For a fleeting, highly deluded moment last year, I thought Kanye West had followed me on Twitter. It didn't seem
entirely unreasonable that he liked my stream of silly jokes and hot takes. Two seconds later, though, my brain righted its original misreading: the follower in question was not @kanyewest, but plain @kanye, owned and managed by someone other than West himself. The account, which now has around 3,000 followers, alternates between regular civilian tweets and retweets of messages intended for the real Kanye, the latter of which offer some insight into the baffling reality of being famous online and about the public's complicated relationship with West. I caught up with Reginald Loud, the rapper who owns the handle, to find out what it's like being mistaken for the world's most polarizing man.
Who are you? My name is Reginald Doucet, Jr. I'm 24 and I live in Northern Virginia. I'm a youth soccer coach but outside of that, I'd like to think that I don't spend much time IRL. I got my first computer back in '99 and I haven't been fully invested in the offline world since.
Are you a Kanye fan? Absolutely! At least, I'd say I am but it's hard to really figure out where I fit amongst the current crowd of Kanye West fans. A lot of his music has been very important to me but at the same time, post-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I'm used to seeing a lot of people deify him to an extent that makes me feel like I'm not even much of a fan relative to them.
How long have you had the @kanye handle? Why did you choose it? I've had the @kanye handle for going on two years now but I wouldn't say that I necessarily chose it. At the time I got it I was mostly just interested in having a really noteworthy Twitter handle and I just lucked into being at the right place at the right time. It was given to me by some teens who had used it to run a Kanye West parody account for a few days. By the time I ran across them, they had run out of ideas to tweet about and were kind of looking for a way out of the pressure they felt came along with the handle.
A lot of your timeline is retweets of people who have mistaken you for him. Some of those tweets are benign, but others are really mean and hurtful. Does it ever get to be too much? The only tweets that are meant for Kanye West that really bring me down are when people say gross things about Kim. More often than that I get racist comments directed at 'Ye, but I'm much more comfortable dealing with those because I've dealt with racism on a much more personal level my whole life. Getting judgmental and misogynistic things said about Kim bothers me every time, though. It hits me as if somebody has said something gross about my mother, one of my sisters or one of my friends who are women. A lot of them are grotesque to the point where I don't even feel comfortable retweeting them. Sometimes I might just curse the person out or just block them without even saying anything back.
What's a regular day in @kanye's mentions like? Most of the time I don't get as many mentions intended for Kanye West as one would think. Usually it's just random @s from people scattered throughout the day. Some days I don't get any @s meant for him. It only gets really interesting whenever he's in the news. For example, on the nights of virtually any televised award show (especially if it's one that he's in attendance for), I'm likely to get a lot of tweets. If he's there, it's people just speculating on what he's going to do. And if he isn't there, I get tweets just saying things to the tune of, "Where's @kanye when you need him (to take the microphone/award away from x)??".
What's the best part about owning the handle? I think the best part of owning the @kanye twitter handle is that when people run across my account for the first time, they're much more likely to follow me than they would be if I were to have a more conventional handle. It's also really fun to encounter the initial disbelief people give me the first time I tell them what my handle is. The first time I told somebody about it at a party their first question was, "Okay, but how many E's?"
What's the wildest Twitter interactions you've had with people who have mistaken you for Kanye? I think the most noteworthy interaction I've had with someone who mistook me for Kanye West was the time a woman challenged me to an MMA-style fight with her husband for charity. As with a lot of weird mentions I get, I tried to go along with it. Most people who accidentally @ me fall into two camps: either they realize the mistake once I respond or RT them, or they lack the Twitter literacy to know how to find or respond directly to their mentions. What made this one so unique was that she not only had an absurd request, but she knew how to use Twitter enough to have a conversation with me and it still took her a few hours to realize that the person she was arguing with was not Kanye West.
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