ATLANTA (AP) — Two teachers were recently looking for ways to motivate their students for a new school year amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit their south Georgia community especially hard. Their solution — remakes of rapper Jack Harlow’s ‘WHATS POPPIN’ — has gone viral.
Audrianna Williams and Callie Evans posted their versions of the popular rap song on social media on Aug. 16, a day before the first day of school at Monroe Comprehensive High School in Albany, Georgia.
Since then, both videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views, national media attention and statements of support from celebrities ranging from Taraji P. Henson to Timbaland and Missy Elliot. They were also surprised by Harlow himself during an appearance on Good Morning America last week.
“That was a complete surprise,” Williams told The Associated Press. She came up with the idea to do a remix of the catchy tune, which is slang for “What’s up?” or “What’s going on?”
Williams then approached Evans about it, who agreed to do the videos. The two wrote their lyrics, recorded the song in a studio and shot their separate videos all within a week.
This isn’t the first time the pair had done a back-to-school song. But with the pandemic canceling their opportunity to have in-person interactions with their students since March, this year was different.
“We had some students who lost their parents, their grandparents, their aunts and uncles and some of them even had COVID themselves,” Evans told The AP. In her video, she raps that “COVID-19 had us stressed, but it’s nothing,” before adding “We gon’ overcome that’s facts no bluffing,” as a cheer squad both teachers also coach dance behind her.
“We wanted to make sure that we were motivating them to say no matter the adversity and no matter what was going on in your life, you can always push through and always be the best that you can be,” Evans said.
It’s a timely message. Dougherty County, where the school is located, was hit hard by the coronavirus back in March. And as of Thursday, about 180 people in the county had died and nearly 3,000 have tested positive.
“Our school district is starting 100% online so there were a lot of students and teachers nervous about what that would mean,” said LaKisha Bryant Bruce, community relations director at Dougherty County School System.
The video has diverted that focus, helping calm the fears and nerves of those involved, including school administrators who danced alongside both teachers for another social media video a few days ago.
It has also been a bright spot for students.
“They’re the first one to mention what site we’ve been posted on,” Williams said. “They are probably more excited than we are.”