Chances are, you’ve heard of Jake Paul.
The 20-year-old YouTube/Vine celebrity and quasi-rapper, formerly of the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark, has morphed into an A-lister among teens and is gradually earning name recognition among adults. Paul has 10 million subscribers on YouTube, where he posts original tracks and vlogs with his Team 10 crew, and nearly that many followers on Instagram, where he posts performance pics and solemn solo shots.
He is controversial: Paul has been accused of racism, bullying and making his L.A. neighborhood “a living hell,” all over the past few months. He is also becoming commercially viable: Two of his more viral songs cracked the Billboard Hot 100 this year, including the party-rap posse cut “It’s Everyday Bro,” which has earned 110 million YouTube views.
Paul is not on this week’s Hot 100; however, a response song to “It’s Everyday Bro” — subtly titled “Its Everynight Sis” — debuted at No. 80. The diss track comes from RiceGum, a fellow YouTube celeb, and Alissa Violet, who is Paul’s ex-girlfriend; “Its Everynight Sis” is an evisceration of Paul, that questions his moral character, sexual prowess and mainstream fame (“Stop bragging, just accept nobody knows your Disney show!” goes one refrain).
The “Sis” backstory involves a cheating scandal, Disney executives, allegations of abuse, a possibly fabricated Las Vegas marriage and a luxury Los Angeles mansion run by teenagers. The teen social media stars are growing up, and it’s getting sordid.
This story begins in 2013, when Paul, then 16 years old and attending high school in Cleveland, discovered the now-defunct Vine platform. The six-second comedy videos that a baby-faced Paul posted to his account were harmless at first, and actually pretty funny — think handing out lemons to random passersby (“when life gives you lemons, what would you do?” Jake squeals in one video), or proposing to a stranger in a crowded cafeteria.
By the time the app shut down in January, Paul had accrued 5.3 million followers and 2 billion plays, and had helped popularize the catchphrases “it’s everyday bro” and “dab on ’em haters.” Within his 388 YouTube videos, you’ll find Paul has graduated to more eye-catching (not to mention expensive) pranks, like staging a sleepover at the White House and ordering $215 worth of pizza to his brother’s house. (Oh, right: Paul has an older brother, Logan, who is also a Vine and YouTube comedy star.)
Paul met Alissa Violet, a fellow Vine-r based in Ohio, at a mall on Violet’s last day of high school. It wasn’t long before the two were dubbed “Jalissa,” moving to California together to start Paul’s Team 10, a social media incubator of sorts based out of a luxury home in Los Angeles. The teen power couple were, as Violet puts it in a recent tell-all YouTube video for her 2 million subscribers, “head over heels.”
Last February, Violet began posting tear-stricken, concerning videos to Snapchat, alleging that Paul was kicking her out of the Team 10 house. The snap set off a social media war, with both taking to Twitter to accuse the other of cheating. “Predicted this is what she’d do. Jalissa WAS real. The problem is she cheated on me. I am the victim, not her,” read one since-deleted tweet from Paul. Violet fired back: “How could Jalissa be real when he had girl after girl over every single night in front of me?”
In June, Violet opened up about her relationship with Paul in a video to fans, describing an emotionally abusive situation. “He would play all these mind games,” Violet says of Paul in the video. “He would literally tell me he loved me one day, then tell me he hates my fucking guts the next day.” Paul, meanwhile, was days away from having “It’s Everyday Bro,” released in May, debut on the Hot 100.
How could Jalissa be real when he had girl after girl over every single night in front of me?
— Alissa Violet (@AlissaViolet) February 21, 2017
I think she is super talented & means well deep down,however I can’t have her in my space after having my heart broken.We will work it out??
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) February 22, 2017
Much of “It’s Everyday Bro” is a veiled takedown of Violet: Paul references kicking her out of the Team 10 house (“And you know I kick them out, if they ain’t with the crew”) and their social media feud (“Yeah, I’m talking about you, you beggin’ for attention, talking shit on Twitter, too”). The track became Paul’s first appearance on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 94, and the Team 10 crew celebrated by upsetting their L.A. neighbors with more over-the-top stunts, which allegedly included setting furniture on fire in an empty swimming pool.
Paul’s neighbors finally took their frustrations with the Team 10 house to the press, calling the situation a “living hell.” Disney subsequently cut all ties with Paul.
It took less than one month after “Bro” was released for Violet to drop a response track with the help of RiceGum, a.k.a. Bryan Le, another YouTuber known for diss tracks, whose 8 million subscribers rivals Paul. “Sis” is even more relentless than “Bro”: in the viral video, Violet and RiceGum bounce around in front of a luxury Los Angeles mansion and yellow Lamborghini, with the duo claiming that Paul pays for sex and bullied kids in school. (The latter tidbit came from a former Paul class mate whose tweet about younger Jake went viral).
Adding to the mix, Paul dropped a new track called “Jerika” on July 12, supposedly referencing his recent marriage in Las Vegas to new girlfriend, YouTuber Erika Costell (3 million subscribers), which may or may not be legit. Regardless, the song became Paul’s second track to hit the Hot 100, where it reached No. 86 in August.
Also in mid-July, Logan Paul posted a song on YouTube where he tries to attack his brother. At one point, Paul goes in for a kiss with Violet and raps, “used to be your chick, now she’s in the Logang.” The Jake Paul backlash may have peaked in early August thanks to a comment he made on-camera to a Kazakhstani fan that many decried as racist: “It sounds like you’re just going to blow someone up. Send the nuke!”
But RiceGum and Violet’s “Sis” started picking up steam on Aug. 18, when Paul accused Violet’s new boyfriend, the YouTuber FaZe Banks, of assaulting Paul’s assistant at a nightclub. Violet responded with a string of furious tweets, calling the accusations against FaZe “absolutely sickening” and asking fans, “Do you guys know why I have a bunch of scars and permaninant [sic] bruises on my body?” FaZe denied the allegations and helped start #CloutGang with Violet and RiceGum, to formally rival Paul’s Team 10.
— FaZe Banks (@Banks) August 19, 2017
— Alissa Violet (@AlissaViolet) August 19, 2017
— RiceGum (@RiceGum) August 19, 2017
This week, “Its Every Night Sis” became both RiceGum and Violet’s first appearance on the Hot 100 by receiving a boost in streaming and digital downloads: 2,000 downloads and 8.4 million U.S. streams to date, according to Nielsen Music, though the track hasn’t hit radio…yet.
As tangled as the feud leading up to the Hot 100 debut might seem, this kind of drama is well-known in the YouTube sphere. User Keemstar (real name Daniel Keem) has accrued 2 million subscribers for his series “DramaAlert,” a quasi-news broadcast focused on turmoil between social media stars, which often mentions the Paul brothers. But it’s hardly ever been enough to propel two hip-hop tracks (“Bro” and “Sis”) to the pop charts. (Billboard reached out to all artists involved for comment, but had not heard back from any as of publishing.)
Paul’s response to the pronounced backlash has been a new track owning up to various wrongdoings called “F**K JAKE PAUL.” “You’re right when you’re hating on me. I’m agreeing with you guys,” Paul says in a clip at the end of the video, offering shades of Justin Bieber at the start of his own comeback. “I’m trying to own up to my mistakes, and become a better person.”
The video ends with a challenge for fans to submit their own Jake Paul diss track. The lucky winner will be flown out to Los Angeles to take part in a brand-new music video with Paul himself — which could well hit the Hot 100 itself.