Memes are acts of beautiful futility. They aren’t jokes, but they’re meant to be funny, and a great meme thrives through a lack of context — try to explain them, and they immediately become ineffective. Most importantly, all memes have a shelf life. The BoyBoy West Coast‘s “U Was At The Club (Bottoms Up)” was a great meme. It just got its official release but, unfortunately, it may be too late for it to capitalize on its viral status.
Let’s back up. Eight months ago, BoyBoy West Coast, a completely unknown rapper from Southern California, released a charming video of himself lip syncing to a then-unnamed song. The track itself was a fascinating facsimile of modern rap’s physical and sonic aesthetics — essentially a child’s version of a Pitbull song — acted out by a man with intensely groomed facial hair. His voice was a comically low growl left to marinate in AutoTune overnight, and he was singing about finding love in the club over a beat that sounded like it was made in a dark timeline version of 2007. As a piece of art, it was hard to objectively judge; to call it good would be an understatement. At the Instagram clip’s absurdist peak, BoyBoy drinks from a Styrofoam double cup that’s clearly empty, with sunglasses perched on his forehead. It was perfect.
Inevitably, the teens of TikTok got hold of it. The virality traveled downstream to the olds on Twitter. Diplo and Charlie Puth became fans. A Ramriddlz (the guy with the Drake song) remix appeared on SoundCloud. BoyBoy, months later, released a second verse, then went to Genius to explain the lyrics to his snippet — all without releasing an official version. People in on the joke kept listening, anticipation rose, then began to fall. The song is officially on all major streaming services, but it no longer feels like a can’t-miss event.
The BoyBoy West Coast’s trajectory in some ways mirrors that of Lil Nas X, in that he rode the same pathways to a version of success. However, while “Old Town Road” felt engineered for a particular kind of popularity (that it’s now eclipsed), “Bottoms Up” seemed like a piece of internet detritus that an audience decided, together, to force towards popularity. Now, it’s likely hurt by its proximity to the Number One song in America. BoyBoy’s viral moment was pre-“Old Town Road;” he’snow forced to operate in a post-“Old Town Road” world. The song missed its moment, the punchline feels deflated of any impact.
“U Was At The Club (Bottom’s Up)” was a piece of gorgeous art. Against all odds, it found an audience who loved it. Listening to it now, it’s easier to realize that, maybe, the song should have stayed a snippet. Republic Records could have ripped Instagram clip, uploaded it to streaming platforms, and kept the strange integrity of that initial discovery alive. You first came across The BoyBoy West Coast and his bizarre creation by accident; now, the title of the song now feels SEO-optimized.
What happens to a meme deferred? It dries up, like an IG snippet in the sun.