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Is Jake Paul a Social Media Genius or a Jerk?

Because it really is every day, bro — to cite Mr. Paul’s mantra. It has been for more than 335 straight days and counting.

That is why Mr. Paul decided one day in May, on a whim, to transform himself into a rapper. “I woke up, and I was like, ‘What if I make a song today, and make a music video for it, all in one day’” he said.

As Mr. Paul tells the story, he spent a few hours tracking down a producer and booking a studio, maybe 30 minutes scribbling out some rhymes for himself and his crew, and another few hours to record the track. That afternoon, Mr. Paul secured a glassy hilltop mansion in Coldwater Canyon as a location to shoot the video (it seemed like the perfect parody location of a cliché hip-hop video, he said) and rustled up a white Lamborghini as a prop.

“To me, the whole thing was a joke,” he said. “I was like, I’m going to morph into a rapper and just go for it, 100 percent.”

Flexing like a “Friday Night Lights” extra and grabbing his crotch like LL Cool J circa 1987, Mr. Paul threw himself into the role, rapping: “It’s everyday, bro, with the Disney Channel flow, 5 mil on YouTube in six months, never done before.”

One of Mr. Paul’s rap videos. Video by Jake Paul

No one was going to confuse it for Kendrick Lamar. But the pre-tweens of the Jake Paul Army scarcely cared.


Mr. Paul throws a water ballon at Mr. Tepper’s face. Credit Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Released on May 30, “It’s Everyday Bro” shot to No. 2 on iTunes. Three months later, the video has been viewed more than 115 million times on YouTube. At a recent live performance, Mr. Paul rapped the first line, then held the microphone toward the audience. The crowd of 12,000 finished the song a cappella. “They knew every word,” Mr. Paul said in astonishment, “even the Martinez’s twins’ lines in Spanish.”

One Day With Team 10

By 9 a.m. on a sweltering Tuesday in late August, a cluster of teenage girls was already padding around the leafy sidewalk outside the angular white stucco house near Hollywood’s Fairfax district where Team 10 is based, waiting for a chance to squeal “Jake!” or “Erika!” or “Kade!”

Strolling around the house that morning, it was not hard to find evidence of the youthpocalypse portrayed in media reports. In the backyard, next to a giant trampoline, an overturned office chair teetered at the edge of the “bonfire” pool, now filled with water, but with a flat-screen television lying facedown on the bottom.

A spirit of anarchy, however, was noticeably absent. Inside the cavernous and scarcely furnished main floor, the house felt more like the office of a Silicon Valley start-up than a modern, teenager-filled “Animal House.” Handwritten notes exhorted housemates to tend to their trash. A mini-basketball hoop hung on one wall. A pink tie-dyed banner emblazoned with the Team 10 logo blanketed another.


For one stunt, Mr. Tepper strapped firecrackers to his leg and filmed the explosions in slow motion. Credit Jake Michaels for The New York Times

At an hour when some corporate Angelenos were still idling on the 405 freeway, Team 10 was hard at work. Justin Roberts, known as “the Freshman,” quietly labored behind a computer monitor. At 15, the home-schooled student still lives with his parents. That does not mean he is denied the Team 10 halo effect. The rap star Drake recently dropped in on his birthday party at the nightclub Tao.

The team matriarch, Erika Costell, a 24-year-old model from Michigan, mingled nearby in workout gear. Half of the Team 10 power couple “Jerika,” she has three million YouTube subscribers and got a big boost from her “wedding” video with Mr. Paul, “We Actually Got Married…” in June, which has attracted 21 million views, even though they actually did not get married. (“We’re not even actually dating,” Mr. Paul explained later that day. “It’s like the WWE. People know that’s fake, and it’s one of the biggest things of entertainment”).

Sitting quietly on the blond-wood staircase was Mr. Paul, stroking his Belgian Malinois puppy, Apollo, who has 1.4 million Instagram followers. In conversation, Mr. Paul seemed 180 degrees from the fist-pumping, high-fiving uber-bro known to millions.

Off camera, I’m, like, chill and very laid-back,” Mr. Paul said, speaking in the polite, deferential tones of a student talking to a guidance counselor. “I don’t know if the word is ‘shy,’ but ‘reserved.’ I’m always thinking.”

The daily vlog is “an extreme version” of reality television, he said, and the Jake Paul who is the current scourge of greater Los Angeles is merely a character. “Literally, by saying the word ‘bro’ I do try to come off like a high school kid having fun,” he said. “What would a junior in high school say? What would their slang be? They use the word ‘savage,’ they use the word ‘lit.’ That isn’t my personal vocabulary. But it comes out on camera.”


Mr. Paul gathered his crew around the kitchen table for the weekly Team 10 meeting. Credit Jake Michaels for The New York Times

The morning calm doesn’t last long. The YouTube channels demand fresh content, and by 10 a.m. the team and its dewy-cheeked cameramen piled into a convoy of sport utility vehicles and headed off to the gym.

“Dude, I’m still picking glass out of my cheeks,” said Chad Tepper, the unofficial masochist of Team 10, gingerly stroking his face as he rode in the back seat of Mr. Paul’s tricked-out Tesla X. Holding out his phone, Mr. Tepper showed off footage from the previous day, a stunt filmed by an ultra-slow-motion Phantom camera showing a fluorescent light tube crashing down over his shoulder, enveloping his head — very, very slowly — in a cloud of glass shards and noxious white dust.

Such stunts might look like spontaneous iPhone goofs, but it often takes eight hours of shooting to create enough material for a 10-minute video. At that day’s morning workout, for instance, an hour of sweat yielded 26 seconds of usable footage. Next, the team headed to a Ralphs supermarket on Sunset Boulevard, where they roamed the aisles brainstorming other stunts.

“Yo, what about just pouring milk into cereal?” Mr. Paul asked the group, his eyes partly hidden by his trademark “yellers,” or yellow aviator sunglasses.

Too dull.

“We need to do something where we light something on fire,” one team member said.

An hour later, the crew assembled at a parking lot and giddily began emptying their grocery bags. As the Phantom camera rolled, team members swatted a cup of Jell-O with a tennis racket, blasted Mr. Tepper in the face with mini-marshmallows fired from a T-shirt gun and dropped an egg onto the blades of a drone hovering at shoulder level, splattering several members of the team with an al dente aeronautic omelet as they doubled over in laughter.

Some stunts by Mr. Paul and his crew. Video by Jake Paul

For the pièce de résistance, Mr. Paul attempted a fire-breathing stunt involving dish soap, butane and cornstarch. Over Mr. Tepper’s firm warnings (“Dude, I’m serious”), a cameraman ignited a puff of flammable foam in Mr. Paul’s palm. The Team 10 leader then blew a pillow-size fire ball into the warm Hollywood air, then turned to the camera triumphantly, squawking, “I’m a dragon!” as he flapped his arms melodramatically, cornstarch cascading from his mouth.

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