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“First World Problems”: Exclusive interview

The Daily Dot talks to Zach, the 17-year-old YouTube phenomenon behind the “First World Problems Rap.”


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Internet Culture

First World Problems Rapper

“My hot water ran out in the shower, which sucks cause I was only in there for a half-hour,” raps 17-year-old Zach.

Feel his pain? So did tens of thousands of YouTube viewers, inconvenienced as they were by a harrowing lack of urgent, survival-related tasks requiring physical effort.

Uploaded yesterday under his funnyz account, “The First World Problems Rap” went viral after being posted on Reddit Friday.  By late afternoon, the video approached 100,000 views after being linked on countless websites and blogs, including CBS News.

But the Daily Dot got Zach’s back story.

Zach, or funnyz, who joined YouTube in 2006, uploaded simpler, personal videos sporadically until last year when he began filling his channel with raps, parodies (he’s known for his Rebecca Black “Friday” sendoff), and prank calls.

“My parents are really supportive (sometimes my mom even leaves the kitchen when I need to film in there!),” wrote funnyz in an email exchange with the Dot. “They sometimes post my videos to Facebook, too.”

So what’s a “first-world problem”? The popular meme has all kinds of definitions, but here’s funnzy’s take: “First-world problems are all basically just complaints, but it’s the ‘oh yeah, I hate that too!’ factor which makes them funny.”

One requirement: an ironic self-awareness that only someone in a comparative position of privilege might have the problem to begin with.

An example of a first-world problem: the negative reactions that a privileged suburban teenager draws when he posts a video about first-world problems.

Some comments on his video, most apparently written by non-native English speakers, don’t seem in on the joke, while others claim funnyz ripped off MC Frontalot’s song “First World Problem”:

“Hey let’s rip off MC Frontalot and not give him any credit. That’ll be a good time for all. :|”

(Here’s that video so you can judge for yourself.)

According to funnyz, the song was inspired by Reddit, the social news site.

“I noticed that the idea of ‘first world problem’ was becoming pretty popular, especially on Twitter and Reddit,” said funnyz. “I love making rap videos, so I figured why not make a rap video about it?”

The video took him about three days to make, he said.

In the video description on YouTube, funnyz credits some of his lines to posts on the First World Problems subreddit, or Reddit section.

And in response to critics who questioned his originality, funnyz said he did not see MC Frontalot’s video until later: “I searched ‘first-world problems’ after I thought of the idea, but I figured I could make something different and unique, where I’m acting out each first world problem. And I think I succeeded, haha.”

What’s next? “I just want to keep making YouTube videos, especially as a full-time job!” said funnyz. “It’d be cool to be part of a YouTube ‘incubator’ like The Station, but I’m happy making music videos in my room. It’s fun.”

Having to content onself with making music videos in one’s room: a first-world problem.

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