Some artists dream of hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. With "Harlem Shake" producer Baauer, it had the opposite effect. In a rare interview with Pitchfork, the West Philly native opened up about life once oh-so-viral track topped the singles chart for five weeks, changing chart history while doing so.
"When it was at its peak, I was just watching it happen, trying to be smart," the reclusive DJ said of trying to avoid overexposure. "Then people started to get pissed off at it. Huge backlash! It was this mix of 'Wow this is great,' but also 'This is f-cking awful.' I got kinda depressed."
The "Higher" producer added that he made sure not to add fuel to the "Harlem Shake" machine, opting out of big promo slots. "People started to call my phone saying, "We'd like to have Baauer on Good Morning America to do the 'Harlem Shake.' I'm like, 'f-ck no!' It felt invasive."
Today, Baauer hasn't seen a cent of the money made from 1.7 million copies of "Harlem Shake" sold due to uncleared samples from rapper Jayson Musson and reggaeton artist Hector Delgado used in the song.
"I didn't clear the samples because I was in my f-cking bedroom," the DJ explained. "I wasn't going to think to call up [Delgado], I didn't even know who it was who did that [sample]; I knew the Jayson Musson [sample]. So, I found myself in that f-cking pickle. Legal letters and sh-t. Exposure-wise it was fantastic, but everything else..."
Poor Baauer. As they say, there's a dark side to fame.