Every Memorial Day, thousands of people flock to South Beach for a celebration of hip-hop culture. But just before the weekend-long festival kicked off, rap kicked the bucket. Remember when you had to rap to be a rapper? Those days are officially over, even if none of the Urban Beach Week-end warriors seem to have noticed.
Lil Terrio, the seven-year-old Georgian who became famous on the video-looping service Vine, now has a music video. Shot outside of Grand Central nightclub in downtown Miami, "Ooh Kill Em" relies on all kinds of acrobatics and camera wizardry to play up the goofy move Terrio's known for.
What's even more wild is this -- Complex reports that a whole album is in the works with guys like DJ Khaled signed on. But to borrow from that Miami performer's lexicon: Is it possible that Terrio is "suffering from success?"
Back in March, New Times attended the music video for "Ooh Kill Em" and left with doubts about an elementary-school-aged child's ability to keep up with a hip-hop lifestyle. The paper also found that Terrio Harshaw had been pulled out of his Georgia school and sent to live with Herbert Battle, a 25-year-old Miami man with a criminal record.
Since that article came out in April, New Times has obtained a copy of Terrio's contract. The company that Battle heads, Tha Lights Inc., gets 50 percent of whatever Terrio makes for the next seven years. Florida does not have laws that require a trust fund for child stars.
Although not everyone is able to capitalize on viral fame, Battle is certainly trying to make it happen for his young charge. Terrio charges $8,000 for a three-hour nightclub appearance, according to his artists' rider, also obtained by New Times.
Besides being lucrative, Terrio has other uses for Battle and his crew. According to a former handler who didn't want to be named: Once, Terrio was transported to Atlanta for the BET Hip-Hop Awards by his manager. No one in the party had a ticket -- they wanted to use the dancing child as a way to get in. Terrio reportedly had a different idea of what would be a fun night away from home; he wanted to use a hotel's pool rather than meet rappers. The former handler remembers being disturbed by Terrio's tears as he was driven off to the ceremony.
"He doesn't really know what's going on in certain instances, and he can't be a kid," the former handler says. "He was taken out of school to become the next Justin Bieber, which is just ridiculous."
Perhaps more ridiculous is that major labels like Interscope are reportedly interested in signing a talent that doesn't say a single word in his video debut. Although Terrio certainly can dance, it's worth asking why we're rewarding a man -- manager Battle -- for taking a kid out of school and sticking him in nightclubs. As new platforms like Vine serve as launching pads to unexpected stardom, Terrio is an example of why we need to re-evaluate our laws and come up with ones that protect children from contracts and management deals that aren't in their best interests.
Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.
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