Waka Flocka Flame is a rapper who’s known for, according to Andrew Marantz when he wrote for the Vulture, his “disinterest in lyrics,” meaning that lyricism isn’t his strong suit and his songs are all party songs. I will be analyzing his facebook fan page and the various hashtags he uses. There’s less direct fan interaction and it seems more of an account used for content curation/media sharing. This differs greatly from his Twitter, where he retweets fans and posts more every day experiences. Marwick and Boyd in their paper “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter” quote Erving Goffman in that people “navigate ‘frontstage’ and ‘backstage’ areas in any given social situation” and it seems to be that Twitter seems to be more backstage for Flocka than Facebook, where he has various photos and quotes(Marwick & Boyd 143). While the media itself may be edited, there is a semblance of personability, or at least it’s attempted, with the hashtag #BigHomieFlock.
Waka is Giving You “Big Homie” Advice
With this example, it’s motivational and and inspirational message coming from your “Big Homie Flock”. Isn’t that sweet? There doesn’t seem to be any agenda, but only the classic “Do what you love” mantra that is pretty ubiquitous, at least from my perspective.
There is this tension though, especially seen with the hashtag #BigHomieFlock, as he then uses it as a promotional hashtag for a club he’s going to be at:
So on one end, he’s being personable(or whoever is running his Facebook page is) and associating it with a hashtag, and another one it has promotional material with a clear agenda (He wants you to come to where he’s at, which is a club who’s paying him to make you pay money and spend time at their establishment). This shows a very real complication that has to do with, as Marwick and Boyd state, “celebrity practice [that] involves presenting a seemingly authentic, intimate image of self while meeting fan expectations and maintaining important relationships”(Marwick & Boyd 140). This would be the tension found with staying consistent with the celebrity’s image while not sounding like an advertisement for a club, product or whatever.
Imbalance Between Profit and Purpose
In fact, Steven McLaine talks about the “consequences of imbalanced choices between profit and purpose” in his paper “Ethnic Online Communities Between Profit and Purpose“. In Flocka’s case on his facebook page, you can make the case that there is this constant imbalance and tension between those two. McLaine discusses online ethnic communities that differ from what he calls the “‘digital default’: white, male, heterosexual, middle-aged, middle-to-upper class” and one can assess that Flocka’s community isn’t exactly geared towards that digital default(McLaine 235). Obviously there is a motivation to get people to go to the events, but I don’t think Facebook is the main way of communicating that. There is one interesting hashtag that Flocka uses, which is the #gangstanerd hashtag to describe some of the things he shares:
These ‘Gangsta Nerds’ as he calls them seem to be the people who are into nerdy things like Batman comics and 8 Bit video games (see the photo at the top) and listen to his music, so it makes them gangsta. It seems that Flocka makes fun of them, but also embraces their nerdiness, because they’re the people who are “makin [him] shit”. This can be seen as a community due to the fact of that crucial piece when it comes to online interaction: user-generated content. McLaine suggests that a very good “formula for success… relies heavily on user input for site content” and it’s clear in Flocka’s case (both in Facebook as images like above and retweets on his Twitter) it is a key strategy in his community building efforts(McLaine 240). However, there isn’t really any credit that goes to the specific person who made it, so that might not be the most effective way to do it.
#FlockaFridays & #FlockaFacts – Appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator
Flocka, weirdly enough, has a ton of motivational quotes and all these other spin offs of other popular Internet memes if you will. Take the following for example:
A play off of the famous “Keep Calm and Carry On” but only Turnt up. This seems like a very safe Tweet, that goes with what Marwick and Boyd talk about in their paper “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context collapse, and the Imagined Audience” the “Lowest-Common-Denominator Philosophy of Sharing” which “limits users to topics that are safe for all possible readers” (Marwick and Boyd 13). Here’s another one (albeit with a little bit of better wordplay):
Considering that these happen usually on Fridays, or #FlockaFridays, it might be the anchor material that people will gravitate towards naturally, since it’s safe to talk about being the best you can be.
While there are thousands of likes and shares on here, which suggest active participation and a full fledged community, McLaine quotes Howard Rheingold to remember specifically when it comes to online community building:
“.. you have to be careful to not mistake the tool for the task and think that just writing words on a screen is the same thing as real community.”
While I don’t doubt that Flocka has die hard fans (I am one of them) I only wonder how many people who saw his promotional stuff on Facebook actually purchased any of it as a result? Profit and purpose while always be at battle and its up to us as consumers to look beyond the veil and understand when one was prioritize over the other. Oh and to always Turn Up. Always.