Harry Rodrigues, better known by his DJ and producer name Baauer, quickly rose to success in 2013 by accident. His infamous “Harlem Shake” track, which started to circulate after he sent it out to contacts in the industry at the very beginning of his career, became the soundtrack to a viral sensation of YouTube. While Baauer was stoked on the recognition to begin with, the track quickly transformed into an inescapable nuisance as army men in Norway and Jimmy Fallon scrambled to make their own videos. As is the case with any viral sensation, there was plenty of backlash about “Harlem Shake” as the public started to become sick of it, which severely bummed Baauer out about the future of his career. Ultimately, the “Harlem Shake” hooplah provided Baauer with the inspiration to build a career that reflected his true musical style, not one the internet created for him. On March 18, Baauer will release his official debut LP Aa, and it should be well worth the wait.
In the wake of the “Harlem Shake,” there was immense pressure for Baauer to reinvent himself outside of the viral hit he was inextricably tied to but not invested in. Baauer’s brand of production fuses elements of rap and trap with heavy electronic soundscapes for finished beats that are often grim and aggressive, much like TNGHT or Flosstradamus. Due to Baauer’s penchant for merging distinct styles of music, an important part of his career post-“Harlem Shake” has been securing the right collaborators to give his songs both the aggressive energy of a rap track and the urgency to dance of an electronic banger. In 2013, Baauer collaborated with hip-hop record producer Just Blaze and Jay Z on “Higher,” which proved his ability to make formidable tracks through smart collaborations.
At the end of 2014, Baauer released a five-track EP ß, which confirmed that Baauer’s sinister beats flourish just as seamlessly under Aluna Francis’ (of AlunaGeorge) crystalline vocals as they do under the playful raps of Rae Sremmurd. While a track like “Floreana” showcases a more playful and colorful side of Baauer’s production, the pummeling bass deluges of “Swoopin” are monstrous and fearsome, as if the drop were an urgent call to run and take cover. It’s moments like “Swoopin” that remind us of Baauer’s impeccable ability to unleash everything he’s got.
Baauer shared a beautiful video for a new single “GoGo!” in late 2015, which features a couple doing various things in their car as it free falls through the sky, but it wasn’t until early this year that he officially announced a full length debut LP called Aa. At the same time that he announced the upcoming LP, he also shared an exciting list of features on the album including Pusha T, Future, M.I.A., Novelist, and more. Also notable was the absence of “Harlem Shake” from the track list, a track that indisputably influenced his career but has definitely not dictated it. So far, Baauer has shared a few tracks from the upcoming album, including “GoGo!,” “Day Ones,” which features grime MC Novelist and Leikeli47, and “Kung Fu,” a club banger about whipping drugs with Future and Pusha T. Baauer is even getting mainstream publicity for the upcoming project — he premiered “Day Ones” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert with a live performance from him and Leikeli47 the same day he announced the album.
When an artist quickly rises to fame in the viral way that Baauer did, a lot rests on future projects. Take Carly Rae Jepsen, for example — the staggering success of “Call Me Maybe” shrouded her creative spark and inspired a steadfast mission to rebrand with her follow-up album E•MO•TION, which she accomplished completely. Although “Harlem Shake” now qualifies as the ghost of internets’ past, it’s still how most people know Baauer’s name. He shouldn’t have a problem making a new name for himself with the upcoming debut, though — based on what he’s shared so far, it looks like he’s got this one in the bag.