Even if you’ve never seen the person in that photo up there, or if you’re not familiar with the name in the title, you absolutely are already familiar with his work. Ka5sh created the ‘I FW Your Vision’ memes that completely took over the internet last month. Now, with the release of his new self-titled EP, he’s trying to link and build with you on his music.
The 25 year old Fayetteville, North Carolina native isn’t a viral star trying to cash in on music, he’s actually been recording way before his memes were his calling card.
"I've been making music, since, I'd say like 2012 I think. I was rapping under Ka5sh Ketchum then, and then I started this group called 'Weirdo' in 2013 and we were like punk and trap, like avant-garde type thing. Like a mix between Death Grips and Ho99o9 and then, just like 'undergroundy' rap type stuff. That was going nowhere, like, we started around the same time as $uicideboy$ and stuff did, and $uicideboy$ took off way, waaaaay, more than we did. I used to talk to those kids on Facebook. That's when they were on Facebook."
He was in the right place at the right time, recording harder, grittier, punk-inspired raps at time when similar groups were experiencing success with the style, but it never really went anywhere for him and his three man ‘Weirdo’ crew. At the same time, life was getting him down. Way down. In April 2016, he needed a change of pace and scenery. He decided to move to Los Angeles and crash with friends from North Carolina.
"It changed my life completely. Just literally like, a hundred percent. Prior to me moving here, my girlfriend had just left me, I was working at this place called H.H Greg, it's like an appliance sales place, and I hated my life. I bought this stupid van. It was like super old, the exhaust was leaking on the inside so smoke would just plume through the engine and I was like killing myself slowly. Just driving that thing to work. And I was depressed as hell. One day, I just got fed up. I was watching 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' in the back of the store, and they were like why are you're not even selling anything, why are you still here? And then I just bought a plane ticket and flew out to live with a couple friends who are also from Fayetteville.”
But as is life, nothing ever really works out how you want it to. Within just days of landing in LA, the lease was up on the house he intended to live in. Everyone had to move out.
“The weekend that I moved here the lease was up on the house. It was like 'oh fuck now we all gotta find a place to stay.' So then I was just couch surfing trying to find a place to stay.”
He was technically homeless for a while, couch surfing and staying wherever he could. Eating whatever was available.
“The first couple of months of living here I was dying because I had no money. I was like eating lettuce and going to sleep for dinner. It was the worst thing in the world."
Somewhere in that process, music became a secondary thought. And somehow memes and internet culture became the priority.
"When I first came out here, I was just like a rapper. I didn't even have an Instagram. I was like making memes on Facebook, for my personal Facebook, and my meme page that I ran with Versace Tamagotchi (Jack Wagner) and a whole bunch of other people. It's called ‘I play KORN to my DMT plants, smoke blunts all day & do sex stuff.’ I don't think it's up anymore, I think it got taken down."
Ka5sh casually mentions the Facebook page he worked on while in North Carolina, a page that I later find out has over 130,000 fans. The internet meme connections he made prior to moving ended up benefiting him once he settled into Los Angeles.
“I met Jack Wagner in real life at his birthday party. He went to like a Smash Mouth concert, you had to be invited, everyone when to this Smash Mouth concert at the Grove, so it was like a hub of all the popular internet people. That's where I met Brandon Wardell and all those people. So I became friends with them, I think it just went from there. I just became more better at the internet I guess. I think like, someone told me to make an Instagram for all the memes that I was doing, and I was like okay I'll do that. Instagram is stupid. And I got like 10,000 followers in like a month and a half and just went on from there. Now I'm almost at 25,000.”
– At what point did you see it start to snowball, with your impact online, to where you were becoming known?
"I think that just started happening recently. I had a whole bunch of viral memes, that I could never prove that I made them, but I know I made them. I think my first taste of 'oh man I can do something with this' was when I made a spongebob meme about 'Supreme witchpussy,' a word that I made up. That one was the first viral meme I made, and I saw people saying 'Supreme witchpussy' all the time, so I made a 'Supreme witchpussy' shirt and sold all of those and was like 'oh cool, I'm something right now.' That was like a little bit of it, but I think up until recently I don't think I was good at the internet, or cool on the internet, until I came to LA and everyone was like 'I fucking know who you are, I love your stuff!' It's weird.”
– Is the 'Fuck With Your Vision' Meme your most successful meme so far?
"Yeah, yeah forsure. That's the one that I've seen people that I don't even know, that memes coming back to.
– So how did you start that?
"That came from me making fun of people who are 'pseudo-creative' and I couldn't figure out how to make that joke, and then I remembered seeing a picture of a guy who was wearing a Supreme hoodie for pants and a shirt, and I was like 'he's the guy who would say that.' So I told Instagram that this is 'the new format' and then everyone was like 'okay!' and everyone just started doing it.”
Ka5sh alludes to the fact that before he was recognized for his memes, his work would commonly be stolen and he had no real way to claim ownership. Masked Gorilla actually inadvertently stole one of his memes last year.
– It's crazy, even before that, like you were saying you were making so many viral memes. I was posting them and I didn't even know where they were coming from.
"Yeah you didn't. I made that Eminem meme."
– I met you in real life, and I thought I didn't know who you were, but it turns out I did because I was familiar with your work, and I probably took it from someone who took it from you. It's just so crazy. So how does it feel now to get credit for starting that meme and you're finally being recognized?
"It's tight. That's what I've always wanted and want for other content creators, to get credit for their work and get money off it. I haven't made really any money off it except for the little merchandise that I sold off it. But, I don't know, I'm trying to stay ahead of it so I don't end up like Peaches Monroe. The girl who invented "On Fleek." That sucks, like she created the word that everyone still to this day used. Like 21 Savage just said "Diamond On Fleek" on his song, she doesn't get any credit for that."
– She recently started a GoFundMe to fund her cosmetic line.
"Hopefully she gets that money. I have to check. But I think she may have gotten it. I hope so."
Ka5sh is being active, trying to stay in front of his memes and not get taken advantage of. But it’s still hard to squeeze a living out of memes by themselves unless you have millions of followers to use as leverage with advertisers. He used to be homeless, so what’s his situation like now? It’s better. He just curated the successful meme art show ‘By Any Memes Necessary’ at the Hollywood art-space ‘Welcome To Junior High. He’s paying rent through social media consulting for a major record label that he would rather leave unnamed.
With one of the most viral memes of the year under his belt, having money to pay his rent and more than just lettuce to eat for dinner, the 25 year old is back to focusing on his music.
– So what inspired you to put out an EP?
"This is like my first solo work, I've never put out an EP by myself. It's always been really hard to write songs just pertaining to me, I've just been weird about myself I guess. I'm reserved about the actual version of me, so this EP is a real life version of me. I've never done this before. I've never put out a piece of work where you get to learn things about me. Which is weird. I have a whole song about my depression.
– It's kind of in vogue to be depressed on the internet, but it sounds like for you it's very sincere. So what do you think about the trend, as someone who suffers from depression? It’s kind of the cool thing now to say "I'm depressed" and "I want to kill myself."
"That's weird, see, because I get that question a lot because people are like, 'Why are you romanticizing depression?' I just don't know how to explain to people that I'm not, that I'm actually depressed. I guess they just look at me and it's like, 'oh here's a normal person.' My goal is to, not so much to normalize it, but bring up the conversation. Depression is real. People are going through this shit. You should talk to someone about it. It shouldn't be taboo to be depressed. You should be able to be really open about it. And have people care. Especially in the black community, we just completely ignore mental illness all together. So things like depression you just don't have the luxury to say 'yo I'm going through it right now.' I just want to show people that this shit is real. Not just internet people, but everyday people out there."
– On the EP, there are two polar opposite styles used. On "Hit Me Up," "I'm Depressed," and "Blame It On Me," it’s a melodic style, but on "Where Yo Head At" and "What's Popping," it's very aggressive. So where do those two very different approaches come from?
"That's the duality of me. That's why everyone gets super surprised whenever I perform, because that's where all my energy and feeling and angst come out. Because in real life I'm just super nice and super chill. But when I perform, that's where I get all that stuff out that I feel. So it's really energetic. I wanted to showcase that duality in the EP. I'm funny and I'm nice. You hear that in "Hit Me Up" and "I'm Depressed" and "Blame It On Me" but also I have like another side where I'm just like 'fuck! I need to throw hands.' I don't know.
– What else would you say influenced this EP?
“Forsure Lil Yachty and D.R.A.M. For that "Broccoli" song," I was like I want to make a song like that but I'm gonna flip it on it's head. That's what "I'm Depressed" feels like. It feels like an alternative version of "Broccoli." Also there's a "Broccoli" reference in it, because I feel like the beat sounded "Broccoli"-esque that's why I'm like "Ain't no telling what I'm finna blow off." Yeah. Also one time someone said I look like Lil Yachty and D.R.A.M. put together. So there's that."
Ka5sh is a meme-savant. But for someone who can help a random Facebook page called "I play KORN to my DMT plants, smoke blunts all day & do sex stuff" amass over 130,000 likes and make an absurd phrase like ‘supreme witchpussy’ go viral, it has to be frustrating not to be able to have that same immediate effect promoting his own music.
"I feel really suck about putting out songs because whenever I put out memes it's like 2,000 retweets, 20,000 likes, ok this did good. But with a song I'm like 4,000 view, that sucks."
– How does it feel that your memes are getting more attention than your music right now?
"It frustrates me. That's what made me decide to combine them both together into one experience. To avoid that. That's why I made that Chip Skylark thing to incorporate both, then you realize that my music doesn't suck. I think that's also a thing, that people don't know that I make music, they think that my music sucks off the bat and then they hear it and are like, 'Oh you don't suck, this is really good.' So I have to like trick you into knowing that it's good or something, I don't know, that's the hardest thing. I don't know how to break past the point where people know who you are. . .I want to be a pop star. I want to be Beyonce. I have huge goals. I just don't want to be comfortable at just being good at the underground."
– Where would you say you see yourself in a year from now?
"I would like to be where D.R.A.M. is at when he put out "Cha Cha." I feel like I should keep pushing "I'm Depressed" for a little bit, that could be my "Cha Cha."
He might not be as big as Beyonce yet, but it’s working. He’s getting attention. A lot of it. Some unwarranted. He’s unwillingly in the middle of what could be the world’s first “meme-rap” beef with UNMASKED alumni and internet connoisseur Ugly God.
We can barely get through this next part of the conversation without laughing at every sentence, fully self-aware of the absurdity of what we’re discussing. Indulging in sarcastic banter.
– What's the story behind Ugly God's random DM diss to you?
"I literally still to this day do not understand. I keep thinking about it. I've only met Ugly God one time at F.Y.F. backstage, it was me, Lil Mayo, this dude Nappy Boy, just a whole bunch of random people. Everyone was talking, I handed him the microphone before he went on. So yeah, I thought we were chill, but he didn't know, I didn't introduce myself. But that was my only interaction I've ever had from him. And then he just DM'd me out of nowhere, I've never favorited his tweets, I’ve never followed him on anything. He just DM'd me that weird paragraph saying that I'm not a trendsetter and that I'm just a 'regular Twitter meme maker' I'm not a 'real meme maker' and I don't that "OC" is the abbreviation for "Original Content."
– That's such a weird thing to say by the way. Such a weird thing. Almost like he was kidding. It's a weird 4Chan/ Reddit joke.
"Yeah, someone said it was ‘copypasta’ but it would have been a very specific ‘copypasta’ so it couldn't have been. If it was a ‘copypasta’ it was edited specifically to pertain to me."
– It was the weirdest message ever to me. So strange. So are you thinking about recording a diss track?
"I think so, to retaliate, to show that I am the supreme meme rapper. Also because he doesn't make memes and that bothers me that he did that. Because most of his meme pages are just weird pictures and videos that he found. Maybe he edits some of the videos, I don't know, but at least for the pictures he puts on them they're just weird ass pictures he finds on the internet. So I'm out here actually making memes, I've been making memes for years, not just on Twitter. I don't know man.”
– It's so odd. It's so strange that we're even talking about a "meme beef."
Ka5sh’s memes have caught on, his music is getting there too. “Blame It On Me” has a very refined sound, something you wouldn’t expect from his first solo work. “I’m Depressed” is not only catchy, but poignant, and has a realistic chance to go as viral as any of his memes.