Comedy rapper Baked Alaska may be funny, but is he serious? The 26-year old stars in YouTube videos as an affable, proud Alaskan stoner who raps about climbing glaciers and trapping grizzly bears, fusing hip-hop stereotypes with the Klondike flair of a hipster Brawny Man. Raised in Alaska but now residing in the rather balmier climate of Los Angeles, Baked—who declines to give his real name— spent eight years in the music industry managing bands before putting his mastery of the dark arts of internet marketing to work concocting the Baked Alaska persona.
Somehow, it seems to be working. From the rapid-fire release of eight self-financed music videos in the past six months have emerged thousands of fierce Baked Alaska loyalists known as the Baked Fam. His minions share red-eyed selfies on Twitter, encouraging each other to #staybaked while throwing the Baked Alaska “sign”—the decidedly un-gangster American Sign Language hand motions for the letters ‘A’ and ‘K.’ He’s currently working on a mix tape of collaborations with more established artists, such as Keon B, formerly of the rap duo Speakers.
On the other hand, his silly rhymes and squirm-inducing videos (some featuring adorable cats) have generated an Alaska-sized avalanche of internet scorn from those who see him simply as the most recent graduate of the Riff Raff School of Hip Hop Trolling. With the rapper passing through Las Vegas recently to shoot the video for his single “#StayBaked,” (below, featuring 2014 AVN Awards “Hottest Ass” nominee Gia Steele), we had to ask: is he a marketing genius, the post-modern poet laureate of Alaska or is the joke on us?
Do you consider yourself a satirist?
I am not a parody. I am a real person. I believe in making real, genuine connections. I write, produce and record my own songs. I make my own beats. This is who I am!
Explain your “look.”
It came together piece by piece. I wanted to be unique. I asked myself, “What style does a rapper NOT have?” Oh, a 1980’s porn ‘stache? Ok. How about a mullet? How creepy can I look? I ended up challenging myself to be confident. It turns out that girls really do like the mustache, though.
You have a music marketing background. Are you using your knowledge from that field to help build a fan base?
I love Twitter. Twitter has been huge for me. I use a lot of hashtags. I use analytic tools, I track my metrics. I see what works and what doesn’t, and it makes a difference. My engagement right now is insane. I have engagement that exceeds that of most major label artists. Basically what it comes down to, is the fact that I’m having actual conversations with people. I answer every single tweet and email I get.
What kicked off the idea to start creating YouTube videos?
Have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers? Do you know about the 10,000 Hour Rule? [Gladwell’s theory that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in any given field.] I love that book. I read it and I was thinking about the things in my life that I’ve done for 10,000 hours. I’ve always loved to make videos that make people laugh. That’s how I realized: that’s my “thing.” I direct and produce everything myself, so I’m setting up and controlling how I’m perceived. Am I a unicorn? Am I a douche? Am I making you cringe? It’s all on purpose.
There’s quite a bit of trolling in the comments on your videos. Do the negative comments bother you?
I’ve had death threats! What would make someone so angry they’d sit down for ten minutes and write a threatening letter? I’m from a family of eight kids, I’m a mediator. I’m good at connecting with all sorts of people. These days, when someone comments something negative my fans get on them and handle it. I try to tell them to keep it positive, though.
How do you come up with the ideas for your songs?
99% of the time, I start with the song title. Probably because of my marketing and branding background. It has to be short and sweet, like “Deadliest Catch” or “Seal Team.” Then I’ll write the song. My songs have layers and layers of meanings. They have double and triple meanings. Political topics can be depressing. If you’re going to drop the name Edward Snowden in a song, you have to find a way to make that cool — to educate without scaring off the kids.
What would you say to people who doubt your musical talent?
I love what I do. I’m having an awesome adventure and I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little kid. I just want to encourage people to pursue their dreams.