Kevin Samuels, the polarizing YouTuber known for giving controversial relationship advice, has been trending on social media this past week after his unexpected death was confirmed by the Atlanta Police Department and his mother.
Officers were called to an apartment in Atlanta last week “regarding a person injured,” where first responders had already performed CPR on Samuels. A nurse in the apartment told authorities Samuels was experiencing chest pains before he was taken to Piedmont Hospital and pronounced dead. NBC News reports that the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said he was 53 years old, while the New York Times writes that he was 57.
Since joining YouTube in October 2015, Samuels earned 1.4 million subscribers and over 1.2 million Instagram followers, largely thanks to controversial views many deemed toxic and misogynistic. Some video titles include “Women Should Let Men Use Them,” “How Much Does Your Submission Cost,” “Modern Women Are Average at Best,” and “Women Love When Men Cheat.”
See below for a comprehensive breakdown of the controversial figure’s online persona, how he earned his notoriety on social media, his ties with pop culture, and new details surrounding his unexpected death.
Before capturing the attention of millions with his controversial takes, Samuels launched his YouTube page for something else entirely: fashion advice.
Back in 2016, Samuels was credited as the founder of Life & Style by Kevin Samuels, working as an image consultant for clients in an effort to make them feel “their best,” per the Oklahoma Gazette. He would remind clients that looking good created a good impression, using the acronym “B.I.T.Z.” to describe his ultimate goal for his clients—“being in their zone,” per Uncovering Oklahoma.
The career path started for Samuels when he was working on a PR project for an attorney who had an interview with the state’s governor. He said he helped her “pick out the ensembles” she wore, and later got certifications to stand out as an image consultant. That’s when he launched his YouTube channel, with videos that focused primarily on life and style.
“People can expect to receive high level fashion and style ideas distilled down to the practical level that the average, everyday man and woman needs, finds useful, and can immediately act upon,” he told Uncovering Oklahoma of his YouTube channel in May of 2016.
Eventually Samuels’ output on YouTube began looking much different than the lifestyle and fashion content his then-subscribers were used to seeing.
Diving into relationship advice, Samuels’ material in 2020 ceased covering fashion or fragrances for the most part, as his videos began to pick up steam. These newer clips included “One Thing That Keeps Women Single and Unmarried,” “Pretty Mother of 2 Still Thinks She’s a 10,” and “Biggest Reason Modern Women Aren’t Married,” some of which ran for well over two hours and saw the origins of his controversial take–sharing online. Graduating to thumbnails of other people instead of himself, the influencer began to see his views increase, and a few clips really put him on the map.
Released on Dec. 9, 2020, Samuels’ video “You’re Average at Best” has since cracked over 2.8 million views on the platform.
In the clip, Samuels agreed with a woman who said she looked “average,” and told her that women who seek something “outside of their range” end up dying alone.
After the clip took off on WorldStarHipHop and other outlets, Samuels spoke to DJ Vlad about his messages, and responded to Vlad’s claims that many people were shocked by the way Kevin spoke to women.
“I can take anybody out of context in a clip,” Samuels said. “That clip started a conversation, and more women come and said, ‘You know what, when I first saw this clip, I was shocked. But I want to say why I was shocked, because people don’t tell women the truth these days.’”
Other viral clips include one where Samuels tells women if they’ve “made it to 35 and...are unmarried, you are a leftover woman.”
“You are what is left,” he said in an Instagram Live. “Men know that there is likely something wrong with you. Whether you want to hear it or not, I’m going to go there with you. I’m telling you the truth that you don’t want to hear.”
While the New York Times reported that more than 1,700 people had paid between $5 and $20 per month for Samuels’ newsletter to hear him speak on such topics, over 33,300 signed a petition on Change.org to have him removed from Instagram and YouTube.
In a May 2021 article on the Grio, writer Eartha Hopkins picked apart Samuels’ claim that his point of view “represents the modern, high-value Black man,” and writes that his “assertions only affirm an Anglo-Saxon ideology using Black women as an easy scapegoat.”
“This ‘tough-love’ advice oozes misogynoir, amplifying a historically racist and westernized view of beauty that only serves to demean and Black women,” Hopkins wrote.
Samuels ascended to a new level of notoriety and memes in February of this year when Future featured the controversial figure in his music video for I Never Liked You single “Worst Day.” In the clip, Samuels hosts a talk show called Healing Together where he commends the rapper on his “bravery” for admitting he had an addiction to purchasing items for women.
Speaking with GQ shortly after, Future admitted he “probably wouldn’t have picked [Samuels]” to star in the clip had he known who he was before filming, attributing the decision to the visual’s director.
“If I knew who he was before the video, I would’ve felt like it was a typical move,” Future said. “People associate me with being toxic. I would’ve overthought it.”
News of Samuels’ death came as a surprise to many last week.
Mother Beverly Samuels-Burch told NBC News she learned of her son’s death via social media, and declined to share information about what happened.
“That was a terrible thing for social media to put that out. I didn’t even know. I hadn’t even been notified,” she said during a call. “All I’m doing is requesting that people pray for us.”
Joe Budden, T.I., Ebro, and more have spoken on the YouTuber’s passing in the days since, with T.I. specifically writing he hoped God would “accept” Kevin’s service on earth, sharing his message with a meme of Samuels calling people “fat and average.”
“Rest Well Big Dog,” the rapper wrote. “May God be pleased with & accept your service brother. Speaking your truth on behalf of the unnoticed was truly a thankless task. I’m thankful for the times we’ve had an opportunity to celebrate success & exchange philosophy together. Love and Respect King.”
Budden wrote that he felt it was “disgusting what some of y’all do when death occurs,” and called those commenting positively about Samuels’ death “miserable fucks.”
Professor Uju Anya made mention of Samuels’ positions when reacting to the news of his death, writing “who knew all this time he was telling Black women we’ll die alone and unwanted, ran through and leftover, Kevin Samuels was talking about himself.”
“Kevin Samuels has made a career off of shamelessly disgracing Black women for profit. He emboldened the most toxic individuals to project tired and harmful narratives about Black women,” journalist Ernest Owens wrote. “Dead or alive, what a disgraceful life to live. That’s all I’ve got for that misogynist.”
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office told NBC that a cause and manner of death are still pending.