TikTok is undeniably one of the most powerful driving forces behind today’s sounds and voices, shaping the music tastes and listening patterns of Millennials and Gen Z alike. Songs uploaded to the app can jump to global hit-level faster than ever and turn artists you might have never heard of into tomorrow’s pop stars (quite literally) overnight.
Wondering what the latest TikTok sensation is? You are in the right place! What’s Poppin’? will keep you updated on the hottest (non-genre specific) tracks and the most popular artists coming out of the platform with weekly articles and a monthly playlist.
SL – GENTLEMAN
Born in Peckham in 2001, Croydon-raised SL is one of the youngest and most exciting drill artists in the UK. Nominated ‘one to watch’ by the Guardian last year, SL is the pioneer of what he describes as “tropical drill”. Moving away from the harsh and minimalistic atmosphere of UK drill, the 19-year-old rapper’s laid-back flow and melodic beats create a refreshing soundscape that sets him apart from the rest of the scene. The epitome of SL’s very personal take on drill? None other than Tropical, his most popular track to date.
SL recently showcased his versatility and signature sound in his latest EP, Selhurst SE25. Including the lead single Hit The Block featuring Coventry’s very own Pa Salieu, the project sees SL deliver his lyrics about girls, money and weed over the 808-heavy productions by the highly experimental American hitmaker, Kenny Beats. Although less “tropical” than his breakthrough single, SL’s stretched cadence allows him to rap smoothly over each different beat, making the EP come together and sound like a coherent, well-structured piece of music.
We know what you must be thinking right now..
What about Gentleman though?
Released in 2017, when he was only 15 years old, Gentleman is SL’s first song and one of his most popular tracks. Dropped on Mixtape Madness’ YouTube channel, the song rapidly reached 10 million views. SL’s young age, tongue-in-cheek one-liners and conversational flow caught everyone’s attention and created a huge buzz around the South London rapper. A well-crafted video showing SL wandering around London in his iconic ski mask did the rest.
So how come that a track released back in 2017 is one of the most viewed drill songs in 2020? Ask TikTok!
Gentleman was recently picked up by the “British TikTok” community as part of the “you don’t look like you are from the UK” challenge. Guys and girls that have been told that they do not look British because of their personal style change their outfit and overall appearance to match people’s perception of what UK people should wear and look like. The result? TikTok is now flooded with guys wearing Nike tracksuits and North Face puffer jackets and girls with black leggings and fake lashes, covered in make-up and fake tan. And not gonna lie, we are here for it!
@emmytriggerzzzIf British tiktok ran this app it would be even more elite bmt🇬🇧 ##Britishcheck♬ You dont look like youre from the UK – pew pew
Thousands of TikTokers showing off their british-ness while lip synching to “I told a bitch be gentle / I’m tryna get the Willy Wonka Special / I know I ain’t no gentleman / Pull up crash, and I’m wetting ‘em” turned Gentleman into a TikTok hit. Thanks to the viral trend, the track reached 36 million streams on Spotify, getting closer and closer to the 44 million streams of Tropical.
As SL himself once admitted to The FADER, “I didn’t expect any of it, to be honest, Gentleman dropped, I didn’t really understand at the time what I could do with that buzz”. So we wonder.. will SL be able to make the best out of his newfound popularity? Or will he take a break as he did when Gentleman first dropped? Well, as he announced on IG, a new mixtape is on the way – Different Dude, out on October 23rd – and a visually-striking video for the lead single Felt Tips was released last week. This time around, it looks like SL is here to stay!