What to know about Atlanta rapper Silentó

Atlanta rapper Silento (aka Ricky Lamar Hawk), shown in 2015 at age 17, has more than 47 million views of his song "Watch Me (Whip/ Nae Nae) on YouTube. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC
Atlanta rapper Silento (aka Ricky Lamar Hawk), shown in 2015 at age 17, has more than 47 million views of his song "Watch Me (Whip/ Nae Nae) on YouTube. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

The 23-year-old behind the hit “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” has been charged with murder

Atlanta rapper Silentó – born Ricky Lamar Hawk – was arrested in DeKalb County Feb. 1 and charged with murder in the death of his cousin, Frederick Rooks.

The 23-year-old artist experienced a breakout year in 2015 with his worldwide hit – and dance - “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).”

Here is some background about Silentó's music career.

-- In 2015, while a junior at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Silentó became a viral star with “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” a catchy tune that fostered a complementary dance craze. The song charted everywhere from Canada to Australia and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In an interview that year with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the fledgling rapper had a message for those who doubted his ability to succeed.

“Now people are trying to talk to me, but I don’t really want to talk now. Even when I was right here, I used to have to pay to perform at places, like skating rinks and teen parties. I had to pay them to perform. And I find it interesting because now they call me up and want me to come for free and I’m not coming. They need to pay me, now.”

Three questions with Silento, the 17-year-old rapper and creator of the hit song "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)"

-- Between 2015 and 2017, Silentó was featured on several tracks from artists including Dawin (“Dessert”), “Girl in the Mirror” (Sophia Grace) and “Slide” (ELS).

In August 2018, Silentó released his full-length debut, “Fresh Outta High School,” a 12-song collection available on streaming platforms. He worked with Atlanta-based producer J’Rell The Inkwell and drew comparisons to Rae Sremmurd and Chance the Rapper with his lyrics, while blending hip-hop with pop and electronica as the musical backbone. In November 2018, he dropped “Fresh Outta High School Part 2.”

-- Silentó said in the 2015 AJC interview that he chose his moniker because he believes in “less talk and more action.” He cited musical influences ranging from Chris Brown to The Dream to Usher to The Temptations and said the music he heard around the house growing up shaped his direction.

“You’re gonna hear all of those songs because of who your parents are and what we go through,” he said. “My momma used to be sitting in the living room and listening to Marvin Gaye and The Temptations. I grew up listening to all of those songs.”

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