Wendy’s dropped a mixtape earlier this week (yes, that’s the burger chain, not an up-and-coming female rapper) and it’s already topping the charts.
“Rest in Grease” — a fiery diss track aimed at the restaurant’s competitors, mainly McDonald’s — reached No. 1 on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 list Wednesday, surpassing trending songs from artists like Shawn Mendes, Lil Dicky, Chris Brown, Rihanna and Drake. Two other songs from the five-track mixtape, “Twitter Fingers” and “4 for 4$,” also made it into the playlist’s top 10.
A tweet announcing the mixtape received over 30,000 retweets in under ten hours.
The mixtape has sparked a debate online over whether or not a fast-food joint should be in the business of creating music ventures. Some listeners have criticized Wendy’s for undermining the mixtape game with an obvious marketing ploy, while others have lauded its use of themes in contemporary hip-hop and top 40 to produce what many are considering an absolute banger.
Those who are vocally condemning the brand for releasing We Beefin? seem to be forgetting some key facts: multibillion-dollar franchises and conglomerate corporations are already in the business of producing commercial mix tapes, and Wendy’s is far from the first food brand to create their own music.
The recent project reflects Wendy’s presence on social media: the company employs influencers with a deep wealth of knowledge in internet culture, providing the fast-food restaurant’s Twitter page with a sassy, millennial-focused voice. The mixtape addresses an ongoing feud between Wendy’s social media personality and that of McDonald’s: both burger joints have sent thinly-veiled tweets attacking each other’s food quality.
There’s no denying the bars and beats comprised in We Beefin? are — at the very least — on-par with current trends in popular music. According to Genius, one song on the mixtape titled “Holding It Down” was produced by WondaGurl, a 20-year-old beat maker who helped produce Jay Z’s “Crown,” as well as Metro Boomin, a popular producer who works with the likes of Kanye West and Gucci Mane. The female rapper who takes on the personality of Wendy’s remains a mystery, though her fast food enemies are clear as day.
“Wendy’s been holding it down for like a minute now / Mickey bleep was tryna beef, it’s time to finish now,” the rapper says. “Can’t be no king, yo burgers ain’t the finest thing / I can’t believe you peasants have the audacity.”
The project was released by the marketing agency VML, with creative direction from Six Course Inc. “The mixtape, whose individual creators remain unnamed, is Wendy’s enthronement of itself at the top of the fast food industry in the face of competitors,” the Wendy’s Genius page reads. The raps are smart, humorous, and loaded with food-related puns. It’s a unique advertising approach for a company to take, and might just be the first time a restaurant released a mixtape calling out their major competitors by name.
Still, Wendy’s isn’t the first chain to create some jingles that get people talking — but they may have done it better than anyone else yet.
Someone who sounds like Justin Beiber sang a jam similar to “We Are The World” for Arby’s about the chain’s two for $5 deal. McDonald’s has a decades-long career of creating original music in an attempt to sell its burgers — and its classic “ba da ba ba ba” jingle is more familiar to some than the National Anthem.
Other times, attempts by food corporations to create catchy jams were failures from the very start. Mary J. Blige was hired by Burger King in 2012 to recreate her song, “Don’t Mind,” with a focus on the company’s chicken wraps. The commercial was pulled after being widely criticized for displaying “racist” stereotypes.
Wendy’s has attempted to put a meta-spin on a common business strategy employed by various food chains for decades, and yet it’s still receiving the same flack from a very vocal minority of listeners. For what it’s worth, the burger chain doesn’t seem to be phased by its naysayers — or at least that can be said for the millennials working on its social media team.
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