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In The “Locked Up” TikTok Trend, Creators Are Found Guilty

If you’ve been anywhere near TikTok the past week, the viral “Locked Up” TikTok trend has likely been all over your FYP. In the popular trend, creators use a police car filter with the song “Locked Up” by Akon to share what would happen if something they loved doing, or something they’ve done in the past, became illegal — and for legal reasons, this is, of course, a joke. I plead the fifth. 

I’ll give some personal examples, if I were to do this trend myself, to give you a sense of what this trend is all about — if, for instance, reheating my coffee five times a day became illegal, you definitely know where I’d be. Or, for example, if dressing like Matilda Djerf became illegal? Insert that police car filter, please, because she is the blueprint. 

While it’s a fun trend to use to be self-deprecating or poke fun at your silly qualities, it is important to address the fact that the trend also makes light of an important conversation in today’s climate regarding police interactions, especially with those in marginalized communities. In a 2019 study, researchers found that police violence is the leading cause of death for young men in the United States, and that the risk of police violence is highest for Black men. The study also found that Black and Indigenous American women and men are more likely to be killed by police compared to white women and men. As you engage in this trend and others, actively be mindful of the real-world impact of these types of moments as they exist beyond your phone screen.

With that in mind, read on to learn more about where the “Locked Up” TikTok trend originated and how to try it out yourself.

Where does the trending sound come from?

The sound was originally posted by user @coinyes on TikTok on April 19 and included a clip of Akon singing his song “Locked Up” acapella-style. The song was initially released back in 2004 in his album Trouble and quickly blew up, instantly being dubbed as a “breakout hit” for the young singer. 

In the video @coinyes posted, Akon sings, “I’m steady tryna find the motive / Why do what I do? / The freedom ain’t getting no closer (closer) / No matter how far I go.” According to Songfacts, the song is semi-autobiographical for Akon, who “spent three years in jail for car theft.” Akon explained, “Sitting there in jail, I thought, ‘Oh, my life can’t be like this. There’s got to be another way.’ You know what I’m saying? That’s when I even got the idea of making a record called ‘Locked Up,’ creating a new vision for the future, like, ‘When I get out, this is what I plan to do.’ It opened up doors for other things that I wanted to do. Music was relevant at that point. That’s when I knew exactly what time it was.”

In the “Locked Up” TikTok trend, creators are found guilty.

The trend gained momentum when singer and actress Hayley Kiyoko used the trending filter and sound, saying, “If drinking lemonade ever becomes illegal” and obviously referring to Lemonade Mouth. The video alone gained over one million likes, and other creators were quick to hop on the humorous trend.

Jersey Shore star @vinnyguadagnino posted another viral video doing the trend, saying, “if being the one who just reads the group chat but doesn’t respond becomes illegal” (sorry, but this is me). Creator @nopemisskeisha outwardly questioned her taste in men and said, “if dating ugly men becomes illegal,” while @ethen_lombardino said, “If being the funniest sibling becomes illegal.” (I wish I could say I’m the funniest sibling, but I’m definitely not.) 

Creators also began using their own pets in the viral trend, with @lilhankiedoodle posting their mini Goldendoodle Hank in the police car filter and saying, “If barking at every single thing becomes illegal.” User @stanleythestanman posted a video under the trending sound with their cat, saying, “If twerking was illegal,” alongside a clip of their cat Stanley — yes, you guessed it — twerking. And honestly? I don’t own any pets, but I had no idea that cats could twerk.

Trying the viral trend is easy.

To try the viral trend yourself, make sure to go under the trending sound and also use the police car filter, which was created by JPhant. Then, think of something that you love doing, or something that you’ve done in the past, and get to filming — keep it as broad or as niche as you want!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to go rewatch Lemonade Mouth. Thanks, Hayley Kiyoko.

Zoë is a writer and recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English. Formerly, she was an associate editor at Her Campus, where she covered Gen Z pop culture, beauty and style trends, and everything in between. When she's not writing or editing, Zoë can be found reading, sipping coffee, and exploring new places in California.