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The British comedian explains how he turned his “Man’s Not Hot” meme into a mega-hit.
"It’s not really a story - it’s a lifestyle.”
Big Shaq’s the man of the moment, or at the very least, man of the memes. As at the time of this article’s publication, his first single ‘Mans Not Hot’ has over 10 million views across Facebook and YouTube, and his appearance on Fire in the Booth was a viral hit, spawning countless parodies and high profile fans. Even Jeremy Corbyn referenced him at this year’s Labour party conference; but who is Big Shaq?
Originally, the character was one of the hard-hustling characters that Dapaah plays in the addictive #SWIL (Somewhere In London) web series, which he also writes and produces. But “Man’s Not Hot” has introduced Dapaah to a far broader audience.
Dapaah has kept the momentum going. Seeing the way DJs had been dropping his skit into their sets — as well as the raucous crowd reaction that would typically follow — he released the freestyle as an official single under the more bossed-up moniker Big Shaq, and cracked the U.K. Top 40 this fall. After a hugely successful appearance on Fire in the Booth, where Dapaah, as Big Shaq, freestyled “The girl told me, ‘Take off your jacket’, / I said, ‘Babes, man’s not hot’” the viral trend was born.
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After Dapaah’s appearance on the show, his tongue-in-cheek chorus, “Man’s not hot/ Take off your jacket,” started to be heard everywhere in the U.K., from school playgrounds to club cloakrooms. One iconic line particularly delighted the masses in its silliness: “The ting goes skrrrahh/ Pap pap ka ka ka/ Skibiki pap pap/ And a pu pu pudrrrr boom/ Skya/ du du ku ku dun dun/ poom poom.” In the months since, the internet has produced countless memes and jokes that revolve around Shaq’s hilarious bars, and the vaguely familiar absurdity of the sounds that he’s making.
As we take to sit the hit man, Big Shaq himself to find out what it’s like becoming the hottest thing in music. Here are his responses to some of the important questions.  
What does your family think of the work you do?
Being a second generation Ghanaian growing up in Britain, obviously the first generation’s mentality is different. But I realised very early on that [comedy] was a passion of mine, so at certain times there have been loggerheads.
I think for [my family] it’s about making sure that whatever I’m doing, I’m making good money and looking after myself, and once you’re able to show it’s possible then they’re cool innit. 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now. I’m just thankful to God I live in a time I can do what I’m doing, capitalize from it, make money, and enjoy what I do. My faith has always supported me in my ventures, so boom.
How planned was Big Shaq’s freestyle? Did you know exactly what you were going to say, and how you were going to say it?
Some of the bars were written prior [to the Fire in the Booth appearance], then some were me in the moment. When I’m playing any of my characters, I totally go into the realm of the character. That’s when I’m able to come up with the most creative stuff, and I believe that’s what connects with the audience. “The ting goes skrrra/ Pap pap ka ka ka” — I didn’t plan that. It was more like when I was in character, that’s what came out as Shaq. It was Shaq’s emotions. He went in there to prove himself like literally, “This is me, this is what I’m about bruv, lemme give you that fire.”
Do you think the world was ready for ‘Man’s NotHot’?
“The world’s never ready, because the world gets hot; but man never gets hot – do you get what I’m sayin? Man can be in Sahara desert – but I’m still going to wear the jacket.
So, tell us how you wrote ‘Man’s Not Hot’?
“Boom, basically – everywhere I go I wear my jacket babes – do you know what I’m sayin’? So it’s like, it’s just me telling my story. It doesn’t matter where I am, what I do, whether I’m in the sauna, whether I’m on the beach, whether I’m with my girl at the spa – man’s never hot. It’s that simple. It’s not really a story – it’s a lifestyle.”
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It obviously started with your appearance on Fire in the Booth with Charlie Sloth, what does he think of it all?
“Charlie Sloth AKA Big Charles. Charles is happy. He’s just happy that obviously it’s come from his show – do you know what I’m sayin’ – his price has gone up.”
Could you two ever collab?
Well, you know – all Charlie knows how to do is press buttons. There can’t be no collaboration, unless he can sing – and I don’t think Charles can sing.
Any plans for another song?
“Alright, we might make a winter thing called ‘Man’s Not Cold’.”
What about with climate change, will you still wear the coat then?
“Man don’t know about no climate. Man does climbing – I don’t do climate. Man climb up the stairs and that. Climb to my bed and that – bunk bed ting.”
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What’s the overnight success been like?
“The girls when they see me now, they take a bit more time to look at me. You know, whereas before they might of just looked once, now they’re looking like three or four times you know.”
So that idea of success is the thread that brings it all together for you?
150%, because everyone is chasing something different. Shaq’s main ambition is to bring himself off the roads. I know there are a lot of young males in London that find themselves in the position of someone like Shaq, and if you watch the watch the web series #SWIL you’ll understand his story that little bit more. You’ll see Shaq going and trying different things because he no longer wants to live that street life.
Who are your inspirations?
Mo the Comedian. He’s a good friend of mine, to be honest he’s more like an older brother to me. I love Stevo The Mad Man, he’s got his own style, then obviously the Eddie Murphy, and the late, great Bernie Mac, who’s probably my favourite comedian of all time.
So is it always the comedy before the acting for you?
Yeah, but I love producing. I really like Tyler Perry, I think that his work is amazing. Oprah Winfrey as well, she is a don. I love that woman because it goes back to her story: being able to go through all that rejection and trauma, and she still rose up and became the biggest mogul on television. It’s not for the money, it’s her love for creativity and pushing the boundaries, and that’s what I love.
What’s next for you and Big Shaq?
We’re not stopping. There will be a lot more work. Some people have seen Big Shaq live, but a lot of people have been wanting to see just a proper [comedy] show [from me]. I definitely want to give it to the people; I owe it to them. Obviously with Big Shaq now exploring this new comedic genre of music, there may be another single too.
And apparently Drake is a fan as well?
“Drake, that’s my brother right there. Big Drizzy. That’s my guy there – he shows me a lot of love. We soon link up and we’re gonna do something special.”
Are you ever going to collaborate with him, what’s the plan?
“Who knows? We never leak too much information, you know. The birds are watching. The owls are active.”
You’re one of the few comedy acts in the U.K. who capitalized on viral fame by releasing a single so quickly. Was that always the plan?
I just have to thank God for the people that I work with. We like to spot opportunity and just take it. I saw the way the meme [went viral] and recorded the track straight away. It was always in my heart to record the song [for a single], but I just didn’t know when I was going to do it. You can’t plan these things.
How do you deal with people criticizing you for being a parody act who’s getting such success in the music world?
It just makes me know that I’m doing something right.  Anybody that has stepped out and become a success, in whatever field it is, people are always gonna have something to say. It just comes with the territory. I don’t focus on that. If I look at the grand scheme of things, the ratio is probably 99 or 95% positive to to one or five per cent negative. So overall, I’m blessed. I just tell people, “listen. Instead of being bitter about it, take inspiration and go and do your own thing.” How you gonna be bitter? What’s the point? I’m just a young black boy, who like a lot of young black boys, is trying to do something out here. Trying to create history. Trying to do something epic. You get me?
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What was it like when Jeremy Corbyn quoted you?
“Man like Jeremy Corbyn, you know what like, big up Jeremy Corby.”
How would you react if another politician like Nigel Farage, said he liked your songs?
“Man don’t know Nigel Frappe, I don’t know him.”
Who’s your favourite rapper at the moment?
“Big Shaq.”
Apart from yourself.
Any others you like at the moment?
“S-H-A-Q. Yeah, B.I.G.”
And any messages you want to pass onto your fans?

“I appreciate the support, like – do you know what I’m sayin? Big up yourself, yeah? Make sure that when you’re going out, you wear socks, because I’ve been seeing some people coming out with no socks and that. You know, your toes looking like Cheetos, we don’t need all of that. Make sure you stick to one barber, do you know what I’m sayin? Don’t cheat on your barber cos some of you lots hairlines are looking a bit mad – but obviously I appreciate you because you’re supporters. And brush your teeth twice a day. That’s it.”


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