Besides being at the forefront of the electro-trap music movement, Brooklyn-based producer Baauer made headlines when his track “Harlem Shake” became the first viral sensation to debut on top of the Billboard charts thanks to calculating YouTube plays. An aspiring bedroom producer since the age of 13, Harry Rodrigues took the name Baauer to brand his electro-trap tracks, which combined crunk hip-hop beats, dance music tempos, and clever samples off video-sharing sites.
He made his official debut in early 2012 when his bass-heavy party track “Dum Dum” was released by the LuckyMe label on a one-sided, laser-etched 12″. Diplo’s Mad Decent label then signed Baauer and released “Harlem Shake” on their sub-imprint Jeffree’s in May of that same year. At first, the track made waves amongst the EDM and electro-trap faithful, but in early 2013, it exploded into the mainstream thanks to an Internet meme where individuals uploaded amateur videos of themselves dancing to the song. Football teams, firemen, college kids dressed as Power Rangers, and even SeaWorld animals were all seen doing the Harlem Shake, and the collective views quickly climbed into the thousands, then millions. Baauer benefitted from YouTube’s new “Content ID” system, which allowed users to use the song with the producer and label benefitting from any ad revenue.
At the end of February, as Baauer was at the point of announcing his debut EP for Mad Decent, along with a collaboration with hip-hop producer Just Blaze, Billboard changed their formula for calculating charts and added YouTube-streaming data to the mix of sales and radio plays. “Harlem Shake” debuted at number one the next week. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi