The best Snapchat video ever taken was of an all-black screen and captioned “Im sitting in the dark with my niggas.” No one spoke for all six seconds, it was a silent movie. Thank you, Rick Ross. The fourth-best Snapchat video ever taken (skipping the second-best, in which DJ Khaled got lost at sea) was of Ross and his fiancée at the time, Lira Galore, racing home in one of his expensive cars, her body squirming against the steering wheel because she had to pee so badly. She screamed, “I have to go to the bathroom, stop laughing!” Oh, and the third-best was posted ten minutes later, after Rick Ross had roamed his driveway and admired the wheel wells of his parked cars, their gleaming bodies, their windshield details, and the hood ornament of a Rolls Royce. Then he panned to his now-ex, who was still in the driveway, screaming: “Please let me in! I can’t find a bathroom!”
Rick Ross uses Snapchat for the same reasons as anyone else—for promotional purposes and when he’s bored, and he’s bored a lot. Sometimes he’ll take the elevator in his home up one floor and then back down, providing a quick reminder that he has an elevator in his home. He loves to show off his toys, whatever form they may take: three-foot jets, action figures, furs, shoes, or a shelf full of Charles Dickens novels. “You know we only buy niggas’ whole catalogs,” he said once. Another time, he climbed into the driver’s seat of his BMW, as a curious way to prove to viewers that he could fit in a Ferrari. (Are Ferraris and BMWs the same size? Imagine Mythbusters but with Rick Ross.) In Ross’ world, there’s always something new to show off, whether it be a new WingStop location or Gunplay popping by for a visit, or his chef Amaris Jones serving up a salad topped with a vinaigrette made from Belaire Rosé, the sparkling wine Ross endorses.
Predictability has already created real heroes on Snapchat, like DJ Khaled. But I think people who figure out how to use the platform unpredictably will capture our attention for the longer run. Kids will one day remember Khaled’s “keys to success” like pre-millennials think of pogs or Pokemon, but people following along now, who’ve already learned how to water and name plants, must be tired of watching re-runs. The repetition, if fascinating, can feel mind-breaking. Khaled has even simplified the most interesting relationship, his friendship with his 16-year-old shoe dealer, Benjamin Kickz, to a series of catchphrases. “How’s business, Ben?” Khaled asks. “BOOMIN,” the boy responds. Over time, I’d rather be a fly on the wall in Ross’ McMansion, watching as he speaks to the statues dotting his property, or tries a glass of beet juice with suspicion: “It’s not bad, shouts to Amaris.” At Ross’ house, there will always be new yachts, new packages, and new guests: his massage technician, for instance, who rubs the folds of his scalp.
Requiring only battery life of our own, Snapchat has given us windows into previously unseen worlds. It solves a Very American Problem: we’d rather watch someone else live their lives than do that ourselves; now we don’t even have to tap our fingers to skip through segments. The app’s allure is something like the appeal of PewDiePie, the Swedish teenager who’s built an empire by narrating his video game play for an audience of millions. And so it goes with Rick Ross, whose life is a fabulous cartoon, seemingly pulled from the pages of a SkyMall and drawn from the dreams of a six-year-old. What are we watching? Is this life? Is this art?
It’s going to be a huge bummer when we find out, at the pearly gates, that it was all just one long ad for Belaire Rosé. But for now, Rick Ross’ Snapchat is better than whatever anyone else is selling.