A Brief History of Hip-Hop’s Connection to ‘Fortnite’
Unless you've been living inside the hollow Earth for the past year or so, you've undoubtedly heard of the popular online game Fortnite. Since it entered the zeitgeist in 2017, the multiplayer survival game (more specifically its Battle Royale edition) has become the most talked about game since the Pokemon Go craze a few years back. In that time, it has quickly elevated itself to cultural phenomenon status with the help of plugs from some of your favorite hip-hop artists.
The premise is pretty simple: Up to 100 customizable players at a time descend upon an ever-shrinking virtual world to scavenge for weapons and other assets, kill opponents and ultimately be the last man or woman standing.
Drake and Travis Scott gave the game an early boost when they hopped online in April 2018 and played with famed gamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. The session broke the Twitch record for most concurrent viewers on a single stream with more than 600,000 onlookers.
Others have claimed to have mastered the co-op—Trippie Redd has labeled himself the “Fortnite God.” And artists' fandom has extended into music. 03 Greedo has a song called “Fortnite” as well as frequent players Murda Beatz, Yung Bans, Lil Yachty and Ski Mask The Slump God.
Another hip-hop tie to the ever-evolving game is the ability to allow character emotes to do dance moves, some of which have been made famous in the hip-hop community, most notably BlocBoy JB’s “Shoot” dance. This has caused issues with rappers like Chance The Rapper and JB himself, who believe artists should be compensated in some way.
Time will tell if the game—currently in its sixth season—has staying power. But for now, it's definitely lit. And hip-hop has been along for the ride. So XXL compiled a a brief history of rap's connection to Fortnite.
It didn't take long after Fortnite's September 2017 launch for Battle Royale to obtain a cult following. In 2018, things started reaching a fever pitch with more and more people catching on (rappers included) and publicly announcing their affection. In March, Trippie Redd crowned himself "Fortnite God" after racking up a reported 10 wins in one night.
An epic celebrity showdown took place in March 2018 when Drake, Travis Scott, famed gamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Pittsburgh Steelers star JuJu Smith-Schuster battled it out on Fortnite.
The live session drew in thousands of viewers, eventually reaching 607,000 and breaking the Twitch record for most concurrent viewers on a single stream.
Not everyone in hip-hop is a big fan of Fortnite. Responding to a Drake and Josh spoof of the game posted on Twitter, Post Malone wrote, "I hate Fortnite but this is awesome."
Following the record-breaking session, Drake hopped back online with Ninja for another highly-watched game. During the match, Drizzy offers Ninja $5,000 if he can win the match. Bag secured.
Drake's cosigns helped pique interest in Fortnite and in April he made the producers, Epic Games, an offer to promote the game via song. But there was a catch. He wanted his own custom "Hotline Bling" emote in exchange.
"It has to happen, it's just got to be the right way," Drake tells Ninja in a recording of their Twitch session. "Someone's going to do it. Someone's going to pull it off. I say when Epic gives me the emote—when Epic gives me the 'Hotline Bling' emote—I'll do it. Until then, I'm on strike."
Social media personality Eian Beron put out a parody of Drake's "God's Plan" with a Fortnite twist. The hilarious spoof raked in more than 7 million views on YouTube.
03 Greedo caught the wave with a track called "Fortnite," on which he name-drops the famous game.
"Just last week I was mentioned in the Forbes bitch/Young street nigga tryna make another fortune," he raps. "With my daughter, playin' Fortnite, PS4 bitch/Treat the projects like a motherfuckin' fortress, ayy."
He later released a visual for the track where he plays real-life Fortnite.
The sign-in stage on 'Fortnite' features avatar emotes, some of which perform dance moves. In May, people start pointing out the emote labeled "Hype" was cranking BlocBoy JB's viral "Shoot" dance.
Ugly God is a frequent-Fortnite player. Over the summer, he randomly tried to get a Battle Royale session in with Beyoncé, inviting the singer play with the since-deleted tweet, "Aye hop on fortnite Beyonce." We're pretty sure Mrs. Carter didn't hop on the sticks.
Continuing the song homages, Murda Beatz, Ski Mask The Slump God, Lil Yachty and Yung Bans dropped their own "Fortnite" single.
"I got the SCAR (SCAR, yup)/Y'all niggas don't want war (pew, water!)," Bans raps on the chorus, referring to the Fortnite firearm. "Y'all niggas don't want war (war, war)/What you came here for? (war, yeah)/I'm in-I'm in Tilted Towers (ooh, Tilted Towers)/Look like Austin Powers (huh)."
Chance The Rapper raged against the machine and called out Fortnite creators for using rappers' dances without compensation.
"Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them," he tweeted. "Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them."
BlocBoy JB vented about not getting his just due from Fortnite despite the game's use of his signature dance move.
"EveryTime Somebody Does My Dance Dey Give Credit To @FortniteGame But Dey Ain’t Create Nothing But Da Game," he posts on Twitter. "So Basically Dey Takin Money And Credit For My Shit Dats Crazy."