• 02.16.12

You Probably Think This Riot In Paris Song Is About You (Because It Is)

Brooklyn-based hip-hop duo Riot !n Paris is spending the next four weeks writing and recording songs for Internet strangers. Will you be one of them?

Most people are rather entitled. It’s true. We love to be catered to, we enjoy curated experiences, and we want everything customized to our own exact specifications. With the help of social media tools, marketers have found entertaining ways to harness this condition. Old Spice famously flattered consumers back in 2010 (with the help of Wieden + Kennedy) by tailoring a series of web-only ads directly to them on an individual level. Others have followed suit. It was only a matter of time before some Brooklyn musicians attempted a similar tactic to promote their music.


“Track Me” is a new social musical experiment, the brainchild of alt hip-hop crew, Riot !n Paris. Starting today, the band will spend the next four weeks crafting all-new, personalized songs for random strangers. Anyone interested enough to allow their digital selves to be thoroughly inspected, and interesting enough to sufficiently impress the group, is about to get a new theme song.

“With all the stuff people post, tweet and put out in the Google-sphere, there is enough material to write a whole song for each of them. So we thought, why not do that?” says Leif Abraham and Christian Behrendt of Innovative Thunder, the group behind the project (and a side project of Abraham and Behrendt, two creative directors at digital agency R/GA).

The bespoke content craze had already spread to music before, to be sure. Buskers have been offering to strum new songs for donation-minded passersby for ages, and Belle & Sebastian even held a contest to produce a new song for one lucky fan. But perhaps nobody has tried this approach on quite the level that Riot !n Paris are operating on.

Riot !n Paris may not be Belle & Sebastian, but they’re not buskers either. They will be spending the next four weeks holed up inside the studio in which their debut EP was created–writing, recording, mixing, and mastering professional-quality tracks. Furthermore, with the help of Innovative Thunder, the group has made it easy for future audio-narcissists to apply for a song to be written about them.

All users have to do is visit the experiment’s landing page and hit the “Track Me” button. Doing so will give the band permission and access to see how their potential muse presents him- or herself to the world. Anyone whose timeline isn’t filled with pictures of home-prepared meals will get a new song shortly thereafter.

Hip-hop is usually such a personal, self-focused genre of music that it’s somewhat jarring to hear rap songs that are entirely about other people. While Riot !n Paris will release the first songs from the experiment on Friday morning, they have already posted a few examples based on some of their favorite social personalities, including Aziz Ansari, Kate Upton, Mike Woods, and Terry Richardson.


If nothing else, this contest will finally solve the mystery of whether your Internet persona is more interesting than Kate Upton’s.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.