Anthony Fantano is a recognizable face on YouTube. His music-review channel the Needle Drop has more than 1 million subscribers, and his (mostly male) fanbase takes his reviews very seriously. His recent review of XXXTentacion’s album received 798,000 views.
But, as Fader reports, the Needle Drop wasn’t Fantano’s only channel. Until Tuesday, he also ran thatistheplan, a channel devoted to memes and shitposting that in recent years took on a different tone. Fantano abruptly deleted the channel, citing YouTube’s ongoing demonetization issues, but Fader took a deeper dive into his content.
Fader points out that Fantano is often referenced on 4chan‘s music board /mu/, writing that it was “a complex environment—many people on it are serious music fans who care about the scores he awards records on The Needle Drop; they are also steeped in the shock-jock culture of 4Chan. Over time, Fantano had begun explicitly catering to the latter crowd’s sensibilities. His two channels allowed him to serve that audience from multiple angles, maximizing engagement, clicks, and profit.”
While the Needle Drop offers measured reviews of rap albums, thatistheplan had a different tone. Fantano would often mock rappers like XXXTentacion and Hopsin, and many videos included racist memes or imagery. But that might be part of the plan. Says Fader:
In a 2014 article, The New York Times estimates that 1 million YouTube views earns a content creator approximately $2,000. The XXXTentacion video has 631,000 views and the Hopsin video has 397,000—Fantano earned enough from these two half-baked parodies of troubled black men to buy himself an all-inclusive weekend at a Sandals resort.
The “red-pilling” of YouTubers—Laci Green is one recent example—isn’t a new phenomenon, but we’re seeing more of the effects. It’s now financially lucrative on YouTube to go after “social justice warriors,” or feminism, or religion. A recent New York Times piece on YouTube’s “new far right” paints it as a safe space for a new kind of reaction video. The Fader article cites a Needle Drop podcast from 2016, on which Fantano interviewed Sam Hyde, an alt-right figure who created the controversial (and quickly canceled) Adult Swim show Million Dollar Extreme. Fantano laughs as Hyde describes in detail the physical and sexual violence he’d like to inflict on Lena Dunham.
Fantano claims a video response to the Fader story is coming.