It all started in 2015. Silento, a high school student in Atlanta, casually dropped a song that he and beatsmith Bolo Da Producer cooked up on the fly. Prior to that, Silento was something of a high school celebrity. “I was 16 and promoting myself throughout my high school, releasing funny videos over the Internet,” Silento recalls. He would participate in talent shows and temper his offline self-promo with online video releases, all within the interest of going viral. Then one day it happened. “I released [“Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)”] over SoundCloud and within the first day it went to 1,000 listens. The next day it was at 4,000,” he explains. On his 17th birthday (January 22nd, 2015), he dropped the video on YouTube. It hit the 50,000 mark within a day of its release. Something was clearly brewing.
Labels began knocking, ultimately leading to Silento inking a deal with Capitol Records. “It was suggested that I should be homeschooled,” Silento remembers about his mid-year high school success. “But I decided to stay because I was almost finished, and if I was home schooled I couldn’t graduate with my class and get my official diploma.” With that reward came some sacrifices. “I didn’t get to experience a lot of the things new artists get to experience when they’re first signed,” he says with only slight regret. “Certain events, performances. I was still in school working to get my diploma.” He used that time to leverage his global appeal, by collaborating with buzzing artists around the world—including “Dessert” with Darwin, “Girl In the Mirror” with British viral phenomenon Sophia Grace, and “Spotlight” with South Korean pop act Kima Samuel bka PUNCH. Silento translated his hit into French and Spanglish, only propelling his worldwide allure even further.
Many artists ride high off the success of their first single, becoming too comfortable with its momentum—often leading to a stagnant career. Silento, on the other hand, turned himself into a brand. He signed a deal with famed agency CAA for future film projects, launched a footwear line http://www.vladofootwear.com, continued work with global artists (“Slide” with Indonesia’s ELS, “Like It Like It” with Norway’s Marcus & Martinus), and began signing acts of his own like longtime friend Lil’ Swag. Silento befriended and collaborated with the richest kid in Dubai (the famed Rashed Saif Belhasa), performed at New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, hung out with the Obamas, garnered awards and accolades. He maintained his philanthropy, visiting children’s hospitals in between global tour dates, as well as receiving an honor from the mayor of Augusta, Georgia for his charitable work within Atlanta and surrounding areas. To call Silento a household name would be an understatement. The stage is now set for his first album.
His aptly titled debut Fresh Outta High School holds a number of meanings for Silento. Being on the road and arguably turning into an adult in front of the cameras means experiencing life through a bigger lens while remembering all of the steps in between. The first single “Young Love” with Skylar Mones drums up nostalgic feelings of high school romance as Silento details those butterflies that lead to cutting class just to be with your crush. “Ay Bae Bae” is a Summertime ready jam, while “Wild” is a proverbial kiss-off to the nonbelievers. “Before people didn’t know me,” Silento explains, “but now I’ve graduated, I’m traveling more now, and people are loving me.” The project is his first full-length release—with TV network Lifetime filming his next video. However, there will be many more projects ahead, extending the success of the song that brought him here. “[“Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)”] was a blessing to me,” Silento says confidently, “and I was able to not only take my fame domestically, but internationally as well.” As he releases Fresh Outta High School, Silento is embarking on the next phase of his career and entering adulthood as a superstar. “This is a journey now for me,” he admits. “It’s no longer a job.”