The early days of the internet were a fascinating time. Before the giants consolidated their power and the gates were closed the World Wide Web felt like it was a place with a few more W’s than it has now. Strange, innovative characters roamed the landscape of the World Wide Wild West Web. Flash animations went to surreal, irreverent places. Restless creativity was in abundance. One of the future gate-keeping titans of the web, YouTube, launched properly at the end of 2005, and one of its biggest early hits came just over a year later in April of 2007 when a YouTuber by the name of Tay Zonday released a video of him performing his song, ‘Chocolate Rain’. You can see why the video had so much of what these days we call viral potential. It’s a perfect storm of factors that intrigue, amuse, and call for repeat viewings: The simplicity of it; the juxtaposition of Tay’s youthful looks and deep, dramatic voice; his idiosyncratic delivery; and the apocalyptic imagery in the lyrics glimpsed in between the almost religiously intoned refrain. Truth be told it’s a banger. It was a banger then and it’s a banger now.
Tay made no secret of the fact that ‘Chocolate Rain’ was written as a metaphor for the institutional racism suffered by African-Americans in the U.S. The lyrics in between that meme-ready refrain made this pretty clear to those who would look beyond the surface:
Chocolate Rain Some stay dry and others feel the pain
A baby born will die before the sin
Chocolate Rain Build a tent and say the world is dry
Zoom the camera out and see the lie
Seldom mentioned on the radio
It’s the fear your leaders call control
Unlike many other early internet stars, Tay is still very much around. I stumbled upon his Twitter feed the other day. And you know what?
It’s fantastic. Insightful, philosophical, and impassioned, Tay’s Twitter feed taps deftly into the manufactured malaise of the modern day, and I for one am hooked.
Being poor now just leads to being more poor later. Can't pay to clean your teeth? Next year, pay for a root canal. Can't pay for a new mattress? Next year, pay for back surgery. Can't pay to get that lump checked out? Next year, pay for stage 3 cancer. Poverty charges interest.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) July 19, 2018
I am massively over-stimulated all the time. Remember how the optometrist dilates your eyes for an exam and then daylight is too bright? That's how the world is for my brain. Instead of squinting and grabbing objects to orient myself, I pause to sort through simultaneous thought.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) November 3, 2018
I am a Bluetooth device stuck in 1880 and streaming the most beautiful sounds imaginable — but I'm 125 years too early for the masses to receive me. So they just pick me up and go "This is strange. It's cold and blinking. What an unusual novelty!" Then they throw me in a drawer.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 13, 2018
Humanity is a nonstop exorcism where young people need to exorcise old people from the body of society — and old people cling as hard as they can because power and influence is the world's only apology for not being young. Each generation of youth breaks the spell that binds us.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) November 3, 2018
Do you ever sit inside and imagine Google maps zooming out from the top of your head, through the ceiling, through the clouds, out into space, out from our solar system, out from our arm of the galaxy, out from our local group of galaxies, to the edge of observable space-time?— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 31, 2018
As YOU imagine a camera zooming up from YOUR head on Earth to the galaxy and universe — how many aliens are on THEIR planets imagining a camera zooming up from THEIR heads? What if your imaginations could meet and talk? "There's methane on your planet? I'd die! Mine is water!"— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 31, 2018
People with mind-numbingly boring government jobs — showing up to work every day and doing repetitive things in a system you're powerless to leave a mark on — all for a modest pension and 401k? God bless you! You did life right. I'd tell child me to be you, and not Tay Zonday.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 29, 2018
Hey — everybody who has beliefs! We all need to take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Recite these words: "I will not be so hyper-vigilant about my beliefs that I succumb to a 1950s-style 'Red scare' where I villainize allies and vindicate foes based on feelings over analysis."— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) November 10, 2018
Is it fair criticism for me to say that most actors in @CW_Riverdale are abnormally tall, thin, or muscular compared to the general population? Is something wrong with average-looking people? Average-looking people clearly watch. Why not watch content that glorifies how you look?— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 13, 2018
When you have a kid, you bend over backwards to work with their imperfections and get the best human being out of them. Why don't we do this with strangers? Why don't we do this with everyone? We are so impatient. We are so dismissive. We're not Gods but we swipe left on souls.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) November 4, 2018
Nation states arose 10,000 years ago due to job specialization enabled by agricultural surplus. The past decade has seen media and physical product specialization powered by AI and data surplus, decreasing the organic conciliation of culture and its requisite intellectual rigor. https://t.co/OPjFaqaalx— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) November 4, 2018
Thinking has become like nudity in 2018! Regardless of your idea or position — you'd better not hesitate, take time to process, openly contemplate or acknowledge various angles to arrive at a nuanced conclusion! You START with a conclusion and add thought privately once you win!— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 26, 2018
Emotion is terrifying now. Because we no longer have moments. We only have forevers. Every moment is in danger of becoming a forever. Our machines retain everything — except for context, purpose and struggle. But these things are the alibis that take us from caricature to soul.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) August 10, 2018
I WANT to understand everybody. Not so I can agree with them, but so I can EXPERIENCE them. Some people travel to Paris and Taipei. I want to travel to Bob; to Susan; to Darius; to Vivian. I want to make every stranger a souvenir on my passport of living. It hurts when they don't— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) August 25, 2018
I really liked @boburnham 's @eighthgrademov . It does three things most Hollywood teen movies avoid:— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) August 11, 2018
1) Cast age-appropriately
2) Write to characters' highest intelligence.
3) Allow moral gray space.
The @MPAA 's R-rating is a bizarre misfire and out-of-touch with 2018.
You woke up today! That energy once existed as gravity attracting elemental dust together to make the Sun. Since then, it's been one atom bumping into another. You're like an energy penitentiary. Energy is transiently locked up in you. Be a good warden. Treat energy with justice.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 2, 2018
I'm always scared that people will see one piece of me and assume it speaks for the rest. But you can't land in the Sahara Desert and know the whole Earth. Just because you see my Antarctica doesn't mean I have no Bahamas. Sometimes you need to find my paradise like Magellan.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) September 4, 2018
We owe our lives to Jupiter. Jupiter keeps a lot of big asteroids from hitting Earth. Jupiter is like government: it's big, cold, gassy and distant, yet its main value is to keep us from being destroyed. Like government, it failed to do this at decisive turns in Earth's history.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 2, 2018
American real-estate prospers due to uncapped foreign investment, uncapped domestic divestment, closed-market bidding, exotic debt financing, and unaccountable county/municipal politics, causing an impetus to "buy" one's way out of bad policy onto a shrinking island of normalcy. https://t.co/RSYIYzaqJ9— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) November 4, 2018
The rules of the game were changed by the victors. When Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc. were up-and-coming, they had to allow a lot of random and inconsistent (read: human) content to get high engagement. Now they limit engagement to cherry-pick user behaviors that benefit them. https://t.co/y12SnjN0bu— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) September 25, 2018
The vast majority of people do everything right but can't earn enough money to secure basic life needs. They get belittled, trivialized, blamed and ignored by the tiny minority for whom the world works out. Division tricks the majority into believing its own powerlessness.— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) September 20, 2018
Galileo never lived to see humans agree that Earth orbits the sun. This obvious truth broke the backbone of political power and authority in his time. We have too many Galileos in 2018. They deserve vindication today. We don't have a century to wait for the oppressors to go "oh."— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) October 4, 2018
And this—this right here is the absolute tits:
Thanks for your stories and kind words. For those interested, I wrote a song explaining the economy ("Mama Economy" — also on Spotify/Itunes etc.) https://t.co/tyudx4phUa . I'm also launching a podcast soon with a focus on social media — @chocolatepains— Tay Zonday (@TayZonday) July 20, 2018
When the Revolution comes I’m all in for Tay Zonday writing our anthem.
Header Image Source: Twitter