Lil Tay is a foul-mouthed Asian child rapper and rising internet star whose videos are viewed by millions.
Is kid rapper Lil Tay just another child with a tiger mom?
She has more than 1.5 million followers on Instagram, although describing them as fans would be a stretch – they mostly delight in heaping her with abuse, in racist or crude terms that match her own lexicon.
The supposed nine-year-old has gone viral by flashing wads of $100 bills, railing against “f***ing broke-ass n*****s” and making ridiculous boasts of buying Lamborghinis, wearing $100,000 watches, hanging out with Kim Kardashian and living in a Los Angeles mansion after making a fortune “moving bricks” (selling drugs).
About the only thing that seems genuine is the vitriol hurled at her – “Asian bitch” expresses the general sentiment, while countless others ask: “Where are your parents?”
But in case it needs to be said: Lil Tay’s toe-curling rants – she uses the N-word with abandon – are performances, however ill-advised, and “Lil Tay” is just a persona. She styles herself as the “youngest flexer of the century” – hip hop slang for rap-styled braggartry.
Whether she is getting in a fight with Bhad Bhabie, aka the Cash-Me-Ousside girl, or with Instagram star Woah Vicky at Coachella music festival, or rap star Lil Pump (Lil Tay is littler, for the record), it’s all the same.
Lil Tay’s unlikely character is that of a Los Angeles gangster kingpin who commands an army of “shooters” from her mansion in the Hollywood Hills where her “toilet costs more than your rent.”
But in fact, Lil Tay seems to live in a pleasant apartment in downtown Vancouver, Canada, and appears to be putting on a show for her mother.
Although Lil Tay has filmed videos in sparsely furnished Los Angeles mansions, more telling is the walk-through video of the clearly occupied apartment with clothes in the wardrobe (“Gucci, Louis, Versace,” predictably) and a rumpled duvet on the bed. Lil Tay says it’s her home in “the Hills,” but the view out the window says otherwise, overlooking Vancouver’s Granville Street Bridge. The video was clearly shot in downtown Vancouver, in a False Creek condo.
In another video, a woman who is briefly seen filming Lil Tay’s R-rated antics appears to be Vancouver real estate agent Angela Tian; internet sleuths who concluded that Tian is Lil Tay’s mother simply googled the phone number given as the contact for Lil Tay’s management. The two women certainly look the same, although it has not been confirmed that Tian and Lil Tay are related.
Meanwhile, a different video, tagged as having been filmed in the Hollywood Hills, was actually shot in the car park of Vancouver’s Oakridge shopping mall, the South China Morning Post has discovered. The parking lot in the north tower of the suburban mall’s business wing, to be precise, where Angela Tian’s real estate office is located.
The South China Morning Post visited the very parking spot. A few meters away was parked a bright red AMG Mercedes convertible, identical to the car in the video.
Upstairs at Angela Tian’s office, a receptionist said she was unavailable and only came into work infrequently. A phone call to Tian’s number went to voicemail, which was full. Emails to Lil Tay’s management went unanswered.
Mo money mo problems
Whether or not Lil Tay herself is making any money is unclear, but other people certainly are.
YouTubers with highly monetized platforms have produced videos about or with Lil Tay that have garnered tens of millions of views since she rose to infamy late last year. The prominent YouTuber RiceGum (Bryan Le) received more than 11 million views for two videos roasting Lil Tay.
Her Instagram rants are watched and despised by millions, but Lil Tay’s only music video, Lil Tay – Money Way, has a modest 200,000 views on YouTube.
Many of Lil Tay’s early videos (say, from six months ago), have vanished from her Instagram account, which now boasts a scant 17 posts. But they are preserved for posterity on YouTube.
One shows her appearing to break character. Unlike her extant Instagram posts, the video is self-filmed. Her cheeks are flushed as she addresses people who have tried to get her social media accounts shut down in response to one of the roast videos by RiceGum, whom she calls a friend.
“If you actually think RiceGum is beefing with a nine-year-old then you might wanna think about that for a second.” Her voice trembles. “I have a dream, I’m trying to make my mom proud … if you don’t like me, just block me, I didn’t do anything to you.”
Her eyes well up. The tears look real enough.