By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Silento went viral at the age of 16 with his single “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” which had everyone in the world giggin’ and doing the signature dance. The official music video currently hails over 1.6 BILLION views on Youtube alone.
However, being in high school when all the attention and fame arrived was definitely something he wasn’t ready for himself. Since then, the Atlanta native has taken a break from the music industry and focused on his well-being.
This includes coming forth about his struggle with depression, even hopping at The Doctors to share his story to audiences on national television.
Last year, he followed up the hit single with a part 2, aptly titled “Watch Me Part 2.” AllHipHop caught up with Silento to discuss his success, his new music and the importance of mental health.
AllHipHop: Talk about your reaction when Lil Pump said he was the youngest to ever do it.
Silento: I laughed a little bit because Justin Bieber won the award we were both nominated for at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. He was the first person that came to my mind after myself. Justin Bieber dropped “Baby,” a classic that was 12x certified Platinum when he was 16….
AllHipHop: What makes “Watch Me (Nae Nae)” better than “Gucci Gang”?
Silento: People will be dancing and smiling all around the world for the next 30 years whenever my song gets played. Life’s about happiness and legacy. “Gucci Gang” is an amazing song though, props to Pump for that sound.
AllHipHop: What was it like having so much fame in high school?
Silento: After “Watch Me (Nae Nae)” blew up, the kids who were always disrespectful to me in school began to show respect and say “what up” to me when I would see them in the halls. Fame in high school was a blessing since the music kept me focused on working on my craft as an artist — which is what makes me happy. It was a distraction to any negative energy that’d come my way.
AllHipHop: What kind of lessons did you learn early on?
Silento: I learned that if you put in the work, believe in yourself, and ignore the noise/pressure to stop doing what you’re and keep putting in the work — the respect, success, and happiness will come. I always kept that positive mindset and smiled to everyone at school in the hallways, still said hi to those who doubted me because there’s no reason for any hate out there. I want everyone to win and be happy. However at the same time, the fame at such a young age taught me not to trust anyone. Follow through with my word and live my life the best way I’d want to create myself. Need to keep going through those hurdles and do what you want to do because at the end of the day, you’re in control.
AllHipHop: How has opening up about your depression benefited your life/career?
Silento: Finally opening up about my experience with depression to the public has helped me immensely. It’s given me the mental clarity to understand that I’m suffering from a disorder. By working on myself with the help of medical professionals, there’s in fact a pathway to break through. Ron Artest thanked his psychologist after he won the NBA Championship to the world. It’s a serious issue. If people who have an influence on others don’t talk about — you can’t change the world and make those suffering with the same issues get better.
AllHipHop: Were you nervous to go on The Doctors on national television?
Silento: Not at all. I was so happy to finally speak my truth to an audience who could only benefit from my story. I felt extremely welcomed with my time on the show. Everyone on the show’s panel were so friendly to me and seemed to take a genuine interest in my story, my struggles, and my path to mental prosperity.
AllHipHop: What’s one thing you want fans to get from your story?
Silento: That everyone in some form or another is going through their own struggles. It’s about keeping your head up through your times in the trenches because in the end you will come out the other end not only victorious, but stronger because of it. Even individuals who reach the highest of highs in fame and society can be mentally going through the lowest of lows. It’s okay to reach out for help. No one has to go through it alone. At the end of the day, we’re all so young and people reach their success or goals and happiness when they’re 50, 60, 70.
I’m only 21 and so blessed to have achieved the life and success I’ve had so far, but it keeps me going because it's about legacy. I want to prove the doubters wrong. Eventually we all die in life so it’s not about what’s in my bank account, it’s about how many people are going to show up to my funeral. I have no interest in making all the money in the world. I have an interest in how many people will be showing up at my funeral. I have an interest in people listening to my music and making them happy. Legacy.
AllHipHop: How does “Nae Nae Pt. 2” compare to Pt. 1?
Silento: Similar to the hot dances on part one, part two also has new dance moves with a more boppy beat. Part two also incorporates some dances from other musicians I greatly respect. The fans wanted more dance songs with moves to follow, so I gave them one. They’re loving it.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from you music-wise?
Silento: While “Whip (Nae Nae)” was my beginning, a song that was a major hit, it only allowed the audience to associate myself as the artist who had a #1 hit that people will forever be dancing too. However, being so young and not being knowledgeable about the industry with fame hitting so quick, I’ve not had the opportunity to put out different types of music, songs, genres. Really showcase my craft as an artist of what I’m able to do. I’m able to do that now. I’m blessed to have artists in the industry and producers from all around the world (some of which arguably people can say they’re the best in this game) to have convos with me and entertain collaborations. Also, SilentoMob is going to be the wave. I love to dance, I love to sing, I love to produce, I love to rap, I love the artistry. Currently, I’m redefining my craft. I hope whoever reads this will watch me… not whip — but literally, watch me.