Let Him Cook meme

Meme History: Let Him Cook

Not everything needs to be Shakespeare in order to be good writing, and sometimes one-syllable words are the best way to get the masses on board with a new idea.


Kyle Calise


Posted on Apr 14, 2024   Updated on May 28, 2024, 4:11 pm CDT

Watch 10 seconds of this video.

For a shirtless man speaking near-unintelligibly, and whose camera angle conspicuously lacks any headroom whatsoever, this guy is—believe it or not—in the middle of making a pretty sophisticated, and insanely catchy linguistic conceit.

Not everything needs to be Shakespeare in order to be good writing, and sometimes one-syllable words are the best way to get the masses on board with a new idea.

Enter Lil B, and “Let him cook.”

On July 6th, 2010, rapper Lil B posted the above video to YouTube explaining a new dance he made up, along with the philosophy behind what it means to “Let that boy cook.” 

Basically, it’s an extended metaphor for claiming that someone has honed their craft, gotten good at something, or is practicing, well, anything.

The following week, YouTuber Jordan Collier posted a fan video of himself dancing with a spatula in his kitchen, set to a Lil B track. Ultimately the video received over 140,000 views, and thus “Let him cook” began to evolve from a motto into a meme.

In the mid-2010s, Let Him Cook’s renown was accelerated by a string of conflicts Lil B had with basketball players. Notably, he accused NBA star James Harden of stealing his cooking dance, threatening to put a curse on him if he didn’t give the rapper credit for it. The exact stakes of that curse were dubious, and make of it what you will, but Harden did go on a subsequent losing streak.

Previously, Lil B had also put a curse on Kevin Durant, after the NBAer called him “whack”, all of which resulted in a diss track, appropriately, if aggressively, titled “F*** KD.”

“Let him cook” simultaneously spread as a term used to describe flirting and/or hornyposting, going viral with a 2022 tweet that said “let him cook” when a Phoenix Suns fan watching the game with his wife was caught flirting with what appeared to be another woman over text during the game. 

Later that year, another use case for the phrase developed. This time involving Woody the Cowboy, and Sora, the main character from Kingdom Hearts.

In a cutscene toward the climax of the Toy Story level of the third game, Woody holds Sora back from the main antagonist for just long enough to take a good screenshot.

“Let him cook” is also TikTok famous, with users posting videos of themselves “cooking” in all sorts of contexts, mostly featuring this audio,

And it’s even become the next in a long line of Spongebob Squarepants memes—this time typically featuring imagery from a season 3 episode—”Squilliam Returns.” Rather than praising their object, the Spongebob memes typically express some sort of regret and dismay.

This meme is a short and to-the-point overture. And this is basically why it’s that rare instance of a catchphrase that unites anime weebs with barstool bros with rap people, and everyone in between—it just works.

Woo woo jinxes and heated semi-unprovoked sports baller clashes aside, if Lil B is able to come up with a line this good, we might all want to consider just sitting back to let him cook.

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*First Published: Apr 14, 2024, 6:00 am CDT