7.12.2017

Exclusive: Ayo & Teo Talk ‘Rolex,’ Justin Bieber, & Going Viral

By now, fans have heard Ayo & Teo’s top 40 single “Rolex,” with its hypnotic chorus and dance-ready beat. But before the success of their viral hit, the duo of brothers simply wanted a Rolex with a dab of ranch.

During a recent visit to Rap-Up HQ, Ayo explained how the group’s hit song came to be, following an ill-fated trip to the jewelry store. “I sent a picture [of the Rolex] to my manager,” said the social media influencer. “He never responds that fast. He responded quick like, ‘Get out that store right now.’ I’m like, ‘Come on.'”

Disappointed, the duo went back to their hotel room and got to work on a track that would catapult them to their greatest success yet. “We had the T-Pain Auto-Tune app on our phones,” he added. “We were fooling around on that, just rapping to instrumentals. [Teo] went to the bathroom. I’m like, ‘Why are you in the bathroom?’ I guess it was like a studio, a play studio. He came out with the hook, but it wasn’t the full hook. He only had some of it. We went to the studio and knocked it out that night It only took about an hour-and-a-half.”

The track took off like wildfire, becoming a major sensation on social media, where global stars like Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and Hailey Baldwin danced along to their infectious single. “Justin Bieber was the biggest of them all,” said Ayo. “In Dubai, [he did a] three-second video, just vibing to the song. It was crazy.”

Although this was a career high for the duo, it wasn’t the first time they experienced love on social media. In fact, their creative and energetic dance moves earned them massive followings before “Rolex.” Musicians, looking to capitalize on this, would pay them to dance to their records online.

I just want a Rollie, Rollie, Rollie @ogleloo @shmateo_ #RapUpHQ #RolexChallenge

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At the time, Ayo was working at Big Lots and doing construction jobs on the side, where he got paid “under the table.” Meanwhile, Teo was in school, getting in trouble despite, or as he puts it, because of, his huge social media following. “When I hit like 200K [followers] on Instagram, that’s when bad stuff started happening,” he explained. “My teachers were messing with me for no reason. People would ask for pictures. I’d be like, ‘No, I’m in school.’ They started crying. That happened once.”

On top of that, their father didn’t understand the millennial craze. “Our dad didn’t really understand the power of social media,” Ayo added. “If it wasn’t for me [to say], ‘Dad, this is something serious. We’re getting paid from rappers to dance to their songs and post it on Instagram and YouTube. We’re making money. Off dancing, we’re making a good $8,000 to $10,000 a month from YouTube and Instagram videos.’ It was like a hustle.”