imagine if ninja got a low taper fade

imagine if ninja got a low taper fade
Ninja, via the NFL.

I have been obsessed with this phrase over the past week or so. It came across my various feeds in that fragmented way I think of as characteristic of TikTok: I was seeing reactions way before I saw the actual event. Which is here:

imagine if ninja got a low taper fade

As you can see, it was sung by an artist named Ericdoa as part of a 2 hour long livestreamed freestyle, and it references both a haircut (the low taper fade in question) and a streamer (Ninja). It's seemingly gone pretty viral on TikTok; millions of views, thousands of riffs, etc. It's the kind of non-sequitur that almost feels like it could be out of the old, random~~!! XD internet.

Before I think too hard about this, I should mention that Ninja did in fact get a low taper fade — which he revealed to the world in a TikTok for the NFL.


Prophecy fulfilled 💀 #nfl #ninja #lions #detroitlions #lowtaperfade

♬ Low Taper Fade ericdoa - ericdoaclips

On stream, Ninja explained a bit further to a confused chatter in his stream. "Dude, if you weren't on TikTok, you don't understand. It was just this crazy meme," he said. "Like everyone's memeing this thing, it's crazy." And it is; the speed of TikTok meant that almost as soon as this clip went viral it was everywhere. And because it's TikTok, it wasn't just the clip — the audio went viral too. It's now the soundtrack to a ton of videos.

What I find funny about the whole thing is how the speed and insularity of TikTok means that the meme, such as it is, has already kind of reached the end of its life cycle — or at least the content cycle. That said, it's definitely raised Ericdoa's profile.

So, to recap: You've got a relatively unknown artist namechecking a famous streamer mid-2 hour freestyle, which got clipped and uploaded by a fanpage, which then became popular enough via TikTok's algorithm for the streamer to notice the clip — and then boost it further, such that social media managers for the NFL and the NBA began posting their own videos featuring the audio. The last part of the content cycle, the part that's happening now, is clips the original players reacting to their 15 seconds of TikTok fame on various video podcasts.

Here's Ericdoa talking about where the phrase came from:


@ericdoa explains his process on the viral "Low Taper Fade" clip. #partychat #partychatclips #gamingmemes #ninja #ninjamemes #music #musicmemes #lowtaperfade #ericdoa

♬ original sound - B/R Gaming

"So it's kind of really fucking depressing," he says:

This was the timestamp, 30-40 minutes in — damn near almost half an hour. At this point, like, it wasn't a joke anymore. It was becoming a full on therapy session. I was talking about things that actually truly bother me and make me upset. I think I was talking about the death of my grandfather. In my head I was like, 'I'm being too vulnerable on the internet. I need to make myself not cry right now. What's the one thing that I could do that's not gonna make me cry? If Ninja had a low taper fade!'

To me, the whole thing exemplifies why a lot of people find TikTok confusing. The network's intentional insularity means that it's extremely easy to miss things. And of course that's intentional; the app's algorithm is programmed to show you things you might like, based on what it knows of your interactions with it. If you're not part of TikTok's gaming, sports, or hyperpop buckets, there's almost no way you'd know or care whether or not Ninja got a low taper fade, you know?

The problem with that kind of insularity, though, is that it makes things that break containment absolutely inscrutable. A good example is probably the Stanley tumbler phenomenon; I can tell it's a legitimately good product, but I don't quite understand what the hype is, because it's not something that my corner of the internet is talking about. And I think it's this kind of thing that makes the internet much harder to follow, these days; there's no one conversation that people are participating in.

I guess what I'm saying is: it's not that we're past the era of main characters. It's just that they mostly exist where you can't see them.


some things i've been consuming lately

Selected and Last Poems, Ceslaw Milosz

The Last of Us Part II, Naughty Dog