THE HEIR APPARENT

How Kylie Jenner Became the Savviest Kardashian

At 19, Kris Jenner’s youngest owns three houses, is the seventh most-followed person on Instagram, and rules a makeup empire. Meanwhile, two rappers are fighting for her attention.

In the words of Kylie Jenner, 2016 really was the year of realizing stuff. Of course, Jenner was probably just talking about learning basic facts. As one of two recent graduates of a Kris Jenner-orchestrated home school experience, Kylie’s education was likely limited to exactly what dosage of Xanax to slip into an anxious client/sister’s Smartwater. But Kylie’s apparent cry for a GED crash course became more and more prescient, with 2016 actually proving itself to be the year of realizing stuff—stuff like hope is dead, racism is alive and well, and none of this matters because we’re all going to be under water soon anyway. While Calabasas’s own Cassandra didn’t exactly predict political Armageddon, she’s still been vindicated. Meanwhile for 21 Savage, the Atlanta-based Drake protégé, this year’s revelation came when he realized that he is in love with Kylie Jenner.

21 Savage has been steadily coming for his crush throughout the month of November. While the rest of us were still emerging from our tryptophan comas, the rapper was weeks deep in a traditional courtship ritual, which includes posting about the object of your affection on Instagram, and also telling a TMZ cameraman about your plans to “tear that ass up.” Ah, young love. Unfortunately, the object of 21 Savage’s affection already has a rapper boyfriend: Tyga, the artist behind such hits as… well actually just “Rack City.” Like the rest of the world, 21 Savage has picked up on the fact that Tyga is mooching off his far more financially solvent girlfriend. Savage continued his offensive on Saturday, posting a picture of Kylie Jenner posing with a car on Instagram captioned “Shoutout to my boss bitches wifing niggas.” Anyone who’s familiar with Kyga knows all about Kylie’s penchant for buying luxury cars for her bankrupt boo. Of course, the comparison to Nicki Minaj is extremely flattering to Kylie—and less flattering to Tyga.

Tyga naturally responded with his own Instagram of him and Kylie in a Ferrari, accompanied by the Jay Z lyric: “Selling records being you, but still you want to be me.” As recently as Tuesday night, 21 Savage upped the ante by changing his Instagram avatar to a picture of Kylie Jenner, with his trademark dagger tattoo etched on her forehead. Because if there’s one way to impress a girl, it’s fluency in Adobe Photoshop.

But the best part of this feud by far was when Kylie decided to take a page from her older sister Kim’s playbook. Understandably skeeved out by a near-stranger talking about her ass on TMZ, Kylie settled things once and for all on the Kardashian’s favorite social media battleground: Snapchat. The youngest Jenner snapped a clip of Tyga freestyling over Savage’s “No Heart,” with the rapper going after 21 Savage with some real savagery, accusing him of “Sucking dick for a Ferrari.” Not one to be called a kept man, Tyga is clearly trying to flip that roast back on 21 Savage, who received a Ferrari from Drake for his 24th birthday.

At the end of the day, 21 Savage and Tyga have a lot in common—they’ve both been gifted cars by someone more talented and famous than they are, and they’re both in love with Kylie Jenner. And can you really blame them? In addition to predicting the general vibe of 2016, Jenner has also made this year her bitch. At 19 years old, she owns three houses, is the seventh most-followed person on Instagram, and has started a makeup empire. She also has the Kardashian gift for converting criticism and public shaming into piles of cold hard cash. Kim famously did this way back in 2007, riding a sex tape all the way to a full blown career. When social media savages mocked Kylie’s lip injections with the “Kylie Jenner lip challenge,” Jenner didn’t go on the defensive—or, god forbid, minimize her pout. Instead, she profited from her most polarizing feature with a line of wildly popular lip kits. It might just be drugstore lip liner at luxury brand prices, but the marketing was on point. Numerous magazine covers and photoshoots later, Jenner still has plenty to look forward to in 2016. She’s debuting a California pop-up shop on Dec. 9, with promises of brand new, exclusive Kylie Jenner merchandise. All in all, Kris’s youngest daughter is attacking life with the enthusiasm of someone who knows she’ll be suffocated to death by her own waist trainer before she turns 30.

Snapchat savvy aside, it’s become increasingly clear that Kylie Jenner is the heir to Kim Kardashian’s Perspex throne. With Kim opting for a quieter life post-Paris heist, it’s up to Kylie to ensure that young women across the world have a near-impossible hip-to-waist ratio to aspire to. The similarities between Kim and Kylie are endless. Like Kim, Kylie knows how to use the gifts that puberty/plastic surgery have given her. She’s also a tech-savvy entrepreneur with a rapper boyfriend, a killer social media following, and a passion for Yeezy Season. Kylie seems to have a sixth sense about what to sell her fans, and knows exactly what they want before they want it: whether that’s a lip kit that makes your mouth look as matte black as her Hummer or a looks-for-less PacSun line. This year, Kylie’s boyfriend’s baby mama gave birth to her half-brother’s baby—a fairly debilitating personal setback for any other 19-year-old—and Kylie still had her best year ever. It’s that same kind of tenacity and fortitude that made Kim Kardashian such an unlikely feminist hero.

Even more impressively, Kylie actually had to fight for her spot in the family’s fame rankings. As a legitimate supermodel, Kendall Jenner ought to have been a shoo-in for most influential Jenner sister. Luckily for Kylie, Kendall is less exciting than a kale salad from Calabasas’s Health Nut. Kylie’s fun personality and actually real-seeming relationships made her an instant hit on KUWTK, in contrast to the comparatively reserved Kendall. While Kendall toils away on her various campaigns, runways, and photoshoots, Kylie is left to do the real work of being a Kardashian—preserving her brand, boosting her social media following, and making tons of money.

Of course, you’re not a real Kardashian until you’ve turned off about half your fan base. Kylie Jenner has made some controversial decisions, from dating Tyga when she was still a minor to engaging in some pretty consistent cultural appropriation. Unfortunately, Kylie seems just as likely to quit Tyga as she is to quit her cornrows. Whether or not you endorse Kylie Jenner, her influence is undeniable. From head-to-toe latex to PartyNextDoor to $2.99-a-month subscription apps, she was ahead of almost every trend in 2016. But of all the things Kylie realized this year, the most important one was that she can do—and sell—just about anything she puts her mind to.