Trolling is a side effect of the digital age, but has it seeped into our culture as well?
When Smokepurpp was asked about the”F*ck J.Cole” chorus that erupted at his show and the one-sided beef with the prolific rapper he replied: “Nowadays everything is kind of a troll, so people do know that [Lil Pump’s ‘f**k J. Cole’ tweets] it’s trolling.”
In some way, shape, or form modern society has accepted the troll – we’ve let them flood our social media pages, we look forward to celebrity “clap backs”, and we even have one in The White House parading as a President. But did we also let it become a new music genre?
The Godfather of Troll Music
In 2003, William Hung auditioned for the third season of American Idol in San Francisco. Despite being ridiculed by the judges, Hung maintained a positive attitude and the confidence paid off. His off-beat dance moves and less than impressive vocals earned him a cult following. After his performance went viral, William Hung was offered a $25,000 advance on a record deal from Koch Entertainment in 2004, and released three albums. As part of the promotional tour for his first album, Inspiration, Hung performed “She Bangs” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Despite the album’s highly negative reviews, it went on to sell about 200,000 copies and reached Number One on Billboard’s Top Independent Album Chart.
The Next Iteration
And then there was “Chocolate Rain”. The official music video was uploaded on April 22, 2007 to Tay Zonday‘s YouTube channel. The video shows Zonday in a recording studio wearing a white T-shirt and singing about “Chocolate Rain” into a microphone. The real MVP of the video is the caption – “**I move away from the mic to breathe in” – which spawned an onslaught of memes.
After going viral, “Chocolate Rain” was reviewed by The Sun and The Daily Telegraph, and Zonday was interviewed by The Opie and Anthony Show, BET, Vice and many more thereafter. A decade later, Zonday is still reaping the rewards of his troll success and has even landed gigs as a Cartoon Network voice actor.
The Final Evolution
My brother is always trying to get me to watch an IceJJfish video, read one of his tweets or check out his Instagram posts. Its one of our many ongoing jokes/pranks, where the goal is to make me live through a cringe-worthy experience. I dare you to watch the below video in its entirety. I honestly couldn’t get past the 0:22 mark. Also, what happened to ol’ girl featured in this mess? Tell her to email me (info[at]dyynamics[dot]com) for the “Where Are They Now” interview.
IceJJFish’s “On The Floor” has not only reached over 65 million views on YouTube it is allegedly certified platinum. And this may have been the kind of validation that gave rise to “troll music”.
In December of 2017, IceJJFish threw shots at Lil Yachty on Twitter for biting his style.
“Nigga lil yatchy make music with high pitch voice and yall don’t clown him? But when I do it I get all the yap in the world. U can’t just do that dude. The man took my whole sound”
— Daniel Mcloyd (@IceJJFish) December 26, 2017
I honestly don’t listen to enough Yachty or Fish to comment on the validity of this statement. Still, based on admissions from the likes of Smokepurpp on “trolling” as a modern day marketing strategy, how much of a reach is it to claim that they are therefore inspired by troll music? In a day and age where views trump talent or merit, how much trolling are we folding into our culture?
I hate to sound like an old head, but how has a Lil’ Pump, XXTentacion, Tekashi 6ix9ine or any of these face-tatted, colorful hair rappers contributed to the advancement of music. Are we letting our so bad it’s good sympathy for the Hung’s of the world trickle into making a lane for these kinds of musicians?