The internet can make anyone famous. Where would Kim Kardashian be without her grainy “home video” set in a dimly-lit hotel room? Well, she’d probably still be in the limelight for other commendable means that would delight her late father, but her “indie” flick undoubtedly supplemented her rise.
While the internet alone has solidified countless careers, its marriage with social media has compounded its ability to establish talentless individuals’ fame. Of course, we’ve got that dude Tai Lopez who hijacks our YouTube pre-roll ads, informing us about his infinite knowledge and keys to “the good life.” (Guys, it only takes 67-steps!) But it’s most recent “success story” is the man Charlamagne Tha God has appropriately dubbed, “52 Savage.”
Believe me, I get that trap music’s current wave is an injection of dopamine to the brain. The addicting sonics hypnotize its listeners like snake charmers. My initial resistance to the Hip Hop sub-genre has been massaged into an appreciation, and a music library filled with Young Thug, Migos, Gucci, Future, and other trap gods. (But not Lil Uzi Vert—fuck Lil Uzi Vert.) However, what my library doesn’t have is any of the recent freestyles from the Dallas-based DJ, DJ Swade AKA 52 Savage.
The geriatric spinner started gaining attention when Power 105’s polarizing personality, Charlamagne Tha God, began reposting the elder’s freestyles about one-week ago. In a brutally honest IG caption warning young trappers to curtail their lifestyles for fear of turning into 52 Savage, Charlamagne astutely stated, “See this what I’m talking about. Trap niggas going to get old bruh, the only other alternative is death but if you don’t want to die you just gotta prepare yourself mentally to embarrass the shit out of your grown ass kids in the 2030s.” Well said, Charlamagne.
Consistent with conventional patriarchs, my father enjoyed embarrassing me as a kid. I vividly remember going sneaker shopping together in 7th grade; my eyes were drawn to a fresh pair of Jordans—and the cute blonde girl beside them trying on Converse. Anxiety coated my palms with sweat, but I was intent on introducing myself. Who needs confidence though when pops can subtly break the ice? While pointing at her, he loudly said, “Hey Zach, you gonna go talk to that girl over there?” My face went redder than the Converse she was trying on. But that was the extent of him embarrassing me. I can only imagine the horror 52 Savage’s kids experience watching their father attempt to enter a market dominated by teenagers and 20-somethings. That’s like watching your middle-aged dad trying to score a prom date. “Damn, there’s a lot of talent this year at Jefferson High!”
His fame-catapulting freestyle opens with 52 saying “where” about 52 times as he stunts in selfie mode, revealing his icy neck composed of Cuban links that resemble intertwined oversized soda can tabs, a confused hairstyle that tries to bridge the glorious 80s Jerry curl with a receding hairline, and the opposite of a shiny grill (I think he only has two teeth). I can imagine him being inspired by J. Cole’s “Crooked Smile.” His whole aesthetic is reminiscent of those old Master Card commercials: Fake Cuban links? $50. Jerry curl cream? $6. That moment when you realize you’re anchored to a liquid-based diet for the remainder of your life? Priceless.
In keeping with his first viral freestyle, the successive ones feature an unintelligible rhetoric conveyed by a whiny flow that is indistinguishable from a dog’s whimper—he might be whimpering for someone to put him out of his misery. They say good music should evoke an emotional response from its listeners. 52 has been taking notes. His raps elicit a combination of laughter (at him), sadness (for his kids and the Hip Hop community), revelations (is this what Quavo is going to turn into?!), and confusion (who’s mans is this?!).
In all honesty though, take away 35-years and DJ Swade might’ve had a chance as a rapper—his bars are pretty consistent with most of today’s trap music. But, here’s the reality: he’s a middle-aged man co-opting a style bred by kids. What’s next? Is he going to audition for a Welch’s juice commercial? Maybe get his kicks from Foot Locker Kids? Exclusively order off the children’s menu at his favorite diner while he draws on the menu with crayons? Trap is supposed to get listeners hyped, not depress them by looking into their potentially bleak future. Well, maybe 52 Savage is providing a much needed PSA to kids who think they can trap forever. Maybe, just maybe, he’s the trap equivalent to Smoky The Bear.
One of the funniest aspects from this quickly fleeting internet stardom is his misunderstanding that most people aren’t laughing with him. Here are some choice IG comments from the first freestyle: “I didn’t know Ron Isley had a cousin that rap”; “Dat nigga chew rocks like beef jerky”; “Smh he needs a go fund me for his teeth”; “He look like a old ass ugly God”; “I’m mad I actually pictured him gumming and fumbling with a full ass corn cob. Like a teeth toddler lmao.”
Am I being unfairly harsh to our friend 52 Savage? Probably. Do his freestyles make him an easy target? Definitely. Sure, it’s inspiring to witness ultimate perseverance, and someone’s inability to understand the words “stop” and “don’t”—his dreams have more legs than a centipede. But, as DJ Swade continues to plummet into his mid-life crisis, we can only hope that his trap dreams lose their legs before his remaining teeth. It’s going to be a nail biter.