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YouTube is a drama minefield and a drama gold mine. The viral and collaborative nature of the platforms lends itself to a defining battle format: YouTube diss tracks. Reminiscent of a rap battle, but with a lot more online interaction, YouTube diss tracks were a formative part of internet history.
Internet Fame & Feuds
In 2018, ex-friends and YouTubers Tana Mongeau and James Charles made a video discussing all of their scandals. The video performed extremely well, amassing over five million views, and, like the title suggests, Tana Mongeau and James Charles discuss their previous scandals and how their careers would likely be in a different trajectory had they not been involved in such controversy.
In the video, James Charles defiantly rejects the notion that content creators and influencers are not famous and have no true influence. He definitively asserts that “the job that we have is fame… it’s the same job as a celebrity in the sense that [influencers] have a lot of fans and [influencers] make a decent income.”
Influencers are certainly the celebrities of Gen Z, and in 2022 the names of Addison Rae and Emma Chamberlain rack in more attention and engagement than movie stars may. In essence, the job of influencers is fame, and with fame comes gossip.
Even still, gossip suggests something that all influencers are very much aware of: relevance. Names in the tabloids and news stories of drama between influencers being picked up by major articles highlight the clout and reach of an influencer’s celebrity. An old trick to continue the wave of relevance is by creating and maintaining feuds.
Read more about influencer impact in this article.
Feuds among celebrities are nothing new. We’ve seen it between Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, and Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Although the conversation likely brought more harm than good to each celebrity, it certainly maintained their names at the forefront. Cut to 2016 on YouTube: the golden era of constant content. YouTube was experiencing a plethora of new creators and a brand new niche of content: diss tracks on YouTube.
Diss Tracks & the Pervasive Petulance of Drama
The era of diss tracks on YouTube is inextricably linked to online feuds and drama among YouTubers. Though fabrication played its part, many YouTubers became embroiled in real beef with one another. They would tweet aggressive tweets at each other on Twitter, or even make dedicated vlogs and videos on their channels about one another.
Each YouTuber’s respective fandoms would attack one another on social media, and the result was a collective boost of both of their presences online. Therefore, many questioned the legitimacy of the feuds, and it was believed that much of the fight was simply a fabrication for publicity. However, much of the drama was real, as well as its consequences for subsequent influencers.
It is not an exaggeration to declare Ricegum as the creator of YouTube diss tracks. In the mid-2010s, Ricegum’s YouTube channel was one of the fastest-growing YouTube channels on the platform.
Ricegum, whose real name is Bryan Le, began his journey on YouTube with gaming videos and simple vlogs. Though his channel is at a standstill now, Ricegum still maintains over 10 million subscribers with over 2.1 billion views. His most recent video, called “My Ex-Girlfriend Called Me… (We Picked up)”, received over 3 million views despite inconsistent uploads.
In his heyday, Ricegum was uploading consistently and received over a million views per video. Ricegum became known for his series of ‘These Kids Must Be Stopped’ and ‘Roasting…’ .
In the video series, “These Kids Must Be Stopped”, Ricegum would watch and discuss clips of videos from musical.ly. At times, the clips would feature musical.ly stars Jacob Sartorius or Baby Ariel. Eventually, it evolved into Ricegum creating dedicated videos to roast the kids individually.
Other times, Ricegum would simply make dedicated videos and roast internet personalities. One of his most popular diss tracks has over 15 million views. The videos garnered Ricegum a huge following, and his fanbase was mostly comprised of children interested in the life of a YouTuber gaining fame off of diss tracks. Ricegum was an established YouTuber in his own right, and his presence on YouTube was just beginning.
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Team 10 & Clout Gang: The Lengths for Fame
In 2017 Alissa Violet posted her long-awaited video titled, “What you’ve been waiting for” onto her YouTube channel for all her 3.6 million subscribers to see. The result was a view count of over 25 million, and it is her most popular video to date.
In the vlog, Alissa details her drama with Team 10 leader Jake Paul and outlines the entirety of their friendship to relationship to their eventual falling out. She then reveals she has been collaborating with fellow YouTuber Ricegum to make a song as a counter to Jake Paul’s song and music video, “Jake Paul – It’s Everyday Bro (Song) feat. Team 10 (Official Music Video)”.
Jake Paul, a previous daily vlogger on YouTube now turned boxer, was constantly involved in drama in 2017. He released his song “It’s Everyday Bro” with his group of YouTube friends, Team 10. The music video was released in 2017, and it garnered nearly 300 million views. The song was believed to be a diss track aimed at Alissa Violet who was recently ousted by the group, following the trends of diss tracks on YouTube during this period.
Ricegum and Alissa Violet collaborated later that year with a response song and music video. The music video was uploaded onto Ricegum’s channel, receiving over 197 million views.
The public opinion was split between the two sides, but one thing was clear: people could not get enough of the drama. All three influencers: Jake Paul, Alissa Violet, and Ricegum had officially participated in the trend of YouTube diss tracks, and their social blade was improving as a result.
Alissa Violet eventually went on to develop an influencer and YouTube group of her own called Clout Gang that included Sommer Ray, Faze Banks, Ricegum, and other influencers, effectively rivaling Jake Paul’s Team 10.
Enjoy reading about internet history like YouTube diss tracks? Check out our article on YouTube apologies here.
The diss tracks between the groups died down, however, it definitely marked an era on YouTube that was completely engrossed by drama. The audiences simply could not get enough of the back and forth between the two sides. The era of diss tracks and drama on YouTube demonstrates the fraught relationship that helps influencers build their careers and the resentment that brews. It also demonstrates how audiences can become so engaged in drama. Everyone loves a good show, no matter how messy it may be.