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Following viral exposure, due in large part to its role in the Mannequin Challenge trend, it became both Rae Sremmurd's and Gucci Mane's first number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 and their first top ten appearance in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
Background and composition
The song was one of the last tracks recorded for SremmLife 2 and was a major reason for the album's delay from its planned June release date. Musically, "Black Beatles" is a lo-fihip hop and trap song.
Andrew Unterburger of Billboard stated that "Black Beatles" is "a vital, quintessentially youthful song, which is extremely welcome in this oncoming era of social conservatism. Though both brothers Khalif 'Swae Lee' Brown and Aaquil 'Slim Jxmmi' Brown are now of legal voting age, as an entity Rae Sremmurd remains decidedly new-wave, part of Atlanta's bumper crop of young MCs who are less concerned with paying fealty to hip-hop history than they are with blowing out the genre's formalistic constraints to their own thrilling, individualistic ends. Which isn't to say that the Chainsmokers and Halsey were stodgy and back-to-basics, either -- 'Closer' was, in some ways, a blockbusting song in its own right--but after 12 weeks, any song becomes Establishment. Change was needed, and change was delivered." He also stated that while "'Black Beatles' is certainly not an explicitly political song, and the duo might understandably roll their eyes at any reading of their now-signature hit that suggests that it is," he praised the duo for the group's tribute to the Beatles and their ability to subvert expectations of the status quo.
Rolling Stones editor Rob Sheffield ranked "Black Beatles" at number ten in his year-end list:
"No wonder Macca himself is a fan. The rap duo come together and rock their John Lennon lenses with a party-and-bullshit anthem so undeniable it hit Number One. Everybody's welcome at their club: young bloods, old geezers, weirdo girls with green hair, dealers, haters, Gucci Mane. A blunted time is guaranteed for all."
Pitchfork would later list "Black Beatles" on their ranking of the 100 best songs of 2016 at number 10. Meanwhile, Billboard named "Black Beatles" the best pop song of 2016. In the annual Village Voice's Pazz & Jop mass critics poll of the year's best in music in 2016, "Black Beatles" was ranked at number 4.
"Black Beatles" peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming both Rae Sremmurd's and Gucci Mane's first number one single and the most successful yet of their careers, and dislodged The Chainsmokers and Halsey's "Closer" for the top spot, which had held that for 12 consecutive weeks. The song has topped the chart for seven non-consecutive weeks. On the issue dated January 7, 2017, it lost the top spot to "Starboy" by The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk, though returned to number one the following week. It also peaked at number one in Indonesia and New Zealand. The song had already entered the top 20 of the US Billboard charts before its surge in performance following the Mannequin Challenge. It dropped out of the top ten on February 25, 2017, after spending fourteen consecutive weeks there. It also peaked at number two in the UK and number three in Ireland, Canada and Australia, becoming both artists' highest-charting single in those countries.
As of February 11, 2017, "Black Beatles" has sold 1,188,000 copies in the United States. The track has also been certified 6× Platinum by the RIAA.
In the UK Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 36 on the week ending on 17 November 2016. The following week, it rose to number four, before spending three consecutive weeks at number two.
On September 22, 2016, the music video for "Black Beatles" was released on Rae Sremmurd's Vevo account on YouTube. It was directed by Motion Family.
Usage in media
On October 26, 2016, the Mannequin Challenge went viral. The trend involves shooting footage of a crowd standing frozen in place, often using "Black Beatles" as background music.
On November 30, 2016, Nicki Minaj and Mike Will Made It released a remix of the song together titled "Black Barbies". It uses the instrumental from the song, and similar lyrics. This version peaked at 65 in the United States and 78 in Canada.
Soulja Boy Tell 'Em released a freestyle to the song, also using the song's instrumentation as well as similar lyrics. It was included on his 2016 mixtape King Soulja 7.