lizzy McAlpine, and Ice Spice, to name just a few, have experienced meteoric rises, engaging with fans through humor, authenticity, or both. Look no further than Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit song “Dreams,” which made a comeback on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2020, to see how the app has given second chances to songs whose time had apparently come and gone.

The 14 tracks that topped the Billboard Hot 100 last year—including Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” Jack Harlow’s “First Class,” and Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit”—were “driven by significant viral trends on TikTok,” according to TikTok’s end-of-year report.

Related: Marketers Are Concerned About The Newest Threat Of TikTok Tans

According to Bill Werde, who oversees Syracuse University’s Bandier music program and distributes the Full Rate No Cap newsletter, “in the early days of streaming, people said it would democratize music.” “However, I don’t believe it did because it becomes very challenging to enter when the entrance barrier is lowered. Major labels, as well as other businesses and artists with sizable marketing expenditures, really benefited from Spotify.

Werde continued, “TikTok came along, though, and really turned that idea on its head. On TikTok, “anyone could break, and anyone did break.”

TikTok, however, confronts an uncertain future in the US. The Chinese firm ByteDance, which owns the app, would be required to sell to an American company, or President Biden would be given the power to outright ban TikTok in the United States. Government representatives have dubbed the app a “national security threat” due to the possibility that China could order Bytedance to hand over the data of its American users or disseminate false information to incite its citizens to oppose China.

During a congressional session last Thursday, lawmakers from both parties of the aisle barraged TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew with questions about everything from data privacy to drug use while generally appearing to have no idea how the app actually operated.

According to Jonathan Daniel, the founder of Crush Music, which among others manages the careers of Miley Cyrus and Green Day, whenever there is something related to music, like the [Parents Music Resource Center], it feels so strange because the people asking the questions are not that familiar with what it is. “It’s not really their fault; the investigators who are questioning TikTok presumably only downloaded the app at the time of the investigation. They lack expertise in it.


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