Edits, mash-ups, and memes have become an important part of understanding and interacting with pop culture.
When Pusha T dropped "The Story of Adidon," it wasn’t until Drake was hit with a wave of deadbeat dad memes that we fully grasped the blow his image had taken. It wasn't clear just how many people Childish Gambino's "This Is America" video had reached until remixes and fan edits started flooding social media timelines.
When it comes to hip-hop interviews and awkward moments in rap, it's hard to say something has really made an impact until you see a bunch of comments saying, "I can’t wait for MuchDank to get to this."
If you've somehow escaped the bizarre world of MuchDank videos up until now, it's a YouTube channel that specializes in chopping up video interviews and other big moments in rap and creating bizarre situations with clever edits. It isn't really a meme channel and it's definitely not a traditional interview platform. It's MuchDank. And it could only exist in today's strange internet culture. With each heavy breathing, lip-licking edit, the channel is picking up momentum and becoming a bigger part of the conversation. At this point, videos rarely get less than a quarter million views and some have as many as three million plays.
We reached out to the team behind MuchDank for an interview and, preferring to stay anonymous, they agreed to do an email Q&A as long as we avoided personal questions. In a classic MuchDank move, they deleted one of our questions and re-wrote their own. We'll let you guess which one that was.
In a sentence, how would you describe MuchDank?
A trash channel that goofs on rappers and for some reason, people like it.
How did MuchDank start?
It’s a long story but to sum it up, back in high school we started the channel as an inside joke with a group of friends. At that time we made videos inspired by MLG Montage Parodies and shitposts from channels like Snipars and H3H3 Productions. At that time the name “MuchDank” and the Ainsley Harriott avatar was appropriate. But the channel never went anywhere and wasn’t a main focus. Fast forward a few years and the Left off Bad and Boujee (HUH?) video was birthed out of a late night, random thought. And that’s how the trash began to spread.
There are lots of meme channels out there, but you focused in on interview edits. Why?
We’re not even sure if we are considered a meme channel. As for using interviews, we wanted to be consistent and interviews allowed us to do this as they’re frequently uploaded and the artist in the interview is relevant at that time. On top of that, interviews are typically high quality and give us a lot to work with. But we’re always looking content that isn’t an interview, to keep it fresh and different from the usual content.
What makes a good video to edit? How do you know you're going to turn something into a MuchDank video?
It’s always different, but some of the things we look for include:
- Recommendations from subscribers
- Interesting or weird quirks that the artist has (licks lips a lot)
- Ongoing jokes surrounding the artists (Logic being biracial)
- Repetition of words (Joe Budden saying “stop”)
- And of course high-quality video and audio
We don’t really know if it’ll become a MuchDank video but after spotting some of those things we just give it a go. Sometimes something you thought had the least potential can end up turning into one of the best videos.
Can you walk me through the process of creating a MuchDank video?
We just get into editing it. Sometimes we’ll write down ideas so that we don’t forget them. Other than that there’s not much planning. We do that as we’re going, which we guess leaves the options open.
Whenever an interview gets big, I always see comments that say "I can't wait until MuchDank gets to this." It's almost like a rite of passage for important hip-hop moments now. Have you seen this, too?
Yeah, we see it but to us, it’s crazy because we never thought any of this was possible, at all. And to see people showing interest and love on videos/places of the web other than our channel is so dope. Even this, we never thought we’d be answering questions for an interview.
Do rappers or media companies ever hit you up to turn their interviews into MuchDank edits and bring more attention to their content?
Yes to the media companies/labels, but no to the artists. They’ve just shown love. When the media companies reach out and we think the video they’re proposing has potential, it’s cool to work together because both sides benefit. We get a video (with no risk of copyright issues) and they get some extra exposure. We ain’t paid by them by the way, just to clarify.
In our opinion, it enhances the culture by taking things that aren’t usually funny and making them funny.
Meme edits have become a big part of hip-hop culture lately. I'm curious to hear what your thoughts are on the importance of memes and what role they currently have.
Memes are very unique as they’re one of—if not the only—format of media that is susceptible to immense exposure overnight and are universal. Memes have always followed culture, even if that culture is obscure. But now that hip-hop is the most listened to genre of music, it only makes sense that memes will be made around it. In our opinion, it enhances the culture by taking things that aren’t usually funny and making them funny. And it can even begin careers with the amount of attention memes can generate.
Was there a specific moment that you remember things first taking off and getting a lot of attention?
The first video that really popped off (Left off Bad and Boujee (HUH?) was released when we had around 30 subscribers and it was the first upload in over a year. When it started to gain views we thought it would be a one-time viral video. But after a string of videos that helped us find our footing and set the tone of our channel, it turned out not to be. And for that, we couldn’t be more grateful.
Have any of the artists you've edited reached out or commented on the videos?
Any artist that has reached out regarding the videos we’ve edited of them have understood it’s a joke and reacted positively. The best example of this is Ski Mask the Slump God who saw a snippet of our video (Ski Mask's Worst Live Performance ft XXXTENTACION) on our Instagram and commented, “Fuck you lmfaooo this shit funny.” The video could have easily been taken the wrong way and he could’ve been offended. But it’s dope to see that the artists take the video the way we want it to be perceived. When we make these videos, it’s not to offend or attack an artist, it’s just to have a laugh.
Why do you focus on rappers, specifically, instead of other musicians or celebrities?
We’ve been into hip-hop for years, and still are. It’s the primary genre we listen to. And it just so happened that the first video that blew was a hip-hop related video, so we stuck with it. This way we can garner audience who expect hip-hop content and have the same interests as us.
Have you been able to monetize this and turn it into a career? Or is it a side project?
Yes and no. It can be tough to monetize our content, especially with YouTube’s new demonetization rules. On top of that, our content fits into a gray area. Is it deemed fair use or not? Sometimes, even if the video is fair use (in our opinion) it’ll still get claimed by a third party—which basically means the video stays up, but they receive all the revenue. And in that case, it’s almost not worth the time to prove that it’s fair use. But at the end of the day, we’d much rather have a video make no money than for it to never come out or be taken down due to copyright.
What's next? Do you have any plans to grow MuchDank beyond its current format?
Yes, we’ve got plenty of ideas but you’ll have to wait and see what they are.
Lastly, are you really Ainsley Harriott?