Decoding the phenomenon of “black clown king” Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok?

Khaby Lame – the black guy who specializes in destroying bulky and silly tips on TikTok is truly a star of this social network. But how?

When Italy entered a state of lockdown for the first time in 2020, Khabane Lame lost his job at a factory in Turin. A low-paid job, but brought him a little income enough to survive.

While looking for a new job, Lame spent all day at his parents’ house in Chivasso with his three siblings. Until one day, he downloaded TikTok – a video social networking platform from China to his phone, created an account called Khaby Lame and started making the first videos in a cramped bedroom.

Then, a legend was born!

Decoding the phenomenon of the black man, Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok? - Photo 1.

Initially, like many other TikTokers, Lame made dancing videos, watching clips and doing funny actions. They get decent views, but things only took a hit earlier this year, when Lame decided to make funny videos about silly life hacks. It’s simply “reaction” videos, showing how pointless such tips can be when they could be made simpler, accompanied by a shrug with an amused face. .

Now, Lame (pronounced “Lah-May” not “Lêm”) is a top TikTok celebrity with over 114 million followers, trailing only Charli D’Amelio, a teenage dancer from California. . The 21-year-old black man didn’t need to say a word. But on TikTok, it’s a sound-shaped silence.

“I came up with ideas like these after seeing so many silly hacks videos, and wanted to come up with a simplified solution for them,” explains Lame.

“That particular shrug came by accident, but the silence didn’t. I had to find a way to get the video to reach as many people as possible. And the best way to do that was to say nothing. .”

Unique style

Lame is of Senegalese origin and has a very lively face. In most of his videos, he often remakes other people’s videos with extremely complicated tricks, replacing them with simpler and more logical ones, accompanied by his very emotional face.

But perhaps there isn’t much to describe, just watch the video below and you’ll understand immediately.

The most special thing is probably the way Lame reacts to these tips. After proving them silly, Lame will have a very characteristic action: point both hands at what he just did, his face saying “how about this” with a roll of his eyes or a shake of his head. looking extremely… depressed.

Without saying a word. But that expression became Lame’s characteristic, and turned him into the most special content creator on social networks.

“Maybe because the expression on my face looks interesting and makes people laugh. I like that,” – Lame shared.

Decoding the phenomenon of the black man, Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok? - Photo 3.

Christina Ferraz, founder of an advertising agency in Houston (Texas), said Lame’s popularity shows that non-verbal communication is truly the most effective way to overcome language barriers between cultures.

“You don’t have to speak to people to understand,” – Christina Ferraz commented.

Why make life complicated?

Lame has many fans from all over the world. The way he makes content also makes many people interested. They often sent Lame videos of simple actions being performed in complicated ways, and asked Lame to “take action”.

“They know I’ll handle it so they’ll tag me, like ‘It’s your turn Khaby, handle it, we need you.'”

That expression turned Lame into a famous “meme”, used a lot in other videos on social networks. But what’s worth mentioning is that unlike other stars, Lame’s videos are not “overwhelmed”. It’s always that simple, just using action and visuals to provide entertainment. Even if imitated, people will only remember Khaby Lame. It makes what he does unique, and reaffirms his goal of making life less complicated, Ferraz said.

Decoding the phenomenon of the black man, Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok? - Photo 4.

Ferraz also believes that the reason Lame’s content became so popular is partly because he appeared while the world was blocked due to the epidemic.

“People turn to social networks more, as a way to escape reality and find connection,” – Ferraz said. “Silenceless videos help the audience focus on Lame’s actions, and nothing is more appropriate than the way he did it.”

Khaby Lame is also one of the TikTok content creators with the strongest growth. Every day, he receives nearly 200,00 followers, gradually becoming the most famous star. However, as Lame revealed in an interview, fame was not the reason he started making videos.

Decoding the phenomenon of the black man, Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok? - Photo 5.

“I don’t care about becoming the 2nd or 4th most famous person on TikTok. I make videos because I want people to laugh freely during the blockade,” – Lame said. “And I will continue to make videos like that. I’m happy about my achievements, but that’s not the main purpose.”

Global face

Khaby Lame was born in Senegal, but moved with his parents to Italy when he was less than a year old. He spent his childhood in government-provided housing, which Lame believes protected him from racism, and exposed him to worlds beyond Italy.

“There are people of many ethnicities there, so we protect each other. There has never been any racism there.”

Although he speaks Italian fluently and considers Italy his home, Khaby Lame has not actually been recognized as a true Italian citizen. He applied for citizenship to get an Italian passport, because it would better support him when traveling to events in many other countries (like the US).

Decoding the phenomenon of the black man, Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok? - Photo 7.

But regardless of nationality, it does not affect Khaby Lame’s reputation and ability to connect internationally. “TikTok black guy” now has 47 million followers on Instagram, receiving many invitations to cooperate from international brands. Lame himself refuses to disclose his income from advertising contracts, but in reality, a social network star can earn millions of dollars a year just from creating content.

Decoding the phenomenon of the black man, Khaby Lame: Without saying a word, why does every clip have millions of views on TikTok? - Photo 8.

After Khaby Lame becomes famous, in other words, he will have a small income. But even so, he still maintains a simple lifestyle. The most expensive item he bought since then was just an iPhone 12, and also to shoot better for work. Compared to 18 months ago, his life has changed a lot, from a bright unemployed youth to a social networking phenomenon. As for Lame’s parents, they are proud of him.

“They realized I was a celebrity quite late. Actually I am too, you don’t realize your change until it’s really obvious,” – Lame shared . “Before, my parents didn’t set any goals for me. The most important thing was that I was happy and got a good job.”

Currently Lame is living in Milan with his manager. His posts now attract the attention of celebrities, including his idol – actor Will Smith. With more and more TikTok stars signing contracts with movie companies, Lame is hoping that her childhood dream will come true: to co-star in a movie with her idol.

But that is for the future. For now, he’s still doing what he needs to do – destroying silly tricks with silence that speaks thousands of words.

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