Who's behind 'Linny Hoo', the viral TikTok song with more than 80 million views?

Giddes Chalamanda, 92, is now a social media star thanks to his song going viral

Malawian musician Giddes Chalamanda, 92, has become a TikTok star with his song 'Linny Hoo', but he has no idea what social media is. AFP
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It's garnered more than 80 million views on TikTok and an additional seven million on YouTube and spawned mash-ups and remixes, but the man behind viral Malawian song Linny Hoo has no idea how social media works. He doesn't even own a smartphone.

At 92, singer Giddes Chalamanda was, until recently, blissfully unaware that he had become a social media star, although now has an inkling of his online fame.

"They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works," he told AFP. "But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention."

Chalamanda, who's been performing for more than 70 years, first recorded the song Linny, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000. Then in 2020, gospel artist Patience Namadingo approached him to record a reggae remix titled Linny Hoo.

The black-and-white video shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, while a group of neighbours look on.

The video soon went viral on YouTube and then landed on TikTok where it became all the rage with users creating their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

Sung in Chewa, one of Malawi's most widely spoken languages, Linny Hoo's lyrics are a mash-up of the original song's lyrics, in which Chalamanda sings about a "wise girl" named Linny, and then progresses to him and Namadingo playfully touching on everything from Chalamanda's old hits as well as Namadingo's marriage, and immigrating to America.

@kavepuka

#duet with @the_new_vibe_zm 🇿🇦 🇲🇼 #linnyhoo #linnyhoochallenge #fyp ❤️❤️❤️

♬ original sound - Muller_Kay92

"When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is," musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

"The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special."

Chalamanda said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays, but hopes to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

"I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me," he said. "While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money."

Updated: January 20, 2022, 10:51 AM
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