When Jake Paul released the music video for his breakout song, "It's Everyday Bro," in May 2017, it rapidly became one of the most disliked videos on the platform. Now, his biggest rival on YouTube, RiceGum, has become a platinum recording artist for his Jake Paul diss track "It's Everynight Sis."
The song, which features Paul's ex-girlfriend, YouTuber Alissa Violet, calls out Paul's history of bullying and implies that his riches might be fake. Prior to the track, RiceGum and Paul frequently feuded on Twitter and negged each other in videos.
"Tupac and Biggie are watching this fake YouTube rap beef and wishing they could die all over again," one YouTube commentator said.
But for those who are crying 'fake', RiceGum has some words.
"Probably all of my feuds are real," RiceGum told The Daily Beast. But what they don't realize, he explains, is that it's all part of a broader strategy.
Inciting drama is key to juicing views on YouTube and when it comes to starting beef with fellow members of the community, both RiceGum and Paul are old hands. RiceGum has previously feuded with "Cash me outside" girl turned rapper Danielle Bregoli, and longtime YouTuber iDubbz. Jake Paul has feuded with a slew of other high-profile YouTubers as well, including his own brother.
"When the song went platinum I was astounded because I've never seen a diss track rise so fast on the charts," said Youssef, founder of Syft, the label that produced the track. "Drake's diss track didn't even go platinum, so it's rewarding to see. Diss tracks and drama are key to growth and engagement on YouTube especially in terms of sharing and virality. I knew when I heard the song that it would be a success, when I saw the video which helped drive a massive amount of downloads and streams and was shared all over the web."
Starting a feud with a YouTube rival doesn't mean the two YouTubers hate each other. In fact, it can sometimes even be deemed as a sign of respect. That someone would take time to acknowledge you on their channel means you're inherently relevant enough to respond to.
"People think I'm the bad guy," RiceGum said. "But how it works is a person on the internet is someone will say something about me, whether it's a full video of them clowning me, or just one comment. I will see if they have a lot of following where it would make sense to take time out of my day to acknowledge them. From there I make a video or a song of some sort."
"After I drop that video it's over with," he added. "I don't wish anything bad about anyone. I'm here trying to make videos to get views up and viewers like to watch this type of thing. If no one enjoyed this content I wouldn't make it. Long-term drama doesn't do anything for your channel, but it just so happens if there's a scandal under your name more people are likely to check you out."
RiceGum knows a thing about what works well on the internet. He spends several hours a day holed up in the L.A. mansion where he lives with his closest friends (also fellow YouTubers), surfing the web and monitoring what's trending or popping off in pop culture.
His skill at capitalizing on these trends has helped grow his channel to over 10 million subscribers and push into the mainstream. In January, RiceGum starred in his first Super Bowl commercial and he hopes to move further into acting and music.
It's a far cry from what he thought he'd become. Growing up in Las Vegas, RiceGum said he played hours and hours of basketball, hoping to one day turn it into a full-time career. When he realized he wasn't good enough to make it into any big leagues, he turned to YouTube.
An avid gamer, he began uploading Call of Duty videos to YouTube in 2012. From there, his popularity eventually took off. He produced one series of popular videos titled "These Kids Must Be Stopped," where he called out cheesy young Musical.ly and social media stars and mocked their content.
A big part of RiceGum's brand more recently has become tied to fashion and style. The YouTuber is known for his lavish lifestyle and top-tier wardrobe. However, RiceGum said that for the most part, that's all for the camera.
"People think all I wear is nice clothes and when I'm home I'm wearing really nice clothes, but it's really just for the camera," he said. "I want to look as cool as possible on the camera. That's what I do. People mistake it for me being cocky and always trying to show off my clothes, but I'm just trying to look best on camera. Off camera if I'm going out somewhere I'll be flexing, but just at home or grabbing food, I'm wearing a white T shirt with some really cheap pants and flip flops."
The life of a YouTuber can be grueling and RiceGum says he puts in hours of work shooting and editing his videos and coming up with new ideas. He checks feedback relentlessly by keeping on top of comments and responses. All of this, he hopes, will help him continue to grow and branch out.
"Every day my main goal is just trying to grow my brand," he said. "Whether in the next five years if acting or music can help me grow, then I'm open. The acting scene is super intriguing, I may dabble. I'm a platinum recording artist now, it's doesn't seem that way, but wherever life takes me in the next 5 years then shit, I'll be there."