When YouTuber RiceGum, or Bryan Le, began his career, he initially started out as a streamer when he was 19, playing video games such as Call of Duty (CoD) live on the platform Twitch to an audience, and spicing up the routine with pranks and by inviting well-known Instagram stars onto his streams.
Living in Las Vegas, Nev. with his family after having diverged from his intended plan of becoming a doctor and believing his talents in basketball not enough to qualify for the big leagues, investing his time and energy into streaming after leaving the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) during his first year was a dicey gamble, but proved to be ultimately successful. His most popular stream exceeded twenty thousand live viewers.
After experiencing success on Twitch, he migrated to YouTube, where he began to make comedic videos and roasts on popular child stars, such as those of Musical.ly fame. His first viral video, which he later expanded to a series known as “These Kids Must Be Stopped,” helped to launch his career. And capitalizing on the latest trends, creating original raps and diss tracks, and collaborating with fellow online influencers, his audience grew rapidly.
His growth was so steep that he amassed five million subscribers in a period of 10 months, rivaling YouTuber Jake Paul, who broke records on the site for gaining five million subscribers in six months. His channel currently touts over ten million subscribers. After becoming an established YouTuber, he befriended FaZe, or Ricky Banks, the founder of gaming team FaZe clan, Instagram fitness model Sommer Ray, YouTuber WolfieRaps, and DJ and Instagram model Chantel Jeffries.
The young stars took the Internet by storm, and when teaming up with Alissa Violet, a YouTuber and Instagram model as well as former Vine star, their circle began to rival that of Jake Paul’s Team Ten, a social media star incubator that Paul aspires to one day be worth over one billion.
However, Violet was previously a member of Team Ten and a falling out with Paul prompted her departure. What had previously been roasts and disses intended as comedic insults by RiceGum evolved into tension as Paul insulted Violet in the infamous song, “It’s Everyday Bro.”
But to RiceGum, these feuds are part of a larger strategy, though he maintains they are all authentic, and he creates this content to grow his audience, not direct any sort of vitriol towards other creators.
“Probably all of my feuds are real,” RiceGum told the Daily Beast. “People think I’m the bad guy. But how it works is a person on the internet is someone will say something about me, whether it’s a full video of them clowning me, or just one comment. I will see if they have a lot of following where it would make sense to take time out of my day to acknowledge them. From there I make a video or a song of some sort.”
RiceGum said he doesn’t wish anything bad on anyone.
“After I drop that video it’s over with,” he continued. “I’m here trying to make videos to get views up and viewers like to watch this type of thing. If no one enjoyed this content I wouldn’t make it. Long-term drama doesn’t do anything for your channel, but it just so happens if there’s a scandal under your name more people are likely to check you out.”
Upon moving into the Clout House, which is what RiceGum and Banks called their luxury Hollywood Hills mansion, the trio began to collaborate more frequently, Violet and Banks eventually developing a relationship. The desirable property was previously rented out by celebrities including Justin Bieber, and is now resided in by the social media stars, giving it the moniker of ‘clout,’ or social media fame and influence.
Inspired by FaZe Clan and Team Ten among others, they founded Clout Gang, a group featuring RiceGum, Banks, Violet, WolfieRaps, Sommer Ray, rapper Ugly God, and recent recruit fellow YouTuber and model Carrington Durham.
After seeing Paul’s music video, in which Violet presumed the lines “And you know I kick them out if they ain’t with the crew” and “Yeah, I’m talking about you, you beggin’ for attention” among others were referring to her, she sought out RiceGum, who had previously released rap music and diss tracks towards other YouTubers, to collaborate with her on a diss track against Paul.
When he agreed, they began working on “It’s Everynight Sis,” the title declaring it was to be the antithesis of Paul’s rap. With producer Youssef Ali, who helped the track achieve its tremendous impact and vitality, they recorded the song in just one day, finishing in Ali’s home studio and wrapping up at 3:30 a.m. It was the only song that had been recorded in the studio at the time.
Nine months later, it went platinum, reaching over 140 million views on YouTube. With frenetic energy, Ricegum and Violet hurl insults at Paul in the video. At one point, RiceGum whirls a fidget spinner in front of the camera and Violet drapes live snakes around her neck as RiceGum raps, “We Gucci like the shirts with the snakes on them.” In front of the Clout House in a yellow Lamborghini, the duo clearly aimed for maximum impact, with an unrelentingly fast pace to the song and vividly colorful, flashy visuals.
Its success was unprecedented, though previous songs of his have garnered tens of millions of views as well but not yet been certified gold or platinum, and the unique identity of RiceGum, such as through his diss tracks and feuds with other YouTubers, contributed to its fast rise.
“When the song went platinum I was astounded because I’ve never seen a diss track rise so fast on the charts,” Ali told the Daily Beast. “Drake’s diss track didn’t even go platinum, so it’s rewarding to see. Diss tracks and drama are key to growth and engagement on YouTube especially in terms of sharing and virality. I knew when I heard the song that it would be a success, when I saw the video which helped drive a massive amount of downloads and streams and was shared all over the web.”
Violet agreed that controversy helped to propel their track onto the charts.
“I’d like to thank my mom,” Violet said during their platinum celebration party. “I’d like to thank my dad, and maybe, kind of RiceGum. I’d also like to thank the haters, because without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
As neither in the duo are professional musicians, Violet was amazed by the song’s success.
“We went platinum on ‘Everynight Sis,’ which is crazy,” Violet said. “Because we didn’t even try that hard… so when we filmed ‘It’s Everynight Sis,’ the studio burnt down because the song was too fire,” alluding to an unexpected fire that occurred in Ali’s studio.
Currently Violet’s success as a model continues independent from Paul, her recent photos during a trip to Norway amassing hundreds of thousands of likes each on Instagram, one currently sitting at 1.3 million likes, and her page boasting over eight million followers.
Meanwhile, RiceGum’s YouTube success shows no signs of stagnation as well. He was featured in a Super Bowl commercial alongside rapper Iggy Azalea for Monster headphones early this year, and his videos consistently garner millions of views.
And returning to his origins on Twitch and following in the footsteps of Logan Paul, who began streaming on the platform as well, RiceGum played the viral game Fortnite alongside model Charlotte Parkes recently to over ten thousand live viewers, interacting with fans, answering questions, and reading donations.
“Every day my main goal is just trying to grow my brand,” RiceGum told the Daily Beast. “Whether in the next five years if acting or music can help me grow, then I’m open. The acting scene is super intriguing, I may dabble. I’m a platinum recording artist now, it’s doesn’t seem that way, but wherever life takes me in the next five years then…I’ll be there.”
Violet initially worked at Panera Bread as Alissa Butler, her full name being Alissa Violet-Marie Butler, and Le was a part-time streamer and college student previously, RiceGum the Internet moniker he had begun testing out. Their success is a testament to the power of social media, and the foresight and determination of influencers to capitalize on it, taking risks and allowing the medium to highlight their unique talents and ability to capture and captivate an audience to the fullest extent. Both come from humble origins, and Le is half Vietnamese and half Chinese, so he may have faced barriers to entry in traditional Hollywood, no doubt now eliminated or eradicated by his success and large audience so that he can freely pursue multiple avenues currently. With no barriers to entry and accessibility to all on platforms such as YouTube, representation and visibility in media takes new routes and directions to create the stars known today.
And their unique voices are never stifled. Violet shares her journey with self-acceptance and loving her body despite pressures as a model, women’s empowerment, and the importance of girls supporting each other. Meanwhile, Le actively challenges stereotypes of Asian-Americans and is never afraid to share controversial opinions. A generation will grow up with personalities like them to watch and choose from, see diversity in opinion, culture and background, and believe in the possibility that they too can achieve their dreams and feel proud of where they come from because they see themselves represented.