Kanye West and Jay-Z‘s Watch the Throne may have been the biggest blockbuster rap album of last year, but as 2012 kicks into play its luxurious thunder is being stolen by a viral video that’s garnered nearly 2 million plays since December 17. Filmed on the 4 Train in New York City during rush hour last month, the iPhone flick stars Harlem resident Terrane Hicks running through a ridiculously enthusiastic rendition of the song while listening to it on his iPod’s headphones and engaging in a frenzied dance. So accurately does Hicks’s performance of “N*ggas in Paris” capture the existential essence of the song that Kanye was moved to re-tweet a link to the video via his Twitter account. Still, so much was left unanswered. Hive spoke to Hicks about his performance, the future Team Cray, and what “going gorillas” really means.
Where were you when you first heard “N*ggas in Paris”?
I was headed towards Wall Street, listening to it in my headphones. When I heard it, I was like, “Oh, yes, ‘N*ggas in Paris,’ this is my song! I got to jam out to this song!” I started learning the lyrics as soon as I heard the song; the song is that great actually, that you hear it once and you’re gonna want to learn the lyrics. That’s exactly what went on in my head.
How many times did you have to rehearse it for the performance on the subway?
It took me about three takes. The first take was rough, the second take I almost got it, then the third take, man, I had it! I had it down pat, inside out!
Which part of the song is the hardest to learn?
I’ll let you know right now. [Pauses.] It’s the very beginning, because you have to really get what [Jay-Z's] saying to understand the beginning. But everything else on the song is pretty smooth.
As an expert on “N*ggas In Paris,” what does “going gorillas” really mean?
Going gorillas, man, that has many meanings! One is just going crazy, partying hard, buggin’ out, spending large amounts of money — that’s going gorillas. That’s my interpretation of it.
What sort of reaction did you get from the other people in the subway car?
I would tell you that 98% of people were laughing their asses off, and 2% just looked angry. One lady tried to give me three dollars — I had to turn her down. Someone else stopped me and told me I needed to get paid for this. Other people just couldn’t stop laughing. They were kinda in shock and awe.
What about the foot-tapping dance you do to the song. Where did that come from?
That just happened naturally, it just came out. It just happened. It’s the power of the song.
Does the dance have a name?
Yes, it’s called the “Light Leg.”
It’s a pretty vigorous dance. What sneakers do you recommend people wear while doing it?
The best ones are, I would have to say, the new Jordans that just came out.
Kanye West posted a link to your performance. How did you feel when you saw that?
Man, that made my day! Man, it made my entire year! That was the best thing that happened to me in 2011.
Jay-Z didn’t respond to the performance so you called him out in a YouTube video you made. Have you heard from him since then?
No, I haven’t heard anything from him. So, like I said, “N*ggas is everywhere!”
You say Jay-Z should cut you a check. Would you settle for $50,000?
That would be about right. What’s 50 grand to Jay?
Instead of money, would you accept a trip to Paris?
That would be fine; I’d take that too. I need to go to Paris.
Do you speak French?
No, I do not.
What’s the most cray thing you’ve ever seen on a New York City subway?
Me! But other than me, it was a guy who licked his shoe and he would not stop licking his shoe. I was like, “What the hell?” And the next day it was in the paper.
You’ve said that you might turn “N*ggas in Paris” into a parade. What would that involve?
Yeah, what’s gonna happen is on the anniversary of the viral video I’m gonna have a group of people singing “N*ggas in Paris” everywhere. This will happen annually.
Do you think Jay-Z would be interesting in sponsoring the parade?
No. I may not get sponsorship from Jay-Z, but I’ll get funding from some source.
What’s the story behind the purple jacket you always wear?
It’s cray. Purple happens to be a very cray color of mine. I love purple, I’m purple everything — everything on me is purple, my sneakers, my bag, my jacket. I love purple!
On your Twitter account you keep mentioning Team Cray. What does that involve?
Team Cray is going to be basically be a bunch of people who have the same amount of energy as me and they have their own unique way of acting cray. They don’t care what anybody thinks.
Which rappers do you want to recruit for Team Cray?
Kanye can definitely be vice president. I think I’mma go with 50 Cent, ’cause he definitely qualifies as Team Cray. And what’s his name? Snoop Dogg is definitely Team Cray certified.
Do people recognize you when you take the subway now?
Yeah, the other day someone walked up to me and said [the line], “Ball so hard motherfuckers wanna fine me.” Then he walked away.