How to be a 44 year old white rapper
January 9, 2018 5:46 AM   Subscribe

After many drinks on New Years, my wife and her hater friends bet me $10 that I couldn't make a legitimate rap video. I am taking this bet very seriously. I don't need help creating the song or the video. What I need help with is making it go viral and making me at least $10 dollars.

I am looking for interesting and effective ways artists have promoted and monetized their art. Whether it was what they named themselves, the content of their music, their website features, their PR strategy, or the merchandise they created, I am interested in examples that I could use to win this bet.

Obviously playing up the fact that I am old, white, and bald may be a good angle to go with, but that seems trite. Maybe not. If you have a novel tactic I am all ears.

I don't have a problem throwing money at this problem to ultimately win this bet. If I get a ton of YouTube views, I can forever live in infamy amongst my wife and her Gucci Gang listening friends.
posted by jasondigitized to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You need to define what constitutes having the video go "viral". How many views do you need to have to win?

Also, this is harder than you think. What makes a video go viral is often incredibly random and difficult to predict. Honestly, I think your best way through is to capitalize on the fact that your wife bet you that you can't become a viral rapper. Have that be the subject of the rap. The white, old, and bald thing is kind of overdone and a bit blah, but the fact that your wife bet you that you couldn't be a viral youtube rapper? That's fucking gold. Have the video feature all the ways she underestimates you and your extreme dedication to proving you can achieve this ridiculous task.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:58 AM on January 9, 2018 [24 favorites]

That is good advice. What Puppet McSockerson said. The world isn't hungry for an ironic middle-aged white rapper, but if it's funny enough, listenable enough, and about a contest between wife and husband, you can probably at least use Facebook to get a few hundred views and maybe better by leveraging the "bet" story.
posted by Miko at 6:13 AM on January 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Other notes:
- Make sure you don't demean or insult your wife. This isn't about her being stupid. It is about how ridiculously dedicated you are to winning stupid bets, like this one.
- Make sure you also don't make it "dumb husbands" or anything like that. No putting groups of people down or engaging in any sort of stereotypes like that.
- Be very careful with racial stereotypes and rap video cliches. I'd say avoid them at all costs.
- Remember the social climate we are in, especially in terms of sexism. No objectification of women. That would only hurt your cause.
- Don't swear. Keep the video PG in order to maintain as wide of an audience as possible.
- Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" keeps coming to mind. Make sure you don't rehash too much of what he did.
- Really double down on the idea that you are ridiculously invested in winning stupid bets. Maybe have it be about how you've been waiting your whole life to be bet something truly stupid and your time has finally come to show people just how overboard you are willing to go to meet some ridiculous goal. Maybe invent some history of being "that guy who will take any bet", but it has been years since you were bet anything worthy of your efforts. This is about your strength of will, dedication, willingness to be embarrassed, etc.
- Make sure you point out that you don't bet money. This isn't about gambling. Money bets are for chumps. You do it all for the bragging rights. For the awesome stories you can tell during dinner parties.
- Maybe make it be about how you're a super normal guy who lives an incredibly normal life, but you love shocking/surprising people with the stories about the idiotic bets you have taken in your life. Maybe you always keep proof of your various bets on you at all times (pictures, newspaper clippings, etc).
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:16 AM on January 9, 2018 [28 favorites]

Best answer: Also, speaking as someone who gets ridiculously invested in stupid things like this, I am really REALLY willing to help you write your lyrics etc. I would love to help you with this. I would love to be able to say I played a part in this. And god damn it, I want to make this go viral!

Oh, and if you want to boost your possibility of going viral, consider monetizing the video and then committing to donating the proceeds (over the 10$ you need to make to win the bet) to some charity.

Maybe set up a go fund me for this that you link to in your video where people can fun your "rap career", but again, anything over and above the 10$ you need goes to charity.

I have a lot more ideas. Please message me!!!!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:19 AM on January 9, 2018 [9 favorites]

Please see this dad for inspiration.
posted by teststrip at 6:25 AM on January 9, 2018

Remember the 3 steps for successful middle-class white rapping success:
1. Stop.
2. Collaborate.
3. Listen.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:39 AM on January 9, 2018 [60 favorites]

I know you said you don’t need help making the song, but make sure you don’t phone in the beats, be willing to get help or buy tools if necessary.

It is possible to make a novelty rap song over a simple looped measure or two, but good production will help you here I think.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:41 AM on January 9, 2018

I think your rapper name needs to be #iwinbets
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:55 AM on January 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't think that the "White and Nerdy" tack is your best path to success in this case. I think that recording something entirely earnest and in keeping with current rap trends (if you can copy the Migos flow, by all means do), but just dressing in your regular dad clothes in the video, is much more likely to go viral.

The number one trick is going to be having a high production quality on your video and then music that is either very good or very bad.
posted by 256 at 6:57 AM on January 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: superfluousm.....I can actually rap. I played percussion in the symphony for 8 years and have been listening to hip hop since Dougie Fresh came out. This won't be a wack record I can promise you that.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:03 AM on January 9, 2018 [13 favorites]

Just one point of interest: Eminem is 45. Why not you?
posted by The Deej at 7:12 AM on January 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and while I think that "any possible way it could be offensive or interpreted uncharitably" is an impossibly high bar, I do agree that you need to be careful. Avoiding obvious racism and sexism is easy enough for a thinking person, but avoiding subtler racism/classism by making it look like you are uncharitably making fun of rap music as a genre is harder. It's possible, but it's a lot easier if you go into it with the serious intent of making a good song (whether you succeed or not) rather than a comedy track.

Thinking about this some more, the absolute best way forward might be to reach out to some young minor youtube stars who are actually in the rap scene, looking for a collaborator. Your pitch is certain to tickle the fancy of at least a few, plus it gives you an additional set of eyes/ears to make sure you're not being tone deaf as well as, critically, an existing platform to jump start the virality. And maybe a new friend! That's assuming of course that a collaboration would be considered a valid way of winning the bet.

In terms of the video, I do agree that it's more likely to go viral if the context of the bet is made clear, and not just in the YouTube description, but I would avoid writing the song about the bet itself. Instead, write the best rap song you can about something unrelated that you would want to write a song about, and then include the details of the bet in the video, possibly riffing on or borrowing from this great music video for Young Thug's Wyclef Jean.
posted by 256 at 7:12 AM on January 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

I can't stop thinking about this, so here's some more thoughts and videos.

For inspiration, I would rewatch Susan Boyle's original appearance on Britain's Got Talent. It's not hip hop, but you have access to the same things that made that go so viral, provided you're good enough. You need to give just enough lead-in for people to take in your look and style and start chuckling saying to themselves "oh, this is going to suck so hard it's great." And then you blow them out of the water with your skills from the first measure. Here's another from the Scandinavian version of Got Talent that is in fact a rap by a guy who looks more like a rapper than you will.

Maybe one of the best examples of a viral video right in your crosshairs is Dad Life. It got 13 million views mostly because their skills are at least not irredeemably terrible, their production value is high, and their outfits are hilarious. If you're a real musician, I think you can make a much hotter track than that, and I reiterate that it will be a lot cooler if it's not a parody song like theirs is.
posted by 256 at 7:38 AM on January 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

"Thinking about this some more, the absolute best way forward might be to reach out to some young minor youtube stars who are actually in the rap scene, looking for a collaborator."

I thought similarly -- if your city has a rap scene, maybe talk to a few rappers who are only known locally and see if a couple might want to do "guest verses" with you? You could do a workmanlike dad rap and then they could come in and demolish their guest verse and that would be pretty amusing and good publicity.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:48 AM on January 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

You might look at drewtoothpaste's CRUDBUMP stuff for garage-rap inspiration -- if doing a track with Kool Keith isn't success then I don't know what.

I think you only need 5000 views to make $10 gross, double that for net. Harder than it seems if you haven't been building a following. FWIW, the best performing video on my YT channel is a stupid GTA machinima. But you are looking to do a "legit" rap video, so, I guess Batman and Mario rapping to Crazy Frog beats won't do, even if it'd get a ton of likes.

I can actually rap. I played percussion in the symphony for 8 years and have been listening to hip hop since Dougie Fresh came out. This won't be a wack record I can promise you that.

I think you've got your first lyric right there!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:03 AM on January 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Make it as good as possible. Not as good as _you_ can, but as good as you plus a team of people who are at least as skilled and inspired as you can. Also, make it something you really care about.

People respond to that, and it's rare, so I think a video like that will naturally be shared everywhere.

Think about the things you love and have shared.
posted by amtho at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, make it good. Shitty parody rapping is a flooded market (not to mention, it's.... shitty). If you just make it good you have a way better chance of getting any interest. Your target market should be all the hiphop heads on the internet, not random middle aged white people that don't listen to rap but will like your thing because it's "not like most rap" or "they can relate to it".

Brian Imanuel (formerly Rich Chigga) is a good example of this working. He blew up off a beat that bangs, decent rapping, and a tongue-in-cheek, but not overly so, video. He doesn't side-step the outsider thing, but he doesn't rely on it as a gimmick beyond his outfit in the video. He was even smart enough to change his somewhat problematic name as he turned his success into a real career.

tldr don't make "haha i'm a dad rapping" rap. Make something earnest.
posted by so fucking future at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I would also disagree with all the suggestions to foremost avoid problematic content. It's important to be self-aware of your outsider status, but that's not at all the same as completely dodging the core of a provocative art form that is dripping with sex and bravado and poetry and inspiration and violence.
posted by so fucking future at 9:06 AM on January 9, 2018

what if you found a good local artist and got them viral famous on a video you produced for them?

or were the stipulations more stringent than 'make a viral rap video'? seems like you could sidestep a lot of work re: you doing your own rapping to focus more on the SEO portion while also pulling a pedantic one-up that's unimpeachable because you actually did a Good Thing (TM)
posted by runt at 9:08 AM on January 9, 2018

Best answer: Make sure when your virality campaign starts that you post it on Projects.
posted by Miko at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2018 [9 favorites]

1. Corgis
2. French bulldogs
3. Rap battle
4. ????
posted by drlith at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2018

If you really want this video to go viral, then you (no matter how much of the good advice above that you follow) are not enough. you have kids?

Can they play any instruments (even just simple percussion) on cue?

White balding middle-aged guy who actually doesn't suck at this PLUS charmingly involves a cute kid will vastly broaden the demographics of your potential link-clickers.
posted by desuetude at 11:36 AM on January 9, 2018

You could do worse than find inspiration in this video by the Monkey Sons.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:12 PM on January 9, 2018

In the Logan Paul FPP the other day someone linked to his brother's video. It's awful in many way, including the dance moves and hand gestures. I recommend watching it with the sound off and then don't do anything that he does. Make sure whatever choreography you have is authentic for you and your background, and isn't an embarrassing rip-off of black rappers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:14 PM on January 9, 2018

Best answer: I'm going to counter much of what was said here. There's WAY too much overemphasis on worrying about microaggressions. Iggy Azalea is basically doing blackface, and somehow that's socially acceptable.

You're not her, so dress, act and rap like you. As long as you don't try to look or sound like a negative black stereotype, you'll be fine. Look at the Beastie Boys or Doomtree.

Primarily, make the song and video good and focus on social media promotion as a way to win the bet.
posted by cnc at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: White balding guys doing rap parodies is so cliche that it's cringy. If you can actually rap then write a really good, genuine, unironic rap.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Re: Offensiveness, as someone who's studied this a little bit, if you can get to the point where some portion of the audience thinks it's obviously offensive, and a larger portion thinks it's obviously not, the resulting controversy will absolutely help it go viral. (That may not be the angle you're comfortable taking, but scrubbing things squeaky clean doesn't necessarily help you meet your goals.)
posted by phoenixy at 2:36 PM on January 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Spinach Dippa?
posted by smcameron at 7:54 PM on January 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

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