Four or five times a week these days, some old friend will contact Louis Theroux and tell him, “My daughter walks around the house humming your raps” or “My wife worked out to your raps in a Pilates class.” As he passes the elementary school, Mr. Theroux gets the feeling that he is being watched, and this feeling is confirmed when he hears a child behind him cry, “My money is not swinging, it is shaking.”
His agent received dozens of requests for personal appearances and invitations to speak. Mr Theroux, a 52-year-old British-American documentary maker with a bookish, somewhat disturbing demeanor, rejected them all, not least because, as he said in a video interview from his London home: “I’m not trying to be a rapper. “.
But in a way, he already did: Mr. Theroux is the man behind “Jiggle Jiggle,” a TikTok and YouTube sensation that has been streamed hundreds of millions of times. He raps in a low-key voice that bears traces of his Oxford education, lending a funny touch to the lines “My money don’t shake, shake, it add up / I’d like to see you wiggle, wiggle.”
To Mr Theroux, son of an American writer Paul Theroux and actor Justin Theroux’s cousin, the whole episode was weird and a little unsettling. “I’m glad people like rap,” he said. “At the same time, there is a part of me that has mixed feelings. It’s a bittersweet thing to experience a moment of virality breaking through something that at first glance seems so disposable and so inconsistent with what I actually do in my work. But here we are.”
The story of how this middle-aged father of three took over youth culture through groundbreaking rap is “a striking example of the strangeness of the world we live in in the 21st century,” Mr. Theroux said.
“Jiggle Jiggle” took years to mature before becoming popular. It started in 2000 when Mr. Theroux hosted Louis Theroux’s Strange Weekend, a BBC Two series in which he delved into various subcultures. Per episode in the third and final season, he traveled to the American South, where he met a number of rappers, including Master P. As part of the show, he decided to rap himself, but had only a few meager lines: “Jiggle Jiggle / I like it when Are you swaying/It makes me want to dribble/Do you want to play the violin?
He hired Reese and Bigalow, a rap duo from Jackson, Mississippi, to help get him in shape. Bigalow cleaned up the opening lines and combined the word “wiggle” with the word “jingle” to represent the sound of coins in a pocket. Reese asked him what kind of car he drives. His response, the Fiat Tipo, led to the lines: “Riding in my Fiat/You really should see it/Six foot two in the compact/No sag, but luckily the seats recline.”
“Reese and Bigalow gave rap a real quality,” Theroux said. “The elements that make it special I would never have written myself. At the risk of over-analysing it, the genius part of it, in my opinion, was saying “My money ain’t shaking, shaking, it adds up.’ There was something very pleasant in the intonation of these words.
He was filmed performing the song live on New Orleans hip-hop station Q93, and BBC viewers witnessed his rap debut when the episode aired in the fall of 2000. Weird Weekends took on new life in 2016 when Netflix licensed the show and began streaming it on Netflix UK. The rap episode became a favorite, and whenever Mr. Theroux advertised a new project, interviewers inevitably asked him about his hip-hop forays.
This February, while promoting a new show, “Forbidden America Louis TherouxTheroux was interviewed on a popular internet talk show. “Date at the chicken store,hosted by London-based comedian Amelia Dimoldenberg.
“Can you remember any rap you’ve done?” asked Miss Dimoldenberg, urging Mr Theroux run into your rhymes in what he described as “my slightly pompous and dry English delivery”.
“What happened afterwards is the most mysterious part,” he added.
Luke Conybeare and Isaac McKelvey, a pair of DJ-producers from Manchester, England known as Duke and Jones, took the sound from “Chicken Shop Date” and put it in the background track with a slight beat. Then they uploaded song to his YouTube account, where he has 12 million views and continues to grow.
But “Jiggle Jiggle” became a phenomenon thanks in large part to Jess Qualter and Brooke Blewitt, a 21-year-old graduate of Laine Theater Arts, a performing arts college in Surrey, England. In April, two friends were making pasta in their shared apartment when they heard the song and hurriedly choreographed moves appropriate for a track—dribbling a basketball, turning a steering wheel—and the Jiggle Jiggle dance was born.
Wearing hoodies and sunglasses (the outfit was chosen because they weren’t wearing make-up, the women said in interviews), Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt 27 second video do their own routine. It went viral shortly after Ms. Qualter posted it on TikTok. Video copycats soon appeared on TikTok users around the world.
“All this was happening without my knowledge,” Mr Theroux said. “I got an email saying ‘Hey the rap remix you did on ‘Chicken Shop Date’ is going viral and doing incredible things on TikTok.” I’m like, “Well, that’s funny and weird.”
He broke out of TikTok and went mainstream last month when Shakira performed the song “Jiggle Jiggle”.dance on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Snoop Dogg, Megan Thee Stallion and Rita Ora have posted their dances to it. Downton Abbey Cast Revealed during the red carpet.
“Anthony Hopkins has just did something yesterdayMr Theroux said. “Calling it a dance would be overkill. It’s more of a twitch. But he does something“.
This whole episode was strange for his three kids, especially his 14-year-old son, who is into TikTok. “Why is my dad, the most cowering guy in the universe, everywhere on TikTok?” Mr Theroux said, voicing his son’s reaction.
“I left my stink all over his timeline,” he continued. “I think it made him very embarrassed and a little offended.”
Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt are equally surreal when they see Shakira and the others dancing to their moves. “I almost forgot we made it up,” said Ms. Qualter. “It doesn’t look like it happened. It has over 60 million views. We see the number on the screen, but I can’t figure out the people behind it.”
After the original Duke & Jones remix went viral, i.e. with vocals taken from “Chicken Shop Date”, the DJ/producer duo asked Mr. Theroux to redo his vocals in the recording studio. So instead of being just another TikTok earworm, “Jiggle Jiggle” could be made available on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms, and its creators could get some exposure and profit from it.
In addition to Mr. Theroux, five composers are credited in the official release: Duke & Jones; Reese and Bigalow; and 81-year-old hitmaker Neil Diamond. Mr. Diamond became part of the team when his reps signed “Jiggle Jiggle,” which echoes his 1967 song “Red Red Wine” in the part where Mr. Theroux’s auto-tuned voice sings the words “red, red wine.” Song hit the Spotify viral charts globally last month.
Does this mean it’s real money?
“I sincerely hope that we can all make this phenomenon fun. Or maybe a few folds,” Mr. Theroux said. “So far, it’s been more at the end of the wiggle.”
During his career as a documentary filmmaker, Mr. Theroux has explored the worlds of male porn stars, the Church of Scientology, right-wing militia groups and opioid addicts. In his new BBC series Forbidden America, Mr. Theroux explores the impact of social media on the entertainment industry and politics. A few years before Netflix released a popular show dedicated to Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as the Tiger King, Mr. Theroux made a film about him. American documentary filmmaker John Wilson, creator and star of the HBO series “Like John Wilsoncites him as an influence.
Now his body of work has eclipsed, at least temporarily, Jiggle Jiggle. And like so many others who are going viral, Mr. Theroux is trying to understand what just happened and figure out what to do with this newfound cultural capital.
“It’s not like I have a catalog and now I can release all my other pieces of new rap,” he said. “I’m clearly not going to tour it. “Come to Mr. Jiggle himself.” It will be a 20-second concert.”