Premiering exclusively on Fuse, the clip shows the Bay Area duo (comprised of Camo and Jay B) fooling around on huge trucks and hanging out with a crowd of teens on a football field. While 99 Percent have been making twerk-worthy dance tunes for years, their "Cake" collaboration finally propels them into the mainstream pop world. The longtime friends, who are prepping the release of their sophomore EP this spring, opened up to Fuse about their journey and where their musical road will lead them.
"It’s crazy because we had the song for about a year and a half before we even released it," Camo tells us about making "Cake." "We were saying in the studio that it would be perfect to get Flo Rida on it. The label made it happen." Jay B continues, "The producers didn’t believe us, that we were gonna get him on the song. And we didn’t meet him until the video shoot and he was super cool. We recorded separately and when we heard his verse we called everybody we knew."
The guys were inspired by their California hometown to kickstart their music career, as almost everyone around them were rappers. Yet things didn't start out so smoothly. "[We met] in middle school. I didn’t really like him that much, to be honest," Camo jokes. "We weren’t friends or anything. He had broke my phone and then I was going to make him pay for it out of his lunch money." Jay B quickly perks up, "That’s his side of the story. But we ended up letting it go and became friends after that." That little rift blossomed into a friendship and later recording songs together.
99 Percent look up to artists like Pharrell and Missy Elliott, who have inspired them to create out-of-the-box visuals. Their knack for kooky ideas gave way to viral videos like 2014's “Yike In It,” “Shabooyah” and “iTwerk," which introduced the duo to the world and raked up a total of over 11 million views. "Well we kind of put it into the universe before we even created the songs. That’s what we were striving for," Camo explains when asked if they anticipated that positive reaction. "With 'Yike In It,' our goal was to have a million views and it’s crazy because it happened in the first six weeks."
Once they saw their friend Sage the Gemini go viral with 2014's "Red Nose," they knew they could accomplish the same feat. "We always looked at him as someone who actually did it independently and took off early," Jay B says about Sage, who they plan to collaborate with soon. He then recalls the big "Yike In It" moment:
"After I graduated high school, my mom was like 'Okay you gotta get a job, and do this and that.' So I started working at a shoe store with Sage the Gemini. So after I got the job, we made a song go viral. Then my mom said, 'Alright, forget the job. I’ll do whatever I gotta do, just focus on the music.' So after people see you have some success going for you then they’re all for it.
They also give credit to a certain pop star for the unexpected success. "Miley Cyrus helped the song out a lot. Not her personally, but her twerking made the world want to twerk. So they were all looking for songs to twerk too!" Jay B exclaims.
While 99 Percent is seen doing off-the-wall things in videos, the guys tell us they're actually homebodies. "We like to go thrift shopping a lot. For a second we were painting shoes. We would buy old shoes and fix them up. But crazy stuff? We’re not super wild like that," Jay B explains.
"I think our personalities just in general is funny, so we want to show that. I’m so tired of seeing the same videos over and over," Camo echoes. "A lot of them are starting to look alike, so we want to give people something to remember. You can have a million dollar video. But if it’s just like every other video it’s not gonna stick out." The proof is in their work, as their "Coco" parody is their most-viewed video (it has almost 8 million views as of press time) that only cost them $50 to make.
But while music videos can be exciting to watch in the moment, it can be difficult to give them longevity. When we ask how the duo plans to stray away from the "popcorn artist" stereotype, Jay B states,
"As long as you’re not playing it safe all the time, I feel like you’ll be remembered. But it drives the anticipation for the viewer to want to see what they do next. Like Tyler the Creator. He doesn’t have super hit songs or radio singles. But you know if he drops a video, it’s gonna be crazy. If he does an interview, he’s gonna say something super wild. So I think it’s stuff like that keeps the artist around longer."
As for the constant dance trends they show off in videos? Jay B thinks the phase is never going to die out. "You gotta think about the Macarena, the Electric Slide and the Wobble. Those were dance movements and that’s just what the Nae Nae is," he tells us. "Our weddings are gonna start having Nae Nae sections. Especially twerking, that’s never going anywhere. Thank god!"
As of late, the dance community has become even larger and created a special bond. "I feel like it now became more of an activity for people to do. In high schools at lunchtime, there will be a circle of kids just dancing. It’s like B-boys back in the day where they showed off their dance moves," Jay B explains. "The dance movement is just gonna keep growing. We’ve even seen a difference in the Bay Area alone, where we see people doing dance moves we thought were only in Atlanta. The power of the internet is changing that."
It's important for the duo to keep their teen-based audience's dance spirits alive while also maintaining a non-explicit vibe, as many of them attend their shows with their parents. "We definitely keep the music more clean because we know what our audience is. We don’t want them to be out there cursing out all our words," Camo says.
So is 99 Percent planning to drop an album soon? Not quite, since they want to gain more notoriety. "Where we get to the point where we can tour independently and throw our own headlining tour, that’s when it’ll be time to drop and album," Jay B states. "Because if you can’t bring out people across the nation, then you’re most likely not gonna be able to sell an album like you should."
Along with plans to invest in real estate and begin their own record label (and taking a much-needed vacation in the Bahamas this summer), the duo wants to continue writing for other artists and collaborating with big names. "We definitely want to do something with Pitbull and stay in the dance realm for a minute. But there’s not telling where we’re gonna go," Jay B tells us. "Especially when we start getting some vocal lessons. We might be singing some R&B on that joint!"
Next, watch Flo Rida give us "Yum Bum" work out tips in this throwback Fuse interview: