Blue-eyed felons, Pharrell's hat, Tim Howard blocking everything from soccer balls to bullets, Kim K and a variety of glazed objects—we were bombarded with memes in 2014. Bill Cosby even thought it was smart to become one. (It wasn't.)
An upstart meme, #UnexpectedThugLife, was just beginning to gain traction in the latter half of 2014—and it's a meme you'll soon be seeing everywhere.
Unlike most memes, which are picture based, "Thug Life" uses YouTube videos that feature (1) a wild twist and (2) classic rap music—the things you already can't get enough of on the Internet. According to Know Your Meme, one of the earliest known videos of the series was uploaded to YouTube in June 2014. It features a little boy reviewing a NERF gun. Seems innocent enough—until he tries to remember the toy's name, and, well...
The 22-second video now has more than 1.4 million views.
If it seems familiar, that's because the meme can be traced back to two other ones. It draws influences from "How to Shut Down a Ho" and the classic “I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me” meme:
Most of the videos blew up once the subreddit r/UnexpectedThugLife was created near the end of 2014. It's accumulated more than 140,000 subscribers in nearly two months, with 20,000 joining on December 30. What's so great about this meme, and why it just may be with us for the long haul, is that there are hundreds of video and music combinations to mesh.
There are celebrity videos, like the ones that feature Richard Dawkins or Bill Gates jumping over a chair to "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" by the Geto Boys.
Or videos of thuggish ruggish kids who show no fear in the face of convicts, or their parents.
And it wouldn't be a proper meme without animals who have no time for foolish human things like birthday cake. Or losing. Or buses.
One of the craziest videos shows journalist Ross Kemp staring down the gunmen trying to rob him and his crew in Papua New Guinea (while Method Man and Redman's "Da Rockwilder" plays in the background).
But not all journalistic "Thug Life" moments require dangerous situations.
Then there are those that feature nutty old people going off their rockers to the tunes of Dre and DMX:
And some videos featuring—because why the hell not—cars:
You get the point.
If you're anything like me, you'll probably go on Spotify after watching a few of these and replay some of the tracks. That's one of the reasons why this meme appeals so much to me—they contain comedy and nostalgia.
Memes come and go. #UnexpectedThugLife will be forever. (Hopefully.)