Mia Khalifa (song)

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"Mia Khalifa"
A pixelated image of a woman with the words "Mia Khalifa Diss" and "iLoveFriday"
Single by iLOVEFRiDAY
from the EP MOOD[1]
ReleasedFebruary 2018 (2018-02)[2]
FormatStreaming media
Recorded2018
Genre
Length2:57
LabelSelf-released
Songwriter(s)
  • Aqsa
  • Xeno Carr
Producer(s)Xeno Carr[3]
iLoveFriday singles chronology
"Travel Ban"
(2018)
"Mia Khalifa"
(2018)
"Woah Vicky (Diss)"
(2018)
Music video
"Mia Khalifa" on YouTube

"Mia Khalifa", sometimes referred to as "Mia Khalifa (Diss)" or "Hit or Miss", is a 2018 song by American hip hop group iLoveFriday. The song is a diss track targeting Mia Khalifa, a Lebanese-American Internet celebrity and former pornographic actress. The duo of Atlanta-based rappers, known as Aqsa (formerly Smoke Hijabi) and Xeno Carr, self-released the song in February 2018. Carr produced the song.

The decision to diss Khalifa arose over a misunderstanding. A faked screenshot, intended as a joke, seemed to show Khalifa criticizing Aqsa for smoking while wearing a hijab in a music video. The members of iLoveFriday and their fans assumed the screenshot was real and took offense at Khalifa's apparent hypocrisy. Khalifa has never publicly commented on the song. It has been praised for its unconventional catchiness, but also criticized as off-key and misogynistic.

Months after its release, the song achieved unexpected viral success on social media, especially among TikTok users. The best-known portion is Aqsa's verse, which opens with a line that became a meme in its own right: "Hit or miss, I guess they never miss, huh?" The phrase inspired the "hit or miss" challenge, in which a person would call out "hit or miss" in a public space to see if someone else would finish the line. The attempt at call-and-response with a stranger was a sort of "secret handshake" among TikTok users. On TikTok and YouTube, the millions of videos that sample the song have accumulated hundreds of millions of plays. Despite the song's breakthrough success on TikTok, the company did not originally license its use and has never compensated the members of iLoveFriday.

Background and release[edit]

A mannequin wearing a veil that covers the top and sides of the head
The song stemmed as a diss to Mia Khalifa after a faked screenshot showed Khalifa criticizing group member Aqsa for smoking while wearing a hijab (example pictured on a mannequin).

The music video for iLoveFriday's 2017 song "Hate Me" showed Aqsa—who is a Pakistani-American woman—smoking a blunt while wearing a hijab, a type of veil worn by some Muslim women and traditionally used to maintain Islamic standards of modesty.[3]

The song and video were modest successes and gained traction within some online meme-centric communities. By January 2018, an Instagram account posted a screenshot of a fake tweet, attributed to Mia Khalifa, that criticized Aqsa and the "Hate Me" video. The fake tweet said:

"She's so disrespectful to all Muslim women and gives us a bad image 🤦‍♀️🧕🏾💣."[2]

Not only was the tweet fake but, in fact, Khalifa is not Muslim and never has been. She was raised in the Catholic Church in Lebanon but is non-practicing.[4]

Although the screenshot was a joke, Aqsa said that she believed it was real when she first saw it and was shocked by the apparent hypocrisy, given Khalifa's notoriety for appearing in a pornographic video performing sex acts while wearing a hijab. Aqsa said in an interview that smoking in a hijab is "not nearly as bad" as what Khalifa had done in a hijab.[5] Many of the group's fans also took the screenshot to be authentic and reacted with anger at Khalifa. There has been some skepticism about whether iLoveFriday themselves realized the screenshot was a joke.[2][6]

Regardless, they recorded "Mia Khalifa" in response to their fans' demand for a diss track. The song was self-released through TuneCore, a service to place songs on services like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music—but, notably, not including TikTok at that time. In its first few months on YouTube, the video for "Mia Khalifa" was reportedly viewed about 5 million times.[2]

In early 2019 the original music video was briefly taken down due to a copyright infringement claim from Romanian artist Livia Fălcaru, as multiple pieces of her original art appeared in the video without her permission.[2]

Music and reception[edit]

The beat was produced by Xeno Carr.[3] Aqsa's verse has been described as the memorable highlight of the song with its distinctive, catchy delivery. According to college newspaper Minnesota Daily, "the song itself rose to notoriety not because of its associations with Mia Khalifa, but rather due to a bizarrely catchy rap bridge."[9] The opening lines have been the most frequently quoted and reused in memes:

"Hit or miss, I guess they never miss, huh? / You got a boyfriend, I bet he doesn't kiss ya / He gon find another girl and he won't miss ya / He gon skrrt and hit the dab like Wiz Khalifa."[6]

The song itself is sometimes known as "Hit or Miss" because of these lines.[10] At Pitchfork, Duncan Cooper said the verse captured Aqsa "at her absolute brattiest". He emphasized her delivery of the phrase "kiss yaaaa!", noting the quality of an "almost Midwestern whine" in her voice despite her Atlanta origins, and wrote that "her melodies are straight and piercing, catchy to an obnoxious degree."[2]

A panel of reviewers at Vice roundly condemned the song, calling it "upsettingly misogynistic in a really specific and sick way," "really off-key and shitty sounding," and demanding that "a formal apology" be issued to Khalifa.[7] An article in the college newspaper KentWired noted the same, further accusing the song of "pettiness" and criticizing the bland production and Aqsa's "grating voice".[8]

The rapper and Internet celebrity Bhad Bhabie—perhaps best known for saying "cash me outside, how bout that" on Dr. Phil—criticized the song as inappropriate for children who were likely to be exposed to it through social media. When asked whether she thought the Internet has a negative effect on children's psychological maturity, Bhad Bhabie replied:

"Yes. It's not even their fault. Sometimes I'm around kids scrolling through TikTok or whatever and that iLoveFriday 'Mia Khalifa' song will pop up and I'll be like, 'Stop listening to that! No!' This girl listening is like seven, she doesn't understand what this song means. It's not her fault, she's just scrolling through TikTok or Musical.ly, which should be a child's app, but all of this music is on there, so, duh, they're going to put two and two together."[11]

Even in the aftermath of its viral success, Khalifa has never publicly commented on the song. According to Reed Kavner at the site Tubefilter, "it's worth reiterating that [Khalifa] was an innocent bystander in all of this. She was the subject of a diss track after doing absolutely nothing. Today, she has 2.3 million Twitter followers and a YouTube channel with her boyfriend celebrity chef Robert Sandberg. None of this will affect her at all."[6]

Viral success[edit]

"Mia Khalifa" and TikTok memes[edit]

TikTok is a social media video app owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance. Formed from a merger with the app Musical.ly in 2018, TikTok allows users to post short videos and use audio clips from its database, generally to make lip sync videos. Some of the audio in the database is officially licensed by the copyright holders, but users can also upload an audio clip on their own, at which point the clip becomes available to other users.[2] TikTok is particularly popular among Generation Z, defined as those born after 1996.[12] The app has been compared to the defunct Vine.[2][12]

We literally put TikTok on the map, for free. So many people made TikTok accounts because of the song—I mean, I made one.

Aqsa (formerly known as Smoke Hijabi), speaking to Pitchfork[2]

"Mia Khalifa" became ubiquitous on TikTok in late 2018 and early 2019.[12] It became so popular, and was so closely identified with the app itself, that it spawned a call and response meme called the "#hitormiss challenge" or "#TikTokTest". To participate in the challenge, TikTok users would wander into a public areas like big-box stores or schools and holler the phrase "hit or miss", hoping to elicit a response from a stranger who might complete the line by calling out "I guess they never miss, huh?" The premise of the meme was that the phrase had become so well known among TikTok users that it could serve as a sort of "secret handshake" to find other TikTok users in the real world.[6][13] As with the app itself, the song and its related memes were mostly produced and consumed by teenage members of Generation Z.[14]

The song demonstrated how social media, meme culture, and TikTok in particular function as important platforms for listeners to discover new music.[2][15] In this capacity, it has been identified as a predecessor to Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road", another song by a previously unknown and unsigned artist that found viral success through TikTok.[16][17][18][10] While other songs reached comparable levels of popularity on the app around the same time as "Mia Khalifa"—including, for example, Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next"—"Mia Khalifa" was different because its success was completely spontaneous. Far from being established, mainstream artists like Grande, iLoveFriday had minimal promotion and their song's "freaky, relatively unfamiliar" style did not seem, on its face, calibrated to have broad appeal.[2]

PewDiePie, pictured in 2016, reused a "Mia Khalifa" clip from TikTok in several of his own YouTube videos and, in doing so, significantly contributed to the song's viral popularity.[2]

The 15-second "hit or miss" snippet from "Mia Khalifa" was first uploaded to TikTok by a high-school age girl from South Dakota.[2] Then, a TikTok user named Georgia Twinn made a highly popular video using the same clip, drawing greater attention to the song.[2][19] In October 2018, the user @NyanNyanCosplay lip-synced the song while cosplaying as the character Nico Yazawa from the Japanese multimedia franchise Love Live!.[3] @NyanNyanCosplay's video was likely the catalyst that inspired the viral phenomenon around the song.[18] @NyanNyanCosplay's video spread to YouTube, where PewDiePie—already the world's most popular individual YouTuber—reused her clip several times in his own videos.[2]

Popularity based on metrics[edit]

Near the end of October 2018, there were more than 1.3 million different videos on TikTok using the same sample;[3] by December, there were more than 2.5 million.[6] By February 2019, at least 4 million different "Mia Khalifa" videos had been uploaded to TikTok, the original music video had been viewed more than 50 million times, and snippets from the song had been played in videos across YouTube approximately 200 million times.[2] The song also reached the number 1 position on Spotify's Global Viral 50 chart, a ranking of the most-streamed independent songs on the platform, and it consistently charted near the top position for several months.[12][15]

On TikTok, total view counts for a single song can be difficult to track, but hashtags associated with the song give helpful indicators of its popularity. Videos tagged with the #hitormisschallenge hashtag had collectively accumulated 93.7 million views as of April 2019.[18] By May, videos tagged with #hitormiss had reached a total of 250 million views.[20] Newspaper columnist Calum noted the existence of an hour-long compilation of dances to "Mia Khalifa" from TikTok.[20]

The song's lyrics were the 18th most-read on the site Genius in the first half of 2019, ranking ahead of "I Don't Care" by Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber and "Wish You Were Gay" by Billie Eilish.[21]

Compensation[edit]

Based on YouTube's compensation system at the time, views on that site probably netted around $150,000 worth of royalty payments for iLoveFriday.[2]

Despite their song's breakthrough success on TikTok, iLoveFriday had not initially licensed it for use on the app and, to date, have never received compensation from the company for the song.[2] However, by early 2019 they had worked out a deal with TikTok granting free use of the song in exchange for promotion of their future music. The group's manager Terrance Rowe said "At the end of the day, the relationship with TikTok is more important than asking them to pay me for a record. It's giving us exposure, and that's what we need to push the brand forward."[2] TikTok has been criticized for its royalties-payment structure. Citing iLoveFriday's situation, Cody Atkinson of Australian BMA Magazine said TikTok's payment seemed to be worse than streaming services or even busking.[22] Brett Gurewitz of the Los Angeles-based punk rock band Bad Religion said "It's what we saw with Chuck Berry getting a Cadillac instead of royalties. It doesn't really matter if it's vinyl or an app, every time there's a new way of doing music, the creators always get screwed."[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [​https://open.spotify.com/album/6zRnY9SaYTsRTcloYI7ziL "​MOOD by iLOVEFRiDAY on Spotify"] Check |url= value (help). Spotify. Retrieved December 28, 2019. zero width space character in |url= at position 1 (help); zero width space character in |title= at position 1 (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Cooper, Duncan (February 12, 2019). "How TikTok Gets Rich While Paying Artists Pennies". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fu, Eddie; Morel, Jacques; Paulin, Jer (October 24, 2018). "iLoveFriday's Diss Song 'Mia Khalifa' Is Spiking in Popularity Because of a Viral TikTok Video". Genius. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  4. ^ Butterly, Amelia (January 8, 2015). "Mia Khalifa, a Lebanon-born porn star, is getting 'scary' death threats". BBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  5. ^ Smoke Hijabi; Xeno Carr (August 11, 2018). "ILoveFriday Explains Mia Khalifa Diss Song" (video). DJ Smallz Eyes. Event occurs at 0:00–0:42. Retrieved September 28, 2019 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ a b c d e Kavner, Reed (December 20, 2018). "From PornHub to the Aisles of Your Local Walmart, Tracking the 'Hit or Miss' #TikTokTest". Tubefilter. Archived from the original on June 14, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Joyce, Colin; Jackson, Dessie; Sundermann, Eric (October 31, 2018). "We Reviewed Literally Whatever You Sent Us, Volume 24". Noisey. Vice Media. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Hluch, Aaron (January 21, 2019). "TikTok: You don't hate the app; you hate its users". KentWired. Kent State Student Media. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  9. ^ Haasch, Palmer (November 4, 2018). "Turning to TikTok for memes is an inevitability". Minnesota Daily. Archived from the original on August 31, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  10. ^ a b St. Michel, Patrick (May 2, 2019). "TikTok sets its sights on the music industry". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  11. ^ Staple, Justin (March 14, 2019). "Bhad Bhabie Doesn't Care What You Think of Her". Noisey. Vice Media. Archived from the original on June 14, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d Fu, Eddie (February 28, 2019). "The TikTok Takeover: How Gen Z's New Favorite App Is Turning Memes into Hits". Genius. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  13. ^ Shamsian, Jacob (December 20, 2018). "A TikTok trend is probably why you've been hearing the phrase 'hit or miss' yelled in public lately". Business Insider. Archived from the original on December 21, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  14. ^ Manavis, Sarah (January 9, 2019). "TikTok: The unlikely meme-generator you're about to see everywhere". New Statesman America. Archived from the original on June 26, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  15. ^ a b LaCerte, Marcie (March 13, 2019). "TikTok — Quartz Obsession". Quartz. Edited by Jessanne Collins and produced by Luiz Romero. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  16. ^ Plagge, Kallie (April 5, 2019). "Red Dead 2, 'Old Town Road,' and the Cowboy Meme Explained". GameSpot. Archived from the original on April 7, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Fu, Eddie; Steele, Lesley; Hill, Tia; Morel, Jacques (March 4, 2019). "Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' Is the Latest Viral Country Trap Hit". Genius. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c Lal, Kish (April 26, 2019). "How TikTok Is Launching Rappers to Viral Success". Complex. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  19. ^ Strapagiel, Lauren (December 21, 2018). "29 of the Best TikTok Memes and Trends of 2018". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on September 20, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Marsh, Calum (May 8, 2019). "How internet memes and inside jokes create a private language that makes us feel like we belong". National Post. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  21. ^ Mench, Chris (July 9, 2019). "Genius Presents: The 2019 Year in Lyrics (So Far)". Genius. Archived from the original on July 15, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  22. ^ Atkinson, Cody (May 27, 2019). "Cody Atkinson is Questioning... TikTok". BMA Magazine. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.