Twenty-two-year-old Taahira Aqyila Duff says she never would have imagined that one day, superstar singer Lizzo would be vibing to her viral song, “Vibe For Me (Bob for Me).”
“I remember I was twisting my hair that night, and then I went to my phone to check my notifications,” said Duff, a Toronto-area resident who was raised in Canada by Jamaican parents.
The up-and-coming artist, who goes by her middle name of Aqyila, saw that Lizzo was singing along to a version of her song called “Bob For Me.”
“I saw I was getting tagged, and they’re like, ‘Lizzo, Lizzo, Lizzo,’ and then I went to her page and I saw her singing it, and I was like, ‘ahhh!’” Duff told Atlanta Black Star.
Lizzo wrote “Love you” in the comments of Duff’s duetted TikTok clip, which has gotten over 1.7 million views.
The “Bob For Me” version of Duff’s confidence anthem first blew up in November when she posted the brief clip on TikTok with the caption, “Lol, I forgot this was in my drafts.” The video, which shows her rocking a cute bob hairstyle, has gotten more than 13.8 million views and around 2.2 million likes.
In the clip, the talented singer sings, “Baby, it’s the bob for me. It’s the bob for me. Do you see her out there bobbing freely? Stiff where? Woo!”
Duff says veteran R&B singer Monica also used her “Bob For Me” version on the TikTok app.
“Other people reached out and they were like, ‘Listen, like, your voice is amazing,’” Duff shared. “It’s just been really surreal, I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Duff first started posting on TikTok nearly a year ago, when she began showcasing her talents to the world. She writes and sings her own music, and records it on her MacBook’s Garageband app.
The singer says since age 5 she’s been influenced by the vocal riffs and runs of artists like Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige. “I’d just go around the house imitating it, and I guess that’s how I kind of, in a way, taught myself,” Duff said.
The singer briefly attended college to study child and youth care, but quickly determined that it wasn’t the right path for her, so she dropped out. “I’ve just been working part time at a Mexican restaurant, that’s been pretty fun,” Duff said.
Taahira Aqyila Duff. @aqyila/InstagramIn the meantime, she’s been gaining massive popularity for her singing online. The artist says TikTok has been a major factor in getting exposure.
“TikTok honestly is one of the greatest tools that we have now for social media, because since it’s so easy; like, you’re just sitting on the screen scrolling, you’re bound to pop up on somebody’s page,” Duff shared.
Her millions of TikTok views are beginning to translate into digital streaming success. By Feb. 20, “Vibe For Me” had already been streamed nearly 1.42 million times on Spotify, which, using one widely cited Spotify stream payout estimate of $0.00437 per stream, translates to about $6,200 in current earnings for Duff, who is waiting on that first check.
“It takes about three months for me to actually see what I’m going to get, so I am waiting on that!” she laughed.
The singer might not have seen her well-deserved earnings yet, but continued TikTok exposure could potentially make her a lot of money on streaming platforms, a recent analysis suggests.
The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” hit it big on TikTok, leading to an increase to 1.6 billion Spotify streams that raked in more than $7.2 million in 2020, a study from OnlineGambling.ca found.
The Canadian artist says when the money does start rolling in it’s important to her that everyone involved gets their fair share. Producers PDUB and Thomas Crager provided the beat for “Vibe For Me.” “I made sure to credit them and make sure that they also get their payment, because without that beat, it wouldn’t even exist,” she said.
For other aspiring singers hoping to find success via TikTok and other social media platforms, Duff shares advice.
“As long as you push out a lot of stuff, people are bound to see it on the ‘For You’ page, and I also heard that posting at 10 p.m. is really good, because that’s when everybody’s apparently on their phones,” Duff said. She also advised that people remain true to themselves without giving in to fame.
While she’s not yet signed to a label, Duff plans to release an EP or an album at some point this year. First she wants to upgrade from recording on the Garageband app to using proper studio equipment, she says.
Her song “Vibe For Me” is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms.