U.K.-structured comedian Michael Dapaah does an over-the-top rapper character called Roadman Shaq, but his joke MC is definitely turning out to be a genuine hit. “Big Shaq” initial entered the spotlight when he freestyled on BBC radio’s Fire in the Booth, dropping two instantly quotable gems. The initial was “the ting proceed skrrra pap ka skidiki,” a mess of a gun-sound onomatopeia, and the second was “I tell her man’s not sizzling, I inform her man’s not hot / The girl told me, ‘Take off your jacket’ / I said, ‘Babes, man’s not hot.’”
“The ting go” and “man’s not hot” have both become huge memes in the U.K. since that freestyle in August. Also U.K. Labour head Jeremy Corbyn, beloved by left-wing memers as “the total boy,” offers gotten in on the Man’s Not Hot meme. Here he is at the Labour Party Conference, declining to take off his jacket:
Jeremy, don’t you wanna take off your jacket?”
“Man’s not hot”
— Novara Media (@novaramedia) September 28, 2017
Today Dapaah’s webseries featuring Big Shaq, Somewhere In London (#SWIL), is certainly taking off, and he’s released a more polished version of “Man’s Not Sizzling” as a single. The lyrics are ridiculous, but it sounds surprisingly good.
Big Ben’s Final Ting pic.twitter.com/GYs7a4hZFv
— Dolan Dark (@DolanDark) September 2, 2017
Her: 20 words 62 letters, say it and I’m yours
Him: the ting go skrra, pa pa ka ka ka skeedy ki pa pa and a poom poom prrrr boom skiya
— Tom (@tomxweaver) October 3, 2017
In September, Roadman Shaq started to cross over into the U.S. meme scene, leading to a global explosion of “skrrra pap ka” in both text and video form. It’s also the rare meme that has traction on both Twitter and Reddit. Over on YouTube, the music provides been remixed by popular memer Grandayy, who helped put huge musical memes like “We Are Number One” and “Shooting Superstars” on the map.
What makes this such a good meme? Its catchphrase appeal across networks and formats is normally undeniable, and the fact that it started as a video gives it the potential for very elaborate and very funny remixes. But, above all, it’s just that Big Shaq is an excellent character. He’s a goofy edition of grime MCs like Giggs and Skepta, whose style has been large in the U.K. for years, but who recently found a new North American audience with the discharge of Drake’s More Lifestyle mixtape. (Drake co-opted grime’s slang and delivery, and highlighted Giggs himself on two tracks.)
Dapaah isn’t the first black U.K. comedian to conquer the American meme landscape this year. Back in February, Roll Safe, a typical London character developed by actor Kayode Ewumi, became one of the hugest memes of the year. Americans may not have been familiar with the type of guy Roll Safe was spoofing, but the core of the joke was culturally general: a guy who thinks he’s intelligent but actually knows nothing. The same seems to be true of Big Shaq: You don’t need to know anything about grime MCs or U.K. rap to find the staccato sounds of “the ting move skrra” hilarious. And anyone can laugh at the macho guy who pridefully refuses to remove his coat because “the man’s not really hot.”
When U.S. memes get too stagnant and mired in current events, look to the U.K. for the next big factor. Hey, it proved helpful for Drake