Tommy Richman's "Million Dollar Baby" Is an Instant Smash

An early Song of the Summer contender has arrived.

via Tommy Richman

Fuck a slow burn. Sometimes a song is so undeniable that it immediately slaps you in the face and demands attention.

That’s what’s happening with Tommy Richman’s “Million Dollar Baby” right now. The sunny, funk-infused r&b record has been out for less than four days, but it’s already everywhere, and according to some chart prediction sites, it might even be heading for a top 10 debut on next week’s Billboard Hot 100.

It’s rare to see a new song from a rising artist blow up this quickly, but Richman’s success arrives amidst a perfect storm of social media hype, impeccable timing, and some of the most intoxicating melodies we’ve heard all year. 

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Over a ridiculously bouncy bassline, the Virginia singer layers his own voice on top of itself—a pitched-down chant, a soaring falsetto, background hums, and a silky refrain—in an endearingly self-indulgent way. Technically, the song has one verse and two choruses, but the way Richman sings it, it almost sounds like he stacks three hooks on top of each other. It’s dessert for dinner, and with a runtime of only two and a half minutes, it’s damn-near impossible not to run it back at least once. No wonder it’s already putting up absurd numbers.

It all started when Richman posted a snippet of the song on April 13. The short video clip, which shows him dancing to the song with a group of friends in the studio, blew up on TikTok instantly, racking up over 6 million views. Fans rushed to the comment section with messages like, “Drop this before I forget about it,” and Richman wisely didn’t hold out long, capitalizing on the hype by dropping it on April 26. His team listened to the requests of fans (one of the top-voted comments says “the bass better hit just like this when you drop it”) and released an additional “VHS version” that replicates the blown-out bass that everyone fell in love with on the low-quality snippet. In this case, anyway, it’s paying off to give the people exactly what they want.

Richman couldn’t have picked a better weekend to drop “Million Dollar Baby,” because it arrived exactly when much of America experienced the first truly nice weather of spring. As everyone headed outside in the sun and started having “Song of the Summer” conversations for the first time, he delivered the first real contender of the year. The song emerged as an internet phenomenon at first, but it’s already starting to have real-life legs. On Saturday night in LA, I heard it out in two separate bars, and when you experience it in a room full of people, there’s something oddly familiar about it, like a song you've heard at weddings for decades without even realizing it. Maybe it’s the funky bass?

So far, the numbers are staggering. The song debuted with nearly two million first-day streams on Spotify, and it's only gone up from there. By Monday morning, it had climbed to the No. 1 spot on Apple Music's all-genre song chart, passing all of Taylor Swift's new songs. And by next week, it might end up in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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OK, so who is this guy anyway? Before everyone inevitably starts throwing out lazy “industry plant” allegations, let’s get a couple of things out of the way. Richman has been putting in work for a while. The first song on his Spotify page (“Ballin’ Stalin”) was released back in 2016, and he dropped his Paycheck EP in 2022, before becoming the first artist on Brent Faiyaz's indie ISO Supremacy label (in partnership with PULSE Records). Rather than signing to a major label, he agreed to a licensing deal with PULSE, who distributed "Million Dollar Baby" through Stem. 

Richman went on the road with Faiyaz as an opening act for the F*ck the World tour in 2023, while releasing a steady drip of his own catchy, funk-infused R&B songs, including “Last Nite” and “Selfish.” He picked up enough buzz to earn a spot on Complex’s R&B Artists to Watch in 2024 list in January, after being highlighted as one of Pigeons & Planes’ Artists to Watch back in 2022.

Reflecting on his come-up with Miami New Times last August, Richman remembered, “When I would work in my mother's basement for hours on tracks, and she'd be telling me to get a real job like most moms, I'd be like, 'No, no, no, it's gonna work out.'”

It turns out he was right. Tommy Richman’s life just changed this weekend, and we’re about to hear him all summer.

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