Rapper Denny Blaze, aka The Average Homeboy, is one of the most recognizable YouTube memes. He rose to viral fame back in 2006 thanks to a demo tape that he recorded back in the late 1980s. The tape features the song ‘Average Homeboy’, and Denny Blazin Hazen explaining what he’s trying to market. “In mainstream music right now, there’s not a middle-class, average guy telling his point of view that’s white.” His mission was to fill this gap.
I had the opportunity to ask Denny Blaze a few questions about his rapping, his life, and what it was like to become a viral sensation on YouTube. Read on to find out what he had to say.
I asked Denny if he could tell me the story of the Average Homeboy—when he made the video, what was its purpose and how it made its way to YouTube. He told me, “As a teenager, over 21 years ago, I set out to become a famous rapper! It was a long shot from a farm town in the Ohio suburbs. However, I believed that I could get my demo to a record producer. This was in a time before there was Internet, CDs, DVDs, camcorders, or even non-linear editing. I bought a keyboard and microphone from Radio Shack and plugged them into my boom box. I wrote some lyrics onto some notebook paper and recorded my tracks onto audiocassette tape.”
“Then, I had access to a TV camera and editing equipment, so I decided to produce some demo videos and send them off to record labels. I sent my demo videos to MTV and Warner Bros. Records. One of my VHS tapes sat in a box at MTV for 17 years before being uploaded to YouTube.” Thus, The Average Homeboy was born. Denny Blaze has never met the MTV employee that uploaded his Average Homeboy demo to YouTube, but he can thank them for his becoming a household name (at least among YouTube fanatics).
Denny says, “Since it wasn’t me who originally put my videos on YouTube, for sure, I was initially surprised to see the videos on the internet because they were really just demos intended for a major record label executive to view with my intentions of getting them produced in NY or LA. However, the response was so massive and amazing, I was actually glad that my material had finally made it out to the masses.” Not long after his video hit YouTube, Denny Blaze re-uploaded it, along with more videos, to his own YouTube channel.
With nearly two decades passing in the time between when Denny sent out his demo and it appeared on YouTube, I wondered what he had been doing in the meantime. He told me, “I went to college at Kent State University, where I got a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. I have worked in the TV/Radio Broadcasting Field ever since I was a kid. I’ve worked on productions for major TV networks as well as local television stations, and have shot videos for The Cleveland Professional Sports Teams for many years.” Denny also kept producing his own music and making videos over the years. You can find many of these on his YouTube channel. Check out one of his latest uploads below—Do The Chick-Fil-A! Nuggets on my mind!
I asked Denny what it was like to go viral. He said, “I started to receive high volumes of emails. I had a website for my music, and it started to receive high numbers of hits. It was awesome to know that people around the whole globe were viewing my videos. I even had soldiers watching them in the Middle East during the Iraq War. Because my videos were produced so long ago, they are like a time capsule of 2 decades ago, so some people weren’t sure if the videos were produced recently to look old, and some viewers could just relate to the throw back clothes and funny mullet haircut. Once VH1 named me as their top #3 Greatest Internet Superstar I started to get noticed. At first, people would say, ‘This might sound like a weird question, but…are you the Average Homeboy?’ It always makes me smile and I usually respond, ‘Yes, and now you have officially been Blazed!’”
Denny was also featured on Tosh.0, where his title was upgraded to The Above Average Homeboy.
The last thing I asked Denny Blaze was what advice he would give to those looking to follow in his footsteps. He said, “Be yourself; Be creative; and Be Dedicated! The great Radio Broadcaster, Paul Harvey, once said, ‘If you try to act like or sound like someone else, the best you can be is second best.’ The one thing that you can do better than anybody else is be yourself! So, if you have a YouTube dream, then produce some original and creative videos. Then, don’t stop believing in your dream.”
And now, you have officially been BLAZED!
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.