Bobby Shmurda is having the best summer ever. After bubbling in his native Flatbush, the 20-year-old has skyrocketed from relative obscurity to viral star upon the heels of “Shmoney Dance.” The track and its swaying, dance accompaniment are the stuff that Vine dreams are made of. It’s no wonder the video has generated millions of views and propagated a slew of hilarious parodies, including one set to the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”
It was only a matter of time before hip-hop took notice. In June, Meek Mill invited Bobby to perform with him at the famed King of Diamonds strip club, while Raekwon brought out the neophyte onstage at the 2014 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. Drake did his version of the dance while hosting the ESPYS, but the pièce de résistance came when both Beyonce and Jay Z gave a nod to “Shmoney Dance” on their On The Run tour at the MetLife Stadium last week.
It’s a lot to take in for the kid who never really wanted to be a rapper in the first place. Serendipity or not, Bobby Shmurda now has our attention. During our interview at Phil’s Pizza on Varick, Hot 97’s morning show host Ebro Darden stopped by just to show his appreciation and before the week was over, Bobby inked a deal with Epic Records. It’s the type of mindfuck that could easily go to a rookie’s head, but Bobby seems collected, almost in awe. In between bites of a plain slice, he talked to us about being hip-hop’s new hotshot.
This has been a whirlwind week for you. Everyone in hip-hop is talking about Bobby Shmurda.
You don’t seem very excited. You know, you’re allowed to be excited.
[Cracks smile]. I do! I’m happy. I appreciate everything. I’m staying humble. I’m trying to stay humble. While growing up, everybody told me I should rap, this and that. Now, I’m really taking it seriously, working. It was kind of surprising but not surprising. I always felt I would make it.
Since you didn’t want to be a rapper as a kid, what did you want to be?
[In Jamaican accent] A badman. [Laughs]. I wanted to be like 50 Cent or something.
Beyonce and Jay Z both paid homage to your “Shmoney Dance” during their On The Run tour. Did you have any idea that was going to happen?
Shout out to the Queen. Shout out to the King. I knew he was gonna say something, because after Bey heard it, I knew he had to hear it. I appreciate that a lot. I’m trying to reach out to them.
What’s been the highlight of your week? (Asked before his record deal was announced)
I was with French [Montana] last night. That was the highlight. He brought me out for a video shoot.
It seems like New York rappers are really looking out for you. What’s been the best advice any of them has given you?
A lot of them give me advice. Take it for advantage. Take it serious.
When you’re a viral sensation, people often think that you’re suddenly rich or successful. How has day-to-day life changed for you?
I don’t live where I used to live no more [in Flatbush]. My manager moved me out because he didn’t want me to get in trouble. I live in New York and I live in Miami. Also, a lot of numbers in my phonebook changed. [Laughs]. I used to get a lot of weed guys’ numbers, now I’m getting a bunch of artists’ numbers.
Are you worried that being attached to a dance will hurt your career?
It’s positive. Bringing dancing back. A lot of people don’t like to dance in rap no more. Everybody wants to two-step and look gangster. I’m not a trained dancer but I got moves. It’s natural.
You were the guy who got all the girls at the school dances.
Yeahhh. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Some people have dubbed your music style as “New York drill.” Do you agree with that?
Nah. I don’t like that. We did this before we heard of drill. We’ve been rapping even before we heard of Chicago. To tell you the truth, I ain’t really know about Chicago until Chief Keef and ’em. We’ve been doing what we’ve doing before. I’m 20. I’ve been in the streets since like 10.
You mention selling crack since the 5th grade on “Hot N*gga.” What does selling crack mean to a 10-year-old? I was watching Nickelodeon at that age.
That’s the thing. I was never chilling with kids my age. I was chilling with older kids. In school, I was always bad. I was either in the suspension room or with the deans and them and they was talking to me all day. I was one of those kids. When I leave school, I was hanging with the older dudes. I was hard-headed. A lot of people tried to tell me to stay out of it but I wanted to do it myself. It was fun money. Like, I could go buy $100 of weed, shoes, without asking nobody.
You were smoking weed at 10 years old?
Yeah. I started about 10.
When did you stop dealing?
When I made $3000 off rap in a week. Doing shows. My fans, shows and the love. I do it for the people. Last year, I ain’t really care about it at first. I kept doing for the people because they said, “We need more songs.” I be on the block and they be giving money, “Go to the studio. Go to the studio.”
When was the a-ha moment when you decided to leave that life for music?
Uh, I got in trouble. Caught a charge. It was a wake-up.
How are the folks back in Flatbush treating you now? Are you feeling any jealousy or backlash?
My neighborhood loves me. I don’t feel [jealously] in my neighborhood but guys in other neighborhoods. [Pauses]. It comes with the territory.
The hip-hop industry is notorious for crowning a new artist one week and then tearing him down (or worse, forgetting about him) the next. Are you worried about that happening?
Um, sometimes. Once I set something in my mind, it stays in my mind. If I think I look good in an outfit and a bunch of people tell me I look ugly, I still will think I look good. You can’t let stuff get to you.