For many people, the first time we discovered YouTube celebrity Jake Paul was when a local news clip of him went viral. In the clip, he could be seen unapologetically raising hell in his Los Angeles mansion, gloating how bad he was making his neighbors’ lives while whipping fans into a frenzy and attempting to scale the news van. He came across as thoroughly reprehensible, a preening bully stuffed full of cash and set sans supervision onto a world disturbingly ready for his brand of shitty, sub-Jackass “mayhem.” Also, we learned that he calls his fans “Jake Paulers,” which is a very bad nickname for a subculture.
Shortly afterward, he announced via Apple Notes screenshot that he was leaving Disney to focus on his (shiver) “brand,” which we might’ve expected to mean building his social following, trying to line up a Doritos endorsement deal, and eventually being arrested for cocaine possession. However, he has fast-tracked directly to the “flameout” portion of the story, instead getting in beefs with other YouTube stars and rapper Post Malone and posting a video making racist jokes to a fan from Kazakhstan. “It sounds like you’re just going to blow someone up,” he says. “Send the nuke!”
And yet none of that could’ve prepared us for this, his new rap video, which he calls a “diss track” and then claims is not a diss track. It is his greatest crime against humanity yet:
Tonally, he appears to be aiming for a sort of post-Future bleat, alternately crooning and hollering via warbly autotune, all over a store-bought beat. In the video, he prances around in a grocery store after-hours and malingers in a sports car.
But mostly, it’s the lyrics here that cement Paul’s status as world’s worst human, a fact he counteracts by listing every good thing he’s ever done that was not covered by the news. Yes, fourth estate, where were you when this YouTube star was emailing depressed fans, or “whippin’ up meals on Thanksgiving,” or, um, not talking shit about Selena Gomez? He adopts a clipped, marble-mouthed cadence, presumably in impersonation of the Atlanta rappers he’s attempting to emulate, claiming for himself an end-of-Scarface paranoia about how the news is out to get him. It’s self-victimizing whininess mixed with braggadocio, which is a perfect representation of the ambient temperature of American culture in 2017. He appears unable to imagine a cosmos that exists outside of himself, “the haters,” and social media.
Anyway, to be clear, participating in several charitable events or even voluntarily doing kind things on occasion does not fundamentally counteract being an awful person; these things can exist side by side in the fullness of a person’s character. However, creating a rap track laundry-listing all of those large-hearted actions does counteract them, making them seem less like Christian acts of good will and more like isolated events that Paul marked in a ledger as if in preparation for the point at which he’d be forced to publicly reckon for his awful, proud, privileged existence. It is impossible to guess how many good deeds he will now have to do to counteract the nefariousness of releasing a piece of music like this into the world, but rest assured, if he attempts them, we will eventually hear about it from him. Why else would you do something good in the first place?