KC Clark talks being @versatilenstyle KC Clark talks being @versatilenstyle

Social Media Week: KC Clark Talks Being @versatilenstyle

KC Clark is just like most 20-year-olds, plus or minus nearly a half-million followers. The Detroit native has garnered his own Instagram legion as @versatilenstyle, all of whom look to laugh at his renditions of everyday life. However, it may escape them that he is an everyday guy himself. He played sports in school. He got teased for being different. He made a lifelong best friend in his single mother. He has dreams. And now, his profile serves as crash course in becoming rich and famous before he actually makes it there. Clark’s social media popularity has made him an Instagram favorite to some, as well as a target of cyber hate to others. But it is all just a testament to how far he -- and the Internet -- has come. -- Iyana Robertson

VIBE: What was your first social media profile, and how corny was it?
It was so corny. It was MySpace. I used to have all the songs on my page. I used to have all the different backgrounds, Jordans, celebrities and stuff like that. It was super duper wack now that I think about it. And then you have your friends in that Top 10. If you wasn’t in that Top 10, you know you really wasn’t my friend like that.

Oh, things got serious over Top Friends.
It really did. It was like ‘Oh, I see where we stand.’ It was super corny.

You started off on Vine before you got really popular on Instagram. Did you go into it wanting to entertain?
I actually was a little late to Vine. I had just moved back home from Georgia, and my brother told me about Vine. He was like ‘Man, it’s so funny. You should look at it.’ So I looked at it and I instantly thought it was really funny. At the time, I didn’t really have no job, I didn’t have much to do, so out of boredom, I just started making Vines and people started thinking they were funny. Before this, I didn’t even know I was funny until I started making videos, because I wasn’t really trying to be funny.

So you weren’t the “funny guy.”
Yeah, it just happened. I didn’t go into thinking ‘Hey, I’m going to make funny videos, and I’m going to get people’s attention.’

And then it blew up once you went over to Instagram. Do you remember when you first started seeing your videos pop up everywhere?
Yeah, when Instagram first got videos, after a while they created this app called the RepostWhiz, and it lets you repost videos that people do. Once I started my reposts on other people’s pages, I was like ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.’

It is crazy. What were you thinking?
I was really excited because before, when I only had a couple of thousand followers, and I was doing videos, people would comment and tell me they were really funny. So I would go on celebrity pages and say, ‘Can you check out my videos? I think you might think they’re funny.’ Then they started posting my videos without me saying anything. People with tons of followers were reposting them, and then I would get tons of followers. I was just like ‘Oh man. This is dope. This is amazing.’

How hard is it to be funny in 15 seconds? It’s such a short amount of time. Does a lot of work go behind putting these things together?
It’s not as hard as people would think sometimes, but other times it is a little difficult. So it has it’s hard times and it’s times when it’s just like nothing. But basically, I just think of an idea and it just blows up from there. I just get my phone and get on Instagram. I’d do the video over like five, or maybe like 20 times over and over until I get the right video that I actually like.

Wait, 20 times?
Yeah, before I actually post it. I’d be like ‘Umm, maybe I should do that part over. Maybe I should do this part over. Ah, I messed up on this part.’ I don’t even write out my ideas or what I’m going to say. I just come up with the idea, like a concept, and then I just go from there.

And where do you get your ideas from? Is it just conversations with people?
I try to base my ideas off real-life situations, whether it’s something that happened to me, or something that I saw happen, or someone tells me a story and I just put my own little twist to it. So someone can tell me a story and I’d just be like ‘I can see that happening,’ and I’ll just recreate it in my videos. Or say I saw a girl act ratchet. I’d say, ‘Oh my God, I gotta do that in a video.’ And that’s where I get it from: life, basically.

A lot of people have criticized men who put on wigs and imitate females as a less-than-masculine way of generating a following. What do you think about that?
When I first started putting on wigs, I knew certain people wouldn’t like it. But I don’t really care. I’m totally far from a judgemental person, so if I wasn’t doing it and I saw someone else doing it, I would just be like ‘Hey, it’s funny’ if it made me laugh. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that that’s making him less of a man or anything. I just think whatever’s funny is funny. As far as how I feel about myself doing it, it’s just all in fun. I don’t think of it as making me less of a man, it’s just all about having fun to me. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I don’t just walk around the house in a wig all day. I just enjoy having fun. And obviously I’m doing something right.

Exactly. But what do you think it is about you and your videos that you followers love so much? Because there are other people who do it too.
I think I make myself more relatable than a lot of others do. No shade, or whatever. I just think I’m more relatable in my videos. I feel like when you see one of my videos, you’d be like ‘That happened to me,’ or ‘I saw that happen to this person.’ I think it’s just that I base my videos more off of reality, unless it’s a really strung-out story that I was being silly about. I’m just a regular person. Just because of Instagram, I don’t consider myself a celebrity per se. It’s just really Instagram.

Social media has given people a new way to chase their aspirations, though. There’s a new way to share your talents. Are there pros and cons to this?
I totally agree with you on that. Before Instagram or Vine, I was trying to do my dancing and i was trying to do my acting and it didn’t work out. So I was in the midst of chasing my dreams, and I feel like Instagram has given me a really great opportunity and a really great stepping stone to get a little bit closer to what I’ve been trying to do for a minute. But I think the pros and cons of it all is just that it is on the Internet, so there are some people who hide behind their keyboards and say mean and rude things, that’s the negative side of it all. The pro of if it all is the same thing, it’s the Internet. Anyone can see it, anyone can see your face. You don’t know who’s following you, you don’t know who’s liking your videos. You just never know. It’s exposure, but it’s exposure in a way that can bring hateful people to you.

How have you dealt with the negativity?
Oh, I’m the best person when it comes to ignoring stuff. I can ignore anything. I don’t even respond to people who comment stuff. I just block you and delete you, and that’s that. I’m not about to argue with you. Period, point blank. I don’t even bother at all.

You also have posted things about your reality being different from your videos. What misconceptions do you think people have about you?
Well, the biggest thing is, people think I’m a comedian when really I’m just an aspiring actor. People run up to me like, ‘Say something funny,’ and I’d have nothing to say but ‘Hi.’ [Laughs] So people just think I’m instantly hilarious, like as soon as I walk in a room I’m like ‘Knock, knock, here’s a joke.’ I’m really just a cool, laid-back, silly type of dude. I’m not really a comedian.

Is there ever a time when you just feel like this funny Instagram guy, and that people don’t really care about anything else?
Yeah, I do feel that way sometimes, like all they want is the videos. I don’t think nothing’s wrong with it, but I just think you also have to remember that I’m living my life just like you. You have things to do throughout the day, so sometimes I just don’t have enough time to make videos. And some people get annoyed by that. I could go three days without making a video and people would be like ‘Oh my God, you haven’t made a video.’

But there is another side to it too. You’ve shared your personal life on your page as well. Do you feel like you have a new, sort-of extended family?
I really do. When my grandma passed, she didn’t have any insurance, so she didn’t have any money to pay for the funeral or just to get things together. And I just immediately thought of Instagram. I was just like, ‘Hey, it would be nice if you guys could help me out.’ It made me feel really special when people were actually helping me out. Someone even donated like $500. And that was a blessing, it was truly amazing. That warmed my heart for me to be able to help out my grandma. It really meant a lot to me. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.

What is your ultimate goal as an entertainer?
My ultimate goal, I’ve been saying it since I was little, I really wanted to be rich and famous more than anything. But to get to that point, I want to be an actor, and I also want to be a dancer. So maybe like on Broadway. And I’m also into fashion; I want to own my own clothing store one day. I want to be “the face” of something.

Listening to you talk about you dreams and knowing that something like Instagram can help you get there, is still insane to me.
It’s truly amazing. I was just having this conversation with my friend. Aaliyah was on the radio and I was just like, ‘Do you know how much of a better opportunity we have than they had back then?’ She became a singer and there was no Instagram, no YouTube, no nothing out back then. So she really had to grind, really had to work her butt off. Now in this day, we have YouTube and Instagram, people can see you from anywhere, all over the world. But back then, they didn’t even have that so I know they had to have been busting their ass trying to get somebody to see them. It’s amazing that we have these opportunities. We still have to work hard, but I don’t think we have to bust our ass as much as they had to bust their ass back in the day.

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Let Jacquees Tell It, He’s The Jodeci Of This R&B Game

Rodriquez Jacquees Broadnax doesn’t want to be the bad guy of R&B. He says this with a sinister, yet warm smile. With year-end debates taking over social circles, Jacquees wants all the flowers for his glowing debut, 4275. “I ain't never had a year like this, I got one of those careers and lives that keep going like this,” he says, as he raises his iced out wrist to draw his progression. “It keeps going up, my sh*t just keeps going up.”

At 24 years old, the singer knows a thing or two about the ever-changing genre. Nearly half of his life has been dedicated to music, specifically to quiet storm-like sounds that now take on new meaning in our adult love lives. He’s hibernated under the radar for some time with his 2014 debut EP 19 and released gentle falsettos and big name features with Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign and Trey Songz along the way.

But between his accolades, he’s been condemned for his favorable “Quemix” of Ella Mai’s “Trip” and now, his self-proclaimed status of “The King of R&B” for his generation.

"I just wanna let everybody know that I'm the king of R&B right now," Jacquees said in an Instagram post on Sunday (Dec. 9). "For this generation, I understand who done came and who done did that and that and that, but now it's my time. Jacquees, the king of R&B.”

R&B artists like J. Holiday and Pleasure P shared their two cents on the matter while the game’s most elite like Tank, Tyrese and Eric Bellinger dropping stacks of knowledge on the gift of consistency, respect, and talent. But Jacquees has these things and then some with legends like Jon B., Donell Jones and Jermaine Dupri in his corner. Despite quick reactions from his peers, Jacquees is confident in nature and proud of his space in the game.

“I think I'm the leader though, as far as males go, I think I'm the number one,” he tells VIBE, just days before his “King of R&B” comments went viral. “You're talking about R&B young dudes who understand who goin’ [at] it, [but] who are they going to put in the front? I believe everyone will say Jacquees.”

Jacquees’ music is just a branch of what R&B has evolved into. Over the years, artists like SZA, H.E.R., Daniel Caesar, The Internet, Miguel and many more have flipped the genre on its head by churning out music that not only speaks to the soul, but to their vocal abilities. Successful R&B records aren’t confined to rap guest verses and traditional instruments now take center stage. But Jacquees sits in an interesting space seeing as his style caters to a grey area of folks who just heard their first Monica album yesterday and now appreciate a good nayhoo like the rest of us.

With hopes to release his sophomore album in February 2019, Jacquees chats with VIBE about his confidence, making 7275 and why he’s the perfect leader for R&B today.


What have you learned about yourself as a human and an artist in 2018?


quees: This was my biggest year. I made the most money I’ve ever made. I dropped my album and was able to take care of my family. I ain’t never had a year like this and I thank God for that. I got one of those careers and lives that keep going like this, (slowly raises a hand to the ceiling) It keeps going up, my sh*t just keeps going up.

I think I learned about my whole self in 2018. Being that it was my biggest year, I went through a lot of stuff personally, but I think the biggest thing for me was listening to other people but also trusting myself. I have a strong mind so more of listening to myself helped.

Do you think you're the good guy or the bad guy in R&B?

Who do you think I am?

I think you’re a sweetie.

I don’t wanna be the bad guy, I’m a good guy. I’m easy to deal with. I’m a sweetie, but ain’t sh*t sweet though. (Laughs)

You have a lot of ‘90s and 2000s influence in your music. Do you ever feel you might sound dated, or do you think you’re bringing new sounds into the genre?

I just think I'm bringing a whole new sound. When I was younger, someone told me if you switch up what you’re doing, someone else is going to do it and you’re going to be pissed off. Just stick with it. When I was 14, everyone was telling me I needed to make club records but I didn’t want to do it. I remember CEOs saying, “Just let Jacquees do that [what he wants,]” because it’s a clock.

I figured out how to get my records at the club without changing who I was. I remember making “B.E.D.” and finding my flow on my project 19, you know? That’s when I got my swag.

What does love look like to you right now?

I think about a family. I think about me, a girl, a kid or something, like a whole family. One day I’m going to have it. I’ll still be in the game but I’ll say, “Yeah, that’s my wife over there with our son and daughter.” I'm getting older, too. I’ve been in the game for 10 years for real, but I’ll be 25 next year and soon they’ll be a little Jacquees.

There are a lot of layers in today’s R&B, especially in the mainstream resurgence it’s had. In that, there aren’t as many young male black vocalists being pushed to the forefront. I want to know your thoughts on where you exist in the genre today.

I think there's a big wave coming back right now because even if R&B didn't die down they weren’t promoting it that heavy. Artists were making songs, they just weren’t being acknowledged on a mainstream level. I think the game is really putting R&B back on top. You know, you’ve got artists like me, Tory [Lanez], Ella Mai, H.E.R., so many people, you know what I’m saying? Of course, you had Chris [Brown], Trey [Songz], all of them but that’s when we were in school. It’s a new time, ain’t no big male R&B singers.

I think I'm the leader though, as far as males go, I think I'm the number one. You're talking about R&B young dudes who understand who goin’ [at] it, [but] who are they going to put in the front? I believe everyone will say Jacquees. They’re not rugged like me. You’ve got Jodeci and Boyz II Men. I’m Jodeci, they’re all Boyz II Men. I’m street, they’re not street like me. You can hear it in their voice. There’s a difference.

It’s no disrespect to nobody because they’re all my friends, but I still wanna be number one. If we’re playing the game and I lose, I’ll be mad as hell but I’m still a good person. I just want to win.

As you should. Everyone wants to make the best music they can–

But I ain’t no hater either. The game is like a sport. The game is like high school. I remember being at this year’s BET Awards and seeing certain singers and thinking, ‘Oh, they’re seniors.’ I knew I was a freshman, but I saw Meek and all of them thought, “He’s a senior.’ You know how it is when you walk through school in the first year. Then the second you’re like, “I’m the ni**a now.”

When I did the Soul Train Awards in November, I felt like a sophomore that everybody knew. They knew me from my freshman year, but this time I’m playing varsity.

You’ve said before you want to do this for a long time–

Yeah, I want to make music forever and it’s my choice. I want to make enough money for me to turn down shows because now, I have to take everything I get. I always tell artists, you got this much time to make this much money. Because after that, sh*t’s closed. I've seen it happen.

For me, I know I got longevity in this game because I'm an R&B singer and a lot of R&B singers have longevity if you take care of yourself, you know what I'm saying? Even rappers, you know what I'm saying? You keep that flow going, don't do no lame sh*t, you know you’re stick around.

How do you take care of yourself?

You gotta take care of your health. That's number one. Your mind and your health is your biggest thing. Keeping good people around you...stay in good spirits with me. I like to keep good people around me. I like people around me [who] make me laugh. Smile, I don't really like people around me that I got to be like, “What's going on?” I just like people who are themselves.

Stream 4275 below.

READ MORE: Tyrese, Usher And Others Reacts To Jacquees' Claim That He's The King Of R&B

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Music Sermon: The Groundbreaking Sprite and St. Ides Hip-Hop Campaigns

Today, rap music is used to sell everything from electronics to tax filing services to nut butter grinding machines at Whole Foods. We understand that hip-hop culture is essentially the root of everything cool and hip in culture, period, and it’s been commodified and appropriated within an inch of its life. But in the early ‘90s, the genre was far from Madison Avenue-friendly. Aside from the groundbreaking deal between Adidas and RUN DMC, brands didn’t yet see full value and impact of hip-hop…except in the food and beverage industry.

Beverage companies centering campaigns for the urban demo around black music was nothing new; Coca-Cola had ads featuring artists such as New Edition and Anita Baker singing their hearts out for the cola in the ‘80s, and Schlitz Malt Liquor had a legendary – and hilarious - run of spots featuring The Commodores, The Four Tops, Teddy Pendergrass and more through the ‘70s and early ‘80s. However, in the early ‘90s two brands put their entire business on hip-hop’s back, by not only building their brands but spring-boarding the recognition of the music and artists as a marketing and advertising tool: Sprite soda and St. Ides malt liquor.

In the ‘80s, Sprite was languishing behind competitor 7Up when parent company Coca-Cola decided to focus on the youth market, and the quickly growing hip-hop culture was part of the strategy. African-American ad agency Burrell Communications tagged hip-hop acts for a series of spots that began a long-standing marriage between the brand and the culture, starting with Kurtis Blow in 1986. It was one of the first national TV ads to feature a rapper.


In 1990, the brand kicked off the “I Like the Sprite in You” campaign, using rap acts that matched the soft drink’s bubbly energy, starting with Heavy D & the Boyz before partnering with Kid ’n Play the following year. The ads featured the artists clad in lemon-lime fare, rhymin’ about lymon.

HEAVY D - 1990 KID’N PLAY – 1991

With Kris Kross, they turned it up a notch and had us crunk inside the Sprite can. Edgy. Also, this was catchy as hell.


Then in 1994, a young brand manager from Clark Atlanta University named Darryl Cobbin had an idea for a new direction: Gen X was about authenticity and independence of thought, not following the hype. Sprite ditched the pop-friendly crossover acts and identified more “authentic” rap artists – lyricists with street and cultural cred – to rep the brand. “Lymon” was also out of the window, as they moved away from marketing taste and towards marketing attitude. (Cobbin later spearheaded the iconic, yet grammatically questionable, Boost Mobile “Where You At?” campaign.)

Gone were the bright yellow and green sets, because while the new slogan said, “Image is nothing,” it was all about image. Bright and shiny was traded for dark and gritty. Now we were in the studio; a fly on the wall for freestyle sessions. In the first spot of the series with Grand Puba and Large Professor, Puba closes with “First thing’s first, obey your thirst.” It’s legend even within Coca-Cola that Puba ad-libbed the phrase that then became the brand’s tagline that remains to this day.


The “Obey Your Thirst” spots also took us the street corner, the club, and inside the ring when Sprite resurrected the legendary KRS One vs. MC Shan battle.

KRS ONE & MC SHAN - 1996 NAS & AZ – 1997 THE LOST BOYS – 1997

By the late ‘90s Sprite had spent roughly $70M on the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign, tripled sales, and commanded a majority market share of the citrus category (which also included 7Up, Sierra Mist, and Mountain Dew).

Sprite had also succeeded in becoming an official and established part of the culture. They were family. The brand further expanded into urban youth culture through a partnership with the NBA, while continuing to evolve the creative of the rap campaigns.


Near the end of the decade, Sprite explored the overlap between hip-hop culture, comics and martial arts with a series of posse spots based on Voltron (representing all hip-hop regions) and the 5 Deadly Venoms (with all female emcees).


Over the years, Sprite has continued to be one of the most consistent brands in hip-hop. We’ve grown accustomed to spotting the logo everywhere from music festivals and shows to the background of BET’s hip-hop cyphers. They revitalized the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign with Drake in 2010 and paid homage to the greatest lyricists in rap with the “Obey Your Verse” campaign featuring iconic rappers and cans with classic lyrics in 2015.

SPRITE "Obey Your Verse - Cooler" (starring Rakim) from SHOUT IT OUT LOUD MUSIC on Vimeo.

St. Ides’ run with hip-hop doesn’t have the same happy ending as Sprite’s. The brand’s usage of rap petered out in the mid-90s after wide backlash and a series of lawsuits.

For St. Ides, hip-hop was the brand campaign. It’s how they built their business. The brand was introduced in 1987 and their rap campaigns launched in 1988. The malt liquor 40 oz., with significantly higher alcohol content than beer at around a $2 price point, was already a staple in lower-income neighborhoods and hip-hop culture. The “Crooked I” capitalized on that.

Parent company McKenzie River secured Ice Cube as their anchor spokesperson and tapped West Coast producer DJ Pooh to spearhead advertising creative. Pooh lined up a veritable who’s who of additional West Coast rappers over the years, including Geto Boys, Cypress Hill, Warren G, Snoop and Tupac; plus the thorough-est from the East, including Eric B and Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie and EPMD.

EPMD & ICE CUBE - 1991 GETO BOYS & ICE CUBE – 1992 ERIC B & RAKIM - 1992

Unlike Sprite’s campaigns which were first jingles and still felt like commercials, even when elevated to trading hot bars for Obey Your Thirst. St. Ides spots, however, looked and felt like straight up music videos with album-worthy production and flow.

ICE CUBE – 1993 MC EIHT – 1994 NOTORIOUS B.I.G. – 1995

Complex even named Wu-Tang’s St. Ides spot “Shaolin Brew” as one of the collective’s 100 best songs! (But at least it’s ranked near the bottom; #97.)


In fact, in 1994, the brand did turn the hottest of the joints into an album, with the St. Ides promotional mixtape dropping at your neighborhood liquor store. It featured full-length songs about getting twisted off the malt liquor from Ice Cube, Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, MC Eiht, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Nate Dogg.

The Snoop and Nate track is low key a jam, still. Homegirl in the background starting at the 10-second mark is a whole mood.

This blatant marketing of malt liquor directly to black and brown youth wasn’t going to go unchecked indefinitely. It was all irresponsible, even while being genius for the demo. In 1991, the Wall Street Journal listed the St. Ides ad campaign among one of the worst of the year, which probably didn’t matter at the time since WSJ readers weren’t St. Ides’ base.

In 1991, Public Enemy released Apocalypse ’91: The Empire Strikes Back. The album featured “100 Bottle Bags,” a direct criticism against malt liquor companies marketing specifically to urban communities “…but they don’t sell that sh*t in the white neighborhoods.” Shortly after the release, St. Ides found itself in Chuck D’s crosshairs, and he fired the first in a series of big shots against the brand, marking the beginning of the end of their love affair with hip-hop. An 80-second radio spot featuring Cube used a sample of Chuck’s voice without his permission. The ad had already aired over 500 times on rap radio shows when Chuck sued St. Ides parent company McKenzie River for five million dollars (they settled out of court).

Then, St. Ides and McKenzie River fell under legal scrutiny from the New York State Attorney General in 1992 for using verbiage like Cube’s lyric “Get your girl in the mood quicker, make your jimmy thicker…St. Ides.” to suggest the malt liquor increased sexual prowess. Can you imagine the think pieces if that spot ran today?

They were later in hot water with the New York AG’s office again, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (the ATF) for advertising perceived to the be targeted towards minors, with complaints that it glamorized gang affiliation and promoted sex. After having production completely shut down for a short while and getting hit with heavy fines, St. Ides tried to clean up its act, adding “drink responsibly” messaging into the spots.

By ’96 the run was over. Hip-hop was growing up, getting money and moving towards more sophisticated alcoholic beverage choices. Alizé and Hennessy, anyone?

The relationship between hip-hop and alcohol never ended, of course, but has continued to evolve to match the evolution of the lifestyle. We don’t go to the corner store no more, homie (save a brief return in the early aughts of Four Loko). We’re toasting to the good life with premium brands, some of which are now owned by the artists.

We can look back now with the wizened, woke eyes of maturity and possibly scrutinize our artists selling out at the expense of the community, but for the young and burgeoning hip-hop culture, both the St. Ides campaigns and the Sprite campaigns opened the door for the power and commodification of hip-hop and consumer brands. For better or for worse.

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J.Cole, Teyana Taylor And Other Snubs Of The 2019 Grammy Nominations

It's that time of year again when inner circles and strangers on the Internet debate who's up for a gramophone.

On Friday (Dec. 7), the nominees for 2019's Grammy Awards (Feb. 10) were announced to a span of hot takes, early but informed predictions, and a wall of confusion as to why certain artists were overlooked. While some entertainers excitedly received the good news (Cardi B discovered her nods while leaving a courthouse), others were left scratching their heads.

Here's a look at why those who were snubbed by the Recording Academy deserved to be nominated.

READ MORE: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, And Cardi B Lead 2019 Grammys Nominations


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