Keeping Up With Bobrisky
First off, let’s just get this out-of-the-way…
Bobrisky is a tour de force. Unexpected and fairly unprecedented in his rise as Nigeria’s new cult social media phenom–taking over snapchat feeds and timelines diaspora-wide, Bobrisky can be seen in some ways as a humorous response to Nigerian’s fear of anything remotely outside of the perceived norm. A glimpse onto Bobrisky’s snap is a funhouse mirror of sorts held up towards Nigeria’s ideals–an obviously heterogeneous society that sets sights on a homogeneous, one-size-fits-all way of doing things. So how is it that in 2017, this particular Nigerian, who unapologetically challenges Nigeria’s idea of “normalcy,” is not only popular but thriving?
To help set things into context, Okunneye Idris-Olanrewaju aka Bobrisky, was born in Ebute Metta, Lagos. As the last child of a large, polygamist family, he grew up having the nickname “Bobo”, which later transformed into the first half of his new name for his new persona. He went on to attend the University of Lagos, where he received his bachelor’s degree in accounting, indicating a longstanding love of money. During his third year in university, Bobrisky opened his self-funded boutique in Ikeja, Lagos. His popularity began in university where he garnered accolades for his sense of style. His popularity merged onto snapchat when he began to share videos of his infamous whining. He continued to gather more and more snapchat views in 2016 thanks to his often-mentioned mysterious, “bae,” Bob’s alleged lover and wealthy benefactor. Following the introduction of “bae,” Bob’s popularity quickly skyrocketed and between October to November 26, 2016, Bobrisky was named the most searched individual in West Africa by Google.
On June 10th, Bobrisky was half way into his U.S. “tour” (comprised of club appearances) and his next stop was D.C. Through PSAs on his snapchat, he had put out the word that he was looking for a photographer and makeup artist to help him, “slay these bitches.” Of course us here at OneTribeMag saw the call to action of “slaying bitches” as our calling and we immediately sprung into action. Later that evening we found ourselves at Bobrisky’s hotel with none other than Ronke Raji, one of the DMV’s top makeup artists. Upon entering his room, we didn’t know what to expect. Two women greeted us and Bobrisky laid in his bed in full diva glory, barely batting an eye at us. After a brief introduction and a long wait, Ronke was ready to deliver a “beat” hand delivered from the gods. No seriously, it was transfixing, seeing him transform from his natural state to the amped up, airbrushed state of glamour that we all have come to associate with Bobrisky.
During this preparation, his phone never left his hand. I’ve never seen someone take so many selfies in a 5-minute time span. (Note: he doesn’t use a regular selfie stick, his comes equipped remote control buttons and preset filters — there’s truly levels to this.) Scrolling through his snaps he stops and says “look at this,” reads compliments from his fans and shows his phone to everyone. He has an undying thirst to be loved, and everyone around him quickly learns this. He casually points out the fact, that the phone in question (a brand new Iphone 7 red), is a gift from “someone who wants him.” “Guys are always buying things for me like I don’t have money, trust me I have money,” and he didn’t let us forget it. His love for money is unparalleled. Every other sentence was a story of how he charges people to hang out with him or how these clubs are paying him “RACKS” to show up. It’s no wonder he wants to start charging a monthly fee for his fans to view his snapchat. “Out of all my followers, think about, it at least 250 will subscribe…N10000 a month each, you do the math.” All of a sudden, Jay-z’s iconic ode to his hustler spirit started echoing in my head,”I ain’t a businessman, I’m a Business, man” and everything started to make more sense.
“I DON’T HAVE FRIENDS, I HAVE MONEY“
Vanity and money can be their own demons but there was a quiet aura of depression surrounding Bob. Nigerian culture does not want to truly accept him, his bae doesn’t want him to be famous, and he doesn’t have many friends. I asked him if his friends are coming to pick him up and he looked me dead in the eye and replied, “I don’t have friends, I have money.” For once, everyone in the room was laughing, except for him. He was dead serious. Looking back at that moment, it was quite overwhelming.
Through the trolls, memes, comments, he rises above it all and laughs his way to the bank. However, at times he seems to show signs of wanting to return to his old life. Maybe he’s in too deep and can’t stop now, maybe the money is worth being lonely in hotel rooms, or maybe these bit**es just need to be slayed.
So what do we actually know about Bobrisky? Where does his truth lie? In the wake of my time spent with Bobrisky, I believe that he is truly one of the most misunderstood individuals to rise to fame in West Africa, within recent memory. For the better part of our visit, I observed Bob as he entertained and engaged in various conversations about his life. Spending time with Bob made the irony of our ever-evolving forms of communication and social media exceeding clear. As much as we feel that we know who Bobrisky is through what is portrayed online, he still is enigma that we truly don’t know. Being honest, it took me a few minutes to be able to handle the reality of the man I have been following on snapchat for almost a year. With all of that being said, it’s quite clear that I don’t have the answers to the aforementioned questions. Apart from the fact that this guy truly loves his money (he made sure we would all remember this part for the rest of our lives), one important thing I took away from our time with him is that Bob isn’t some walking caricature–he is human.
As humans, we have 3 truths: our truth, another party’s truth, and the actual, unbiased truth. For Bobrisky, the majority of his fans (and haters) have examined his life through the lens of another party’s truth. We have never truly experienced Bobrisky by understanding his truth or better yet the unbiased truth. Within the 6 hours we spent with him, Bobrisky slowly let down different walls and became more open. We not only got a chance to know bobrisky, we got a glimpse of Idris.
The first thing about Bob is that he is loyal and in return expects loyalty. If you’re an avid viewer of his snapchat, this is probably old news to you, but I think we underestimate his loyalty. Remember when he told us he had no friends but the Benjamins (or shall we say, “Azikwes”.) Bobrisky shared stories of his “friends” doing unfriendly things like, sleeping with his former baes or even turning their back on him for money and a small taste of fame. He described himself as the type of friend that wants to be able to share and create memories, and have their backs, no matter what it takes. The sincerity in his voice made me realize that while this man may be preoccupied with a world where his only worries are Snapchat and Instagram haters, he is still very much in tune with reality and like the rest of us desires true human connection.
One last thing to get out of the way–Bobrisky is not using men (and women) solely for money and gifts. Yes, people come and gift him brand new Iphone 7 plus, house, cars, and so on, but Bobrisky does not beg these people for any of the items. One thing about Bob is that he has an entrepreneur’s mindset: he make sure his money is always coming in. I remember him saying “I don’t want it to be that one day bae dies and I’ll have nothing set up for myself.” Even though Bob will not date you if you are broke (sorry broke suitors), he has his own income coming in. Simply to put it, he doesn’t need your money but you will spend it on him, if you want him.
At the end of day, haters, Bob was FU*@!ng slaying.
After Ronke worked her magic, we invited them to have a little chit-chat and talk about the things that matter most, such as scamming, makeup and slaying. Watch Below!