What's It Like When Your Song Goes Viral 20 Years Later? Ghostown DJs Talk Running Man Challenge

The 'My Boo' originators reflect on their single's resurgence

You've seen the videos. You probably have a favorite one. You might've even made one yourself.

You did not, though, make the song playing in the background of The Running Man Challenge, the latest sensation spreading like wildfire across social media. That distinction goes to the Ghostown DJs, whose 1996 hit "My Boo" was given new life thanks to its part in the viral moment.

The challenge started in mid-April, when a pair of high schoolers posted a dance, backed by "My Boo," on Instagram. It picked up quickly, thanks especially to a couple of University of Maryland basketball players (they've since, along with the originators, made a stop on The Ellen DeGeneres Show). Everyone from NBA, NFL, and MLB players to college athletes to Chris Brown has accepted the challenge so far.

The unexpected moment has brought a new spotlight onto the Ghostown DJs, with the single currently at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- higher than it charted two decades ago -- and the song getting exposed to and becoming a favorite of an entirely new generation.

MTV News caught up with Virgo Williams, the vocalist on the track, and DJ Demp, one of the members of Ghostown DJs, to talk about the song's origins, what they've been up to over the last two decades, and what the sudden resurgence has felt like.

MTV News: Can you tell me a little bit about the group, and how "My Boo" first came to life?

DJ Demp: Rodney Terry is the head of GhostownDJs. I’m the DJ, along with Greg Street. Carl Mo [Carlton Mahone], who is a legendary producer, wrote the song; Rodney Terry produced the beat for it. They came up with the record. Virgo came in and sung the record. And that’s how the project came about.

MTV News: When you were initially recording it, was it supposed to be a whole album? Or was this a one-off joint?

Demp: It was more of a one-off joint. Girls were called in to the studio to sing the record and, actually, Virgo came in just to do some background vocals, but her voice matched the song perfect, and she ended up as the lead singer.

MTV News: How did it end up with Jermaine Dupri and So So Def and on the So So Def Bass All-Stars album?

Demp: Lil Jon, he actually was A&Ring the project for Jermaine Dupri. He was the A&R of So So Def [Ed. note: Yes -- that Lil Jon]. He was putting together this compilation, and wanted the “My Boo” record on it.

MTV News: What was that like for you, Virgo, coming in and thinking you’d do background, and all of a sudden you’re at the forefront?

Virgo Williams: It was exciting. I went in initially just to lay the background vocals. Everything went well, and all of a sudden I get a call back saying, “Hey, can you come in and lay the lead?” I was like, “Sure!” It just took off from there.

MTV News: What memories do you have of the time when it was released and the first round of success?

Williams: I remember riding down Highway 85 in Atlanta and turning on the radio and hearing that song blazing. I was like, oh my gosh, it’s really on the radio. And then to see it just take off and grow, it was amazing. It was pure joy and excitement.

MTV News: So let's bring it to 2016. When was it that you guys first caught wind of the Running Man Challenge and realized that your song was the background for and a major player in this viral moment?

Williams: I was at home, and a DJ friend of mine out of Chicago, DJ T-Storm, he called me and was like, “Have you seen this?” And I was like, “No?!” I looked it up, saw it, and all of a sudden, in not even a 24-hour span, I started seeing it all over social media. I was like, wow!

MTV News: What was your initial reaction? Were you confused? Happy? A combination of a number of things?

Williams: It was very exciting. I was happy. This is cool, to see people taking this song -- especially a younger generation -- and loving it, and having as much fun with it as we did.

MTV News: Demp, do you remember when you first saw it?

Demp: It was around mid-April. I got an email from TMZ. I hadn’t seen any of the videos before --- I hadn’t even heard of it --- and [they] hit my booking email saying they wanted to get in contact with me about the Running Man Challenge. And I didn’t know what it was. That was my first time hearing of it. So I went and started checking it out, and I was like, wow. I didn’t understand what was about to happen, because that was still the early stages of it.

Williams: Yeah. I didn’t think it was going to take a life of its own, either. That was very unexpected.

Demp: The Maryland basketball players, they made it go viral, and then Justise Winslow from the Miami Heat, and then everybody just started doing it. I was like, this is crazy.

MTV News: Do you have a favorite?

Williams: I think my favorite one is the one with the grandmother and her two grandkids.

Demp: [Laughs] I like that one! She’s funny.

Williams: She was doing it.

MTV News: There are so many great ones. Have you seen the dogs?

Williams: I missed that one.

Demp: I tagged you in it [on Instagram]!

Williams: There are so many! I missed some of them. [laughs]

MTV News: It was also cool to see that the song is high on Billboard and the iTunes charts. What’s that been like?

Williams: It’s awesome. My manager showed it to me. He couldn’t believe it. He was like, “This is charting! Again.” It’s just mind-blowing. God had his hand all of that. Because you don’t see that.

MTV News: When these things go viral, eventually you get sick of it. But at least for me, I’m not there yet with this.

Williams: I thought that, too. Like, man, this is going to get old real quick. But every time I see it, it’s something different. It gets me every time. There’s one with a kid dancing through school with glasses on and he’s in a garbage can.

Demp: Everybody’s having fun and it’s just excitement. You have the police departments getting involved and challenging each other. They’re all overseas doing it. It’s bringing everybody together, really. It’s a beautiful feeling.

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