If you’re a fan of trying to keep up with what’s hot on social media right now, odds are you know about TikTok. The video-creation app has been all the rage for the past few months, and during quarantine, dance and comedy videos have been keeping many people busy and entertained.
One of the most popular TikTok challenges is the #DontRushChallenge, which has given people a reason to look good while cooped up in the house. With the simple shake of a makeup brush or swipe of a hair comb (and some editing magic), those participating in the video appear to go from drab to fab instantaneously. After they’ve glowed up, those in the video “toss” their beauty tools to a friend, who also puts in that work to look and feel their best for the camera, creating a chain of fun and ferocity. The challenge is set to the Afrobeat-inspired rap song of the same name, performed by UK rap sensations Young T and Bugsey.
The 23-year-old Nottingham, England, natives, who linked up around the age of 15, are signed to Black Butter Records across the pond and are being pushed by Epic Records. With cosigns from grime music sensation Stormzy and music outlets touting them as the UK’s “next biggest hip-hop act,” the viral challenge was just another notch in the duo’s belt on their way to the top.
“We’re not competing against anybody, we’re competing against ourselves, literally outdoing our last song,” Young T (born Rashard Tucker) tells The Root over the phone. “As long as our songs are great and our songs are banging, that’s all we’ve got to keep on doing…[Expectations] don’t add any more pressure or give us any more nerves.”
When it comes to collaboration, Bugsey (born Doyin Julius) explains that the balance of the rappers’ personalities and creative approaches allows for a seamless partnership.
“When two people are very much alike, they either get along amazingly, or they don’t get along at all. But T and I get along well, and our differences make the bond even stronger,” he explains. “I think we both play an equal role when we make music; we don’t have a set structure—there’s sessions where I’m driving the focus on the hook, and some days it’s T...Plus, T can produce, so it’s like an extra element when we’re making something. He can hear stuff in the beat, he can hear stuff I might be missing or that need to be adjusted.”
“Don’t Rush” features the artist Headie One, and can be found on Young T and Bugsey’s debut album Plead The Fifth, which dropped in March. The song, produced by GRADES (who is responsible for tracks like “Inhale Exhale” and “Bad Blood” by Nao to name a few), implements Afrobeat stylings and subtle instrumentals that make a big impact. Throughout the track, the rappers speak in Pidgin, an English-based language spoken in Nigeria, which adds another layer of personalization to the catchy tune. T is Jamaican and Bugsey is Nigerian, so they aim to add their heritages into their work.
The twosome recalls that the recording session initially felt like “just another day,” but they could tell something was different about this particular song when the pieces started coming together.
“GRADES already had a skeleton of the beat already,” Bugsey says of the recording session, which took place in mid-2019. “When he played it, we just knew ‘All right cool, this one’s ours...’ Once we finished the session, we knew we definitely made a good song here. ‘School Trip’ [from Plead The Fifth] was produced [by GRADES] in the same session, so that was very productive.”
The #DontRushChallenge was started on Twitter by 20-year-old Toluwalase Asolo, a student from the University of Hull in England, who sent out the video and tagged the musicians. The original clip has been viewed over 2 million times, and big names such as Christina Milian, Skai Jackson, Marsai Martin, beauty influencer Jackie Aina and more have participated in the challenge with their friends. Our community is not the only one getting in on the fun: Native American girls in powwow regalia, drag queens and cosplayers of all races have made their own versions of the video, showing just how far-reaching the challenge has become.
“It’s nice to see that we’ve given people sort of something for them to take their mind off [of the current world issues],” Bugsey says. “We’ve seen doctors and nurses and all key workers doing the challenge as well. I know that no one is coming out [of] the house, no one is getting ready [to go out], but we still gave people something for them to feel special.”
The song itself is also doing numbers. According to a report from Rolling Stone, in March when the challenge took off, “Don’t Rush” logged in “over 300,000 [streams] in one week and then over a million a week later,” per the analytics company Alpha Data. This is compared to 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. streams of the song in January and February. The song itself peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Rap Digital Song Sales chart, No. 20 on the Official U.K. Singles chart and at No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Young T and Bugsey’s Plead The Fifth implements Afrobeats and Afroswing sounds, and also peppers in elements of R&B and hip-hop with melodies as well as trap-heavy beats. The song “Dreadlocks” from the project features an experimental pop/trap sound, while “Strike a Pose” utilizes a more African sound. Young T explains that the UK rap scene features an assortment of sounds from trap to grime to Afrobeats, and their music stands out because of how naturally the rhythms and energy flow from them due to their heritages.
“The majority of people that make the music in [the UK], it’s still first-, second-generation people from Africa and [Caribbean countries] first,” he says. “It’s a natural instinct for us to do that type of music, and I feel that we actually make the type of music which has evolved in the game. We fit in [with the current scene] but still, we’re being ourselves.”
Mainstream musical acts such as Drake, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and more have implemented the sounds of the Caribbean and Africa in their tracks such as “One Dance,” “Shape Of You” and “I Don’t Care.” Bugsey says that while it’s wonderful to hear the influence of black music and black people among today’s most popular artists, it’s even more important to highlight the artists who hail from these countries, as well as the history, “sounds, amenities and patterns” coming from these areas. We’re started to see more of these celebrations, with Billboard Magazine’s celebration of music and artists from Africa, as well as the Beenie Man and Bounty Killer Verzuz battle weeks ago.
“We now finally get artists that are highlighting the origin of the music, and all these sounds and all these dances are popping off and [are going] all around the world, I think that’s definitely a good thing,” he says. “I’m proud to say that we are the artists who are doing that as well. It’s our music, and it’s our heritage, and you can’t hide from it, you gotta embrace it and just let the flavor and your sauce out, it’s part of you.”
“I think there’s gonna be way more artists in the picture who implement where they’re from,” he continues. “It might not just be Africa, it could be more Latin countries, it could be somewhere else in the UK...there’s so many heritages that actually do amazing music, that you can hear in popular music, in what’s ‘selling,’ in what’s in the Top 10. As newer artists emerge, you’re going to see more and more of them being pushed and being highlighted in the actual grand scale of [music], and sent to the masses.”
Where do Young T and Bugsey go from here? They’re planning on touring when the dust from COVID-19 settles and the music industry is back on some sort of mend, as their initial tour around the U.S. and UK was postponed. They’re also planning on pushing more tracks from their album in order to keep the momentum going. At this point, however, they’re just trusting the process, and are thankful for the blessings that have come their way with the #DontRushChallenge.
“I can start music today and be gone for five years, and somebody starts music tomorrow and they blow and they have a quick start. But that’s their journey, and my journey is different,” Young T explains. “I have to trust the process and have some belief that I’m going to get to my place. Always believe in yourself and believe in that ‘thing’ you do.”