“It’s eleven pages and took me maybe six hours to write,” Daniel shares, still astounded. “Everything I do proves that anyone can do anything.” This obsequious philosophy has served him well. In addition to the novel, Daniel and then-friend Christine Sydelko created a successful YouTube channel that amassed 600,000 subscribers. A quick search shows Daniel still posts the occasional vlog, but it’s safe to say he has definitely left most of his YouTube career in the past. “I only did YouTube full-time for about a year,” he says. “I never really described myself as a YouTuber.” (It is unmistakably clear that Elijah Daniel is over – and not too keen to talk about – his history as a YouTuber.)
After his departure from the video-sharing site as well as his (questionably amicable) split with Sydelko, “LIL PHAG”, Daniel’s rap persona, was born. Scandalous name, right? Daniel is all about inciting a reaction or response. “I wanted shock value and to reclaim the word,” he says. “I was called faggot a lot in my life. Why not turn it into revenue?”
In July 2018, Daniel released his debut album, God Hates LIL PHAG. The album took six months to finish. “We had almost all the songs and demos done within about a month, but getting features finished and locked down took a while.” The comedic rap album has 13 tracks (including: “Four Loko,” “Clout 9” and “Iced Out Dick”) and a mélange of artists like cupcakKe, Bella Thorne and Dr. Woke, the latter of whom Daniel recently got engaged to (the proposal is on YouTube). The two met on Grindr and Dr. Woke (née Sam Fishman, also known as Sam F.) was a producer, so the two instantly hit it off.
Lil Phag, the rapper, is “currently on hiatus” as Daniel puts his lewder musical inclinations behind him. He is currently collaborating with Fishman as musical duo, Adam&Steve, which Daniel jokingly describes as The Gay Chainsmokers. “The vibe we’re going for is pop music you would want to blast on the highway with your windows down,” he explains. “We wanted to make a project where we could work with any artists we want across genre and make a great song, but still keep our sound.” He admits the creative process hasn’t changed much from Lil Phag’s. “It’s mostly just changing the mindset from, ‘I fucked your dad,’ to something you could listen to with your mom.”
The duo’s latest song, “Wherever You Are,” was released on Feb. 8 and found itself on over 20 of Spotify’s global New Music Friday playlists (including the U.S.). It saw similar support from Apple Music, where it was featured on editorial playlists in over 50 countries. “FUCK A LABEL WE TAKIN OVER,” Daniel tweeted, basking in the support from the streaming services.
Being an outspoken queer rapper is important to Daniel, who chose to take a comedic approach to his music accompanied by other recognized rappers to help normalize the oft-overlooked genre. “Having crazy lyrics about blowing everyone’s dad could opens up doors for other artists who are making more genuine queer music,” he shares. “I feel like being the most outrageous version of myself can help kids feel more comfortable being their normal selves.”
His sound began as more of a joke, but after touring, Daniel witnessed how younger kids were affected by his music. “It was actually heartwarming,” he says. “As ridiculous as it sounds, lyrics about sucking dick were actually helping people be more comfortable being open about themselves.”
Since his star began to rise, Daniel has become something of an activist for the LGBTQ community. One of his more popular stunts being the time he paid $100 to be mayor of Hell, Michigan, and outlawed heterosexuality using cut and paste copy from Trump’s Muslim ban. Daniel is also known to cause a stir online, particularly on Twitter.
“Everyone thinks it’s for self-promotion, but I’m literally just a douchebag who doesn’t care,” Daniel laughs. “Ninety-nine percent of everything I say is a joke. I just find beef fun. I’m blocked by everyone from Donald Trump to Kim Kardashian. It’s kind of a hobby. Instead of Pokémon cards I collect Twitter blocks from dumbasses.”
Daniel wasn’t always so confident in his queer identity. “My dad is a pastor and I have eight siblings, so I definitely had an interesting upbringing. I didn’t come out until I was about 20.” Fortunately, his parents were accepting. “I spent 20 years thinking I’d be shunned from the family.”
Now 25 and living in Los Angeles, Daniel is more confident than ever in his skin. “I was closeted when I first got into comedy, and when I came out I never wanted to be that ‘gay comedian,’” he says. “It wasn’t until I really started taking to fans and hearing their stories and everything they’ve gone through before I realized how important it is to be loud and be a voice for those who can’t be loud.”