Born and raised in Brooklyn, iMarkKeyz, whose real name is Brandon Davidson, is a local DJ and producer well-known for remixing videos and memes. Once he went to work on Cardi’s unmistakably hilarious world view (viewed more than 25 million times as of this writing), it was a sure winner within just a couple hours of being uploaded to iTunes, where it climbed to No. 11.
Of course, it helped that Cardi gave the remix a cosign by posting it to her 61 million Instagram followers, which was enough to get the song to chart. She also joked about hitting up iMarkkeyz and her label Atlantic to receive her portion of the royalties.
A week later, Cardi and iMarkkeyz would reveal plans to donate any royalties earned to aid in the battle against coronavirus. “That’s the goal,” says iMarkkeyz, who spoke to Variety about the life-changing moment.
How did you get your start deejaying?
I’ve been into music since I was a kid. What inspired me was the movie “Juice” — there’s a character named DJ Q who was played by Omar Epps, he made me want to be a DJ. I’ve been doing remixes on the internet since 2013. My first viral hit was a song called “Rounds” with Carl Garrett. That was big on Vine. … I was just putting out art.
Can you take us back to when you first had the idea to sample Cardi B’s coronavirus rank?
I remix a lot of things — it can be a regular song or a video I see online, I’ll just make a song out of it. I’m known for making remixes off people’s Instagram or videos surfacing online. This particular video, people were tagging me and pretty much begging me to do a remix. [Laughs]
How do you decide on beats or melodies?
The line where she said Coronavirus, it was a hype type of feeling. In my mind, I wanted a crunk beat to it. Everything doesn’t come out the way I plan it until it’s done, and I don’t really know if it’ll hit or not, but all I do is make stuff. I don’t crave a hit..
Still, did you think this one was going to pop off like it did?
Not like how it is now! [Laughs] I knew it was going to be a hit to my followers, but I didn’t know it would reach international level.
What was your reaction when the song charts on iTunes?
I was flabbergasted on everything. I didn’t expect it. Because the first place I put it on was my website. The only reason why my team and I had put it on iTunes was to save the song from being uploaded by somebody else. It happened to me twice.
Any songs that I’ve remixed where people want me to put on iTunes, I’d reach out to the person I remixed it from. The first song I had, “It’s Above Me Now,” it went viral last year. I reached out to the guy who’s in the video and we had an agreement. But before I got to put it on iTunes, somebody else uploaded it. I had to reach out to the site where they distributed the song and say, “Look, that’s my song. I have the copyright documents that you need.” With this particular song, I knew someone was going to do the same thing just based off experience. It’ll be either me or someone else, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to get that money.
She tagged you twice. How many followers did you gain?
About 100,000 on Instagram. It’s been a week now. I didn’t start seeing crazy followers until Monday.
Was there contact with Cardi and her team?
Yes, me and Cardi sorted everything out. She had reached out to me, her team and the label laid it down the line. … We’re in the works of getting things situated financially as far as where proceeds are going. It’s confidential at the moment, but there’s a lot of great things to come with this.