Rappers Find Popularity Through Vines

Editor’s note: The following article includes vulgarity. The use of hip-hop songs in vines has become a trend both in hip-hop and social media. Vines ...

Dec 13, 2014

Editor’s note: The following article includes vulgarity.
The use of hip-hop songs in vines has become a trend both in hip-hop and social media. Vines themselves, short videos of around seven seconds of length, already had become part of the social media landscape. They plug into Twitter and spawn YouTube channels dedicated to curating compilations of the funniest vines, or in this case, vines that follow specific trends. The exposure that artists, the genre and the various sounds they represent used in these videos receive has proven to be complicated.
The vines follow a relatively standard theme that is already well known in humor influenced by hip-hop. Most of them employ the songs and their lyrics in situations removed from what they initially describe, finding humor in the disconnect.
For example, the refrain from OG Maco’s “U Guessed It”, “Bitch, you guessed it! You was right,” has become a meme in itself thanks to vines. One recurring trope of vines using this song demonstrates how this humor is created. A teacher will ask a question, which a student then answers, leading to the teacher to lip synch the phrase as the song plays in the background.
The ironic use of U.S. African American Vernacular English, or AAVE, and rap music, considered to be low culture by some, in a situation in which it would not be intuitively present, is nothing new to comedy influenced by hip-hop and could be read as racist. In the vines that mock Young Thug’s chorus on“Lifestyle,” the majority of the comedy and derision center on the incomprehensible nature of his pronunciation. Even though he does bend the words beyond what would be considered standard in Southern American English or AAVE, this is an artistic choice is ignored.
Because of this, it is possible that OG Maco, as an experimental artist like Young Thug — both of whom represent some of the best things about the New Atlanta sound — is being drowned out by the people willing to ape him via Vine in a manner that frequently peddles in racist tropes, without considering the broader context of his artistic goals.
As noted in an interview with Rolling Stone, OG Maco does not seem to be bothered by the use of his music in vines, listing his favorite parody as the “Hump Day Camel.” Much of the exposure that artists like OG Maco have received are a direct consequence of vines causing the songs to go viral: His song currently has well over 14 million views on YouTube. Artists like O.T. Genasis and Bobby Shmurda both received major boosts from the circulation of their songs in vines and compilations.
More recently, O.T. Genasis has come under fire in the hip-hop community for a perceived lack of authenticity. This relates back to the larger trend and its implications for hip-hop.  When the use of the music in vines allows for such massive exposure, it both opens the music up to more listeners, critics and comedians, but also changes the way rappers market themselves. Just as the early part of the 2000s brought ringtone rap and subsequent one-hit wonders, and some who went beyond cellular devices, Vine has become a medium that currently obscures and exposes the music, and soon may dictate taste.
Sam Ball is opinion editor. Email him at
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