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The 10 Most Important Black Memes Of All-Time

The Internet has returned the singular image to the forefront of creative ideation. Interconnectivity has destroyed our patience for content and thusly videos have taken a backseat to memes. Memes, reaction gifs, viral videos all move ideas through the internet at rapid pace. But memes in particular allow an unprecedented consolidation of pop culture and shared emotion within the overarching milieu of greater culture. The cross sections of meaning create a multiplication of thought that embrace pointed nuance. If pictures are worth a thousand words than a picture multiplied by black bordered white impact text has to be worth at least a million.

This effect is even more noticeable within the African American community. Black twitter pushes more trends into the mainstream than any other subculture. While there are many niche communities on the internet creating content, they are regularly sequestered to the nerd zone. “Black cool” still has clout in the online world and the memes have been and will continue to flourish. The immediacy of the internet has made inevitable commodification arrive much faster than in the past, so, I had to unveil these now before they’re individually sponsored by Bevel.

10. Hotline Bling

10

This is the industry pick. But unlike the Grammy, Oscars, et al, we can acknowledge sales without claiming it’s the outright best. While undeniably popular, Drake’s calculated memefication of himself results in a deduction. Each YouTube view might as well have came with copy of Adobe Creative Suite and subscription to Apple Music.

9. Why You Always Lying?

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In the true spirit of the internet, Nicholas Fraser’s Vine video shot him from obscurity to ubiquity. The vine quickly morphed into a still of Frasier’s grin that could be utilized in any situation. The meme gave us 90’s nostalgia via “Too Close” and a new word mmmmmohmygod (m’s may vary). Most importantly, it does what all good memes do: it encapsulated nuance. Because of this meme, maybe a few of us became bold enough to not lie and admit sitting in the house butt naked was more appealing than linking up at a happy hour.

8. Uncle Denzel

8

This meme presents an interesting existential thought experiment. No matter how cool you may think you are, you could potentially become that uncle. We know that Denzel is the picture of refinery, but somehow he found himself in an Adidas sweatsuit rocking a fu-manchu mustache. It’s almost as if his ear beckons for a bluetooth to clothe it. This also confirms that “ain’t shit” uncle is more a spiritual state of being than individual reality. Perhaps, a spiritual punishment in the Tina Turner sect of Buddhism.

7/6. Nick Young/Confused girl

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6

This is a two for one deal. Confused reaction pics are common but these two dive below the surface both emotionally and culturally. First, Nick Young, in name and behavior, has become a sort of spokesperson for youthful playfulness. His meme has followed suit. Typically, it involves older people who are bit out of touch. If your grandmother insists The Life of Pablo got updated after your free trial ended because you skipped church, queue up Nick.

The Confused Girl hits a feeling beyond base level confusion. Utter incredulousness is more appropriate. Only someone completely baffled could jut their neck out at a 45 degree angle like that. Even if it’s a bit dated a terrible roommate can easily bring it back into rotation.

5. Man on Phone

5

Supposedly, Martin Baker was photographed as the lone Black supporter at Darren Wilson support rally. Whether or not that is true, at least his image has contributed to the Black community. We’ve all had to make an exasperatingly dreadful phone call and having Baker’s expression at your disposal makes it a little easier when Comcast customer service tells you dialing “0” isn’t an option.

4. Aint Nobody Got Time For That

4

Way back in the olden days of 2012, an on the street interview from a local Oklahoma City news station gave the world, Sweet Brown, and Sweet Brown gave the us, “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That.” Although it’s easy to be gripped by recency and Twitter style memes, we’ve got to pay respect to the OG of time management.

3. Skeptical African Boy

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At the heart of every Black person is a skeptic. Skepticism sends thousands of young hoteps to battle on street corners and in incense filled bookstores near you. History has taught us rather harshly that people are not to be trusted. This includes well-meaning White people. Positive intentions quickly dissolve into misplaced confirmation bias. Like The Rock, this young man’s eyebrow represents the people. People who are weary of well-wishing volunteerism.

2. Kermit the Frog (None Of My Business)

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This meme serves an important practical function. It shrouds one’s messiness in humor.

Of course mature adults shouldn’t call attention to someone’s hypocrisy outright, but, what if a puppet could do it for you instead? While Kermit’s image has spread across a variety of memes, the original stemming from a Lipton tea commercial sparked the wave. First, it involves tea. Tea is slang for a bit of secret information. Second, as a character, Kermit is known for his mild mannered behavior. So passive aggressively sipping a bit of tea may be exactly how he told Gonzo he noticed his fake Cement Jordan’s.

1. Crying Jordan

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Speaking of Jordan, was there any other option? There are a number of important crying memes including the famed “Lil’ Mama,” but, his Airness once again takes the title. What makes this meme so special is that it not only signifies sadness but also palpable disappointment. Jordan is competitiveness personified, therefore, any person participating in a public contest from this point onward must beware of his iconic duality like tragic drama masks. Victory will associate you with his 90s era tongue wagging swagger, while defeat gets you the puffy weeping face of a middle aged man. Now, the stakes don’t have to be high for Crying Jordan to apply. An empty fridge or a closed DC metro can make you want to be like Mike. If the greatest basketball player of all time can ugly cry, then you too can fall from your mountaintop or footstool. Slander knows no prejudice.

Brandon Harrison

Brandon lives in LA and has Hollywood stories that rival those of Rick James. He prides himself on staying righteous and knowing more about basketball than you.

  • Courtney Wheeler

    Great collection but I will argue that this really is the grandfather of all black memes..
    http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/000/030/403/YouMad.jpg

    • Brandon Allen

      I feel like this is almost pre-meme. Undoubtedly classic.

      • Courtney Wheeler

        Agreed…it really started it all..then branched into other hilarious “U Mad” memes..

    • MarcusSun

      Seriously, all other memes should bow down.
      If they dont we can safely make an assumption…
      they mad

    • KingsCounty

      Oh I keep this qued up in the phone to reply to text msgs.
      Yea I’m a jerk.
      Then I follow with the gif
      http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/2013/10/camron.gif

    • miss t-lee

      You mad, you mad doggy?
      LMAO

      • LMFAO “doggy”

        • miss t-lee

          I pull that video up on youtube every now and again and get my life…lol

    • Brass Tacks

      Reason #322 Dipset needs to have their own biopic.

    • Dougie

      GOAT

  • Everything thing was a great choice except 3 and 4 which are awkward translations of white memes

    • I never thought the “Why you always lyin'” video or meme was funny.

      This is one of my new favorite memes:

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BC5UeHjhOzr/

      • Animate

        lmao this is brilliant

      • miss t-lee

        I also loved the one with Westbrook and Durant.

    • Brandon Allen

      Perhaps they were made by white people but they’ve been used by black people and use black subjects. Have you seen kid with the burnt ramen?
      It’s definitely a white meme with a black person in it.

      • When I say white meme I mean the delivery of the joke. White memes are themed base with a brief set up and punchline. Black memes are loads of information followed by the reaction or (in the case of the Jordan meme for example) an image with a specific idea juxtaposed on a person or event.

        Yeah I’m a boring nerd who explains jokes.I just meant cultural differences between the two

        • Brandon Allen

          No i feel you. The original post was a little longer with methodology and everything. Can’t get too inside baseball.

      • KMN

        he’s so cute….I just wanna hug him…lol he looks so sorry about effing up the ramen lol

      • AquaTeamV3

        His face says it all. He’s upset about the burnt noodles, but at the same time he’s accepted his fate.

      • Junegirl627

        I isaw this one and it said. “pepsi after they burned michael Jackson” I cried real tears of laughter …… RIP Mike

  • MarcusSun

    Where is “you mad?” in its various iterations?
    Confused Girl deserves its own entry, Top 3 at that.
    The Jordan Tears #1?
    no….

  • MarcusSun

    Uncle Denzel is the most hilarious Black meme ever.

    • Denzel’s transition to ain’t sh*t was so smooth. “I ain’t boil them ribs!” has to be uttered when you kill it in the kitchen.

      • MarcusSun

        The buck teefuses, the mismatched outfit, the “I shole do preshiate you Ms Cellie” expression.
        Unbeatable.

      • PaddyfotePrincess

        They had Denzel looking like he left for a loaf of bread back in ’74 and didn’t return until Cousin Jimmy got shot in ’89.

        • Then he shows up at the repast with a girl no one has ever seen before and when asked about it he says “Quit tripping, You know that’s your cousin, Tasha. “

          • PaddyfotePrincess

            Then he gets kicked out of the Chi-Lites due to a dispute over tour bus ethics and constantly messing up the lip sync to “Have You Seen Her.”

            • He frequently uses the term “When we was in “Nam…” as an opening to how much of a playa/bad*ss/spades champion/mechanic/point guard.

              • PaddyfotePrincess

                He got written up at the car wash for telling one of the customers he would “sop her up with a biscuit.”

                • Ess Tee

                  OMG you and @Wu_Young:disqus are killing me right now!

                  • PaddyfotePrincess

                    Those Uncle Denzel memes were everything. Pure comedy.

                  • Quirlygirly

                    Me too! I am in my office trying now to laugh out loud.

                    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

                      I’ve got to leave the office..y’all are hurting my stomach.

      • miss t-lee

        Looka here Youngblood!

  • I saw Jordan’s face super-imposed over Ben Carson. Best meme this year.

  • mr. steal your costco samples

    That Mr. Krabs meme is so wonderful though.

    • Brandon Allen

      Too recent. great tho.

      • mr. steal your costco samples
        • mr. steal your costco samples

          there’s one like “when you in the job interview and they ask you, outside of $$$, what you are trying to accomplish / achieve in this job.” wish I could find it.

        • I stumbled across this one the other day.

          • uNk

            laughed way too hard at this lol

          • miss t-lee

            This had me crying yesterday.
            As a glasses wearer, this was a bit too real…lol

        • brothaskeeper

          Ms. New Booty still makes me slam on the brakes.

        • uNk

          Too relatable lol

          • niggggaaaaa

            x n x x be having my data on the opposite of fleek

            • brothaskeeper

              X N X X…that’s one of those Bible verse apps, right?

              • Yup! I be praising and catching the spirit.

                • brothaskeeper

                  Holla-loo!

          • Mrs_diabolique

            Yo I’m crying. This happened to me last night while playing games on my phone. Like hold up…noooooo

          • Ess Tee

            Listen! I was going up to Philly this past weekend, and like halfway there, Verizon sent me that damn text talking about “You have used 75% of your 10GB data…” and I was like fawwwkkkk!

        • MissB

          LMAO This has been ME so many times!!!!!

        • Nah the Mr. Crabs memes are GOAT

    • Tyrell Holmes

      your name tho????
      EPIC my brother…just EPIC

  • Can’t forget the Jesse cry. ..

    Also… I thought the Uncle Denzel jawn was Photoshop. I had no CLUE that was real til I saw another recent photo.

    • miss t-lee

      Nah…Uncle Denzel was very real.

  • Mika

    I wish my work e-mails could auto reply Nick Young’s meme. Life would be grand.

  • Madame Zenobia

    I like the “stares in” memes that are becoming popular. They may not be classics yet, but they do so much for me in these internet streets. Also, the regular streets, my friends and I can have full text conversations using memes only.

    • KingsCounty
      • Vanity in Peril

        Each face is perfection. Black skepticism with black cooniferance in the foreground.

      • Ess Tee

        This reminds me: I was reading something about Underground (new show on WGN America), and someone called one of the characters (Cato, the slave driver) the Antebellum Don Lemon and I nearly hyperventilated.

        • Don’t know what to make of that show yet.

          • Sylqué

            Same

          • PaddyfotePrincess

            Yeah…I’m on the fence with it.

          • Ess Tee

            My biggest gripe with the show is using contemporary music in a couple of the scene.

            Beyond that, I’ve stuck around because I do feel as though the writers are trying to give complexity and agency to the characters, most especially the slaves. It could easily be one of those narratives where the slaves are waiting on the kindness of White folks as opposed to acting on their own (within whatever limited capacity they have).

            • KB

              Last week’s episode where they used The Weeknd during the lovemaking scene just threw me off.

              • brothaskeeper

                *perks up* I wasn’t gonna watch this show, but please elaborate on this “lovemaking”….you know, because Mrs. BK wants to know….yeah…

                • KB

                  It was at the end of the episode when Jurnee Smollet’s character and the darkskin brotha who is planning the escape (the buddy from Straight Outta Compton) were about to get it on in the barn.

              • Ess Tee

                Yeah. I can’t quite understand these music choices, really.

              • Tyrell Holmes

                its no possible way to make love to any of The Weeknd’s albums…they are so depressing…I had to get up and turn her iPod player off

            • The music struck me as odd too. They are fleshing out the characters pretty well. I was wondering if the master was Jurnee and her youngest brother’s dad. I haven’t figured out Cato, Tommy from Power’s character, or Christopher Meloni’s.

              I do know that I hate the master’s wife.

              • Ess Tee

                Which one is Tommy?

                Wait. I had to stop and do my Googles. I didn’t realize that the dude selling the ribbons and paper was Tommy! Lordt.

                I think the master is Rosalee’s and the little boy’s father. The way the master’s wife acts towards Ernestine (when she said right in front of her that she couldn’t wait for the boy to grow up strong so she could put him on the auction block) leads me to believe so.

            • Mochasister

              I’m getting a little tired of the slave movies myself. No disrespect to the ancestors intended. It’s like that’s all they ever want to see us as ( me thinks because on the down low they want to go back to that time.). Let’s learn about some other aspects of our history. Do a miniseries on Black Wallstreet(like that’s ever going happen.). Rebroadcast Shaka Zulu. Anything.

        • catgee12

          I actually enjoy the Underground. I find the mix of music adds a different nuance and newness to the “slave genre”. I’m here for it. Also glad they don’t “massa” talk you to death.

      • PaddyfotePrincess

        No words needed. Their facial expressions are collectively saying “THIS n-word.”

        • Epsilonicus

          I like the woman on the left with her hand under her chin. That face is priceless lol

          • PaddyfotePrincess

            Lol. She’s like “FOH with that nonsense.”

      • miss t-lee

        This was side eye perfection. Everybody collectively was like like, FOH Don.

        • Mochasister

          Dang, I missed this one (don’t have cable so don’t watch tv.). What did Don say that had Black folk looking at him like he was ten carat crazy?

          • miss t-lee

            Not sure, but this was during Ferguson when he was saying dumb things every other sentence.

      • United_Dreamer

        When side eye become side head…

        • Side head sounds like something else entirely ^_^

          • Quirlygirly

            HAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!

          • Tyrell Holmes

            right!!!

          • Mochasister

            You is so, so crazy! Lol! Thank you Jesus I got these two weeks of spring break! I can’t be out here in these streets laughing like a loon at these VSB folks!

  • Sigma_Since 93

    No love for the Rome girl leaves you meme???

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