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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Read This: Lil Tay's journey from grade-schooler to foul-mouthed meme monster

Illustration for article titled Read This: Lil Tay's journey from grade-schooler to foul-mouthed meme monster
Screenshot: YouTube

For much of 2018, whatever the hell was going on with Instagram star and sorta-rapper Lil Tay was a weird online mystery. For the most part, Tay was like any number of Instagram and YouTube wannabes, hurling invective at iPhone cameras about fat stacks, haters, and rival “influencers.” There was one very noticeable difference, however: Tay was just nine years old. Where, one can’t help but wonder, are this girl’s parents?


Tay’s virality began with a surreal TMZ run-in with meme-turned-actual-rapper Bhad Bhabie (AKA the “Cash Me Outside Girl”), one in which Tay’s slurs sounded undoubtedly scripted. The exact identity of who was feeding her lines, however, was much more opaque. Now, following the blackout of Tay’s online presence this past June, an exhaustive new telling of the Lil Tay saga from The Cut has finally revealed not only the whereabouts of said parents, but the true source of Tay’s precocious shit-talking: Her 16-year-old brother.

Per The Cut, Lil Tay is actually Claire Hope, an 11-year-old from Vancouver. Her father is a lawyer, her mom is a real-estate agent, and her half-brother, Jason, is a teenager with influencer dreams of his own. His own attempts at achieving YouTube fame under the persona Rycie gained little traction in the social-media world, but led him to the idea of something that would: Having his little sister spit some shit about cars and chains for him. He wasn’t wrong—Tay’s videos racked up millions of views, not to mention meetings with the likes of Diplo, Chief Keef, and even Rick Rubin, despite the fact that she didn’t, you know, do anything.

From there, a series of would-be managers and, eventually, Tay’s parents got involved. But the character’s propensity for using racial slurs amidst all the shit-stirring had irrevocably damaged the brand that’s more or less become synonymous with this little girl. Now, she’s essentially trapped in a bubble of fame, having to be home-schooled due to the (not-so-desirable) cult of personality that’s sprung up around her. Reminder: She’s 11.

“They weren’t ready for this business,” says talent manager Diomi Cordero. Of Jason, in particular, he says, “He’s a fame-obsessed teenager who was uneducated about the entertainment industry.”

Burn the internet. Burn it all down. 

Check out the rest of the Lil Tay saga over at The Cut.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club.