To understand the mechanics of hip-hop in 2019, one could start by looking at Calboy‘s “Envy Me.” It is currently one of the most successful rap records in the country, though I’m still a little unsure whether to refer to Calboy as CalBoy, 147 Calboy or 147Calboy. Despite any potential confusion, “Envy Me” is number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100, has two different entries on the SoundCloud Top 50, has racked up 25 million views on YouTube since August and been a regular on Shazam charts in major metropolitan cities through the summer. It, of course, also inspired a viral social media challenge.
Eerie, bright and hyper-violent, the song revels in the dichotomy of Calboy’s delivery and is one of the reasons it’s an off-kilter hit. “I was fighting some demons, in the field, bitch, I’m deep in/I was raised in the deep end, I know niggas be sinking,” the Chicago rapper sings with glee.
“I was getting extremely high, bro, at one point in time. I cut off a lot of stuff I usually do and up here wasn’t all the way screwed in,” he told Genius about the lyric. “So, that’s where that line come from. I really had some shit going on outside that I didn’t really have no business being into. I shouldn’t have been there or in that mix, and I was in that mix and it kind of haunted me for a long time.”
Since the song’s rise, it’s like the powers-that-be (he’s rumored to be signed to RCA; label reps were unavailable to comment) want to corral its momentum into something more manageable. It’s unclear if the song was re-uploaded to major streaming services on December 13, but Google Play lists its original release date as September 13. If there is a concerted push to maximize the song’s potential, it appears to be working. “Envy Me” was among the most added records on mainstream R&B and hip-hop radio according to Nielsen BDS — 16 new radio stations picked it up the week ending January 26. In early January, it was added to Spotify’s Rap Caviar and its netted over 15 million plays in a month. There’s a lot to envy.