Baauer is the 24-year-old trap-rave producer whose future-crunk behemoth “Harlem Shake” soundtracked Norwegian army drills, morning-show derp squads, school suspensions, an FAA investigation, a fiery fall, and a mass stabbing among perhaps a zillion other flash-mob dancing demonstrations, thanks to a craze perhaps orchestrated by corporations. But despite debuting at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after chart rules changed to incorporate YouTube streams, the Brooklyn-based DJ insists that his best-known smash hasn't directly earned him money. How could that be?
If you remember, "Harlem Shake" sampled vocals from both reggaetón artist Hector Delgado and Philly rapper Jayson Musson, formerly of Plastic Little. Baauer, whose bills get sent to the name Harry Rodrigues, hadn't cleared their contributions because he'd made the song in his Grand Street apartment, never imagining that a Dutch Parkinson's Association would use the track to make jokes about its disease. But once the Mad Decent imprint single exploded and Delgado and Musson heard about their involvement, they wanted compensation, with the former complaining to the New York Times, “It’s almost like they came on my land and built a house.”
Pitchfork: Have you made a lot of money from it?
B: I still don’t know. I haven’t seen any money from it.
Pitchfork: Why is that?
B: I’m meeting with my lawyer tomorrow for lunch, so I’m gonna find that out. I think it’s mostly because of all the legal shit. I didn’t clear the samples because I was in my fucking bedroom on Grand Street. 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 fucking pickle. Legal letters and shit. Ugh. Lawyers. So exposure-wise it was fantastic, but everything else...
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