ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: DEREK KING
You may have heard his music at the club, seen him in music videos with hip-hop legends, or watched a video of Billie Eilish dancing with a bag of bagels to his music. As a Bay Area native, Derek King combines elements of old school Bay Area hip-hop with modern R&B to create some of his top hits, including “Tetris” released in 2019.
Inspired by the hustle culture of the community he grew up in, Derek used various platforms to get his name out there. His first major following came from the social media app Vine, where he created daily content that included skits and comedy videos. Slowly, he began to implement his own music in the background of his videos, and eventually dove head first into the music game.
Derek’s music started getting recognition back in 2014 with the release of his first EP, which included features from many other established Bay Area artists like Sage the Gemini, P-Lo, duo Kalin and Myles, and IamSu. After the success of his collaboration with Kalin and Myles, Derek joined the duo for their Dedication Tour as the opening act.
After taking a short break, Derek jumped back into the game in 2017 by releasing a series of singles, as well as an EP, and found success with his single “Don’t Do That.” He stayed consistent with his music and social media, which led to his next big break in 2019.
After finalizing the song with his producer, Derek posted a clip onto his Instagram of him dancing with “Tetris” playing in the background. The video featured him doing a Bay Area native dance move called “yiking” that typically consists of two dancers. However, Derek decided to do the dance with a pillow in his room and called it the #TetrisChallenge. The video got a positive response and started to gain virality. The challenge led to hundreds of videos of people performing the dance with other household items, and was eventually picked up by world-famous pop singer Billie Eilish, who did the dance with a bag of bagels.
The success of the challenge translated to the success of the song. “Tetris” was picked up by major radio music cycles, was included in club and party mixes around the country, and currently has almost 15 million streams on Spotify. Following the success of this single, Derek has released his debut album in May of 2020 with 11 new tracks, one of them featuring Bay Area legend E-40. With increasing traction to his music and the support from his record label EMPIRE, it looks like this is just the beginning for Derek King’s success.
Written by: Ash Guha