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MEET THE HEROES
ON MY YEEZUS
When your inspirations come from an artist like Kanye West, you can’t help but try to
continue pushing your visions to the furthest of possibilities. In 2013, when Ye was in the
process of releasing his album Yeezus, he said “Great art comes from pain,” and that when
frustration hits, he says “I want to break the glass ceiling.” This is exactly what TQ is working
on doing, as he is channeling his own frustration by not only breaking but shattering the
glass and aiming it towards Instagram’s algorithm.
Allow us to take you back to 2014 when TQ first joined Instagram and started creating posts
based on his streetwear style. “My trajectory was rapid. I was growing by the thousands; it
was really organic. And before I knew it, I was at 132,000 followers in two years.” Fast
forward to 2016, when the Facebook-owned app decided to change its algorithm.
Prioritising and pushing posts based on specific likes, signals, and relevance to your top
feed, to allow the most visibility while other content ends up further down the feed. “It hit
me really hard. My engagement started to dip; my followers started to fall. Then it just
started to get worse, every single year, it affected my growth rate and my engagement
The algorithm switch did not only affect TQ’s Instagram growth but millions of other users,
who also saw the algorithm as a pistol aimed toward their content. “In addition to the
algorithm, I started posting a lot about political issues, social injustice; things that are
actually a lot more important than fashion. I feel like that has also affected the way the
algorithm shows my content.” TQ eventually calculated his growth which has dropped close
to 60.4% every year since 2016 according to minter.io. A website that provides detailed
information of your performance on Instagram.
Comparing that rate with users who are in the same lane of streetwear and fashion put
things into perspective. “It was a harsh reality check when I realised how most people can
be so shallow. They want to see the cars, they want to see the luxury brands, they want to
see the flex. I'm posting content on creating awareness about social injustice, corruption,
and mental health. Most people don't really want to see that, which is crazy to me.” Ye said
it best on the controversial Yeezus track
“I am a God” - “Soon as they like you, make ‘em unlike you, cause kissin’ people ass is so
unlike you. So, TQ decided to follow Kanye’s lead and take the path of turning his personal
pain into great art.
Ye established himself as a musician, but he is also an artist with a passion for fashion. In 2013, Ye branched out to luxury brands, that of Dior, YSL, and L.V. Yet, he found himself completely marginalized by the industry due to the fact that he’s an African American
rapper. The brands put him in a category, restricting his abilities to grow however he desires. TQ says “People marginalize him because he’s not supposed to be a luxury designer.
He’s not supposed to be at fashion week. He’s supposed to be what rappers usually [are].”
So, Kanye simply got a loft in Paris and started recording his album Yeezus in his own living room.
Listening to the lyrics in “Black Skinhead” and “I Am A God,” you immediately pick up that anti-persona Kanye was portraying in the album. It’s definitely provocative, especially with the sounds he was introducing to our ears. He widened the gate of his genre, be it for high-fashion or art. With TQ, he feels especially marginalized like Kanye, but by the app that gave him so much success, yet is still denying him organic growth.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me. My beef is, what’s the reason? Why am I marginalized?
I’ve been put in this group where Instagram and Facebook make it almost impossible to grow. There’s preferential treatment to millions, and another group of millions sidelined,
restricted, and oppressed from growing organically.” This is where his creative projects, like his attempts at getting the “Verified Badge” on Instagram came to life. Along with another project, “Follow/Unfollow” where TQ spoke out his mind in the forms of videos and events.
“I’ve become this Instagram algorithm activist, anti-Zuckerberg kind of Facebook guy, where I’m just going at it,” and he’s not planning on stopping the fight against the injustice he’s facing any time soon. The plan to keep fighting the algorithm creatively became TQ’s Yeezus album and is going to a whole new level.
TQ’s next step ventures into the world of gaming. He’s currently working with an animation production company called Curl Stone. During the meeting which occurred in December 2019, the concept of a mobile game that can be downloaded on the App Store emerged.
It was inspired by TQ’s Instagram beef, and is called No Skillset: The Game. “Think Avengers, but content creators [with superpowers]; where they’re led by this guy who has no skills. He involves all the people around him to help him break this algorithm. The objective of this group would be to go against the app, and overthrow the leadership that suppressed them [and their positive content].” In other words, Thanos is Mark Zuckerberg, and the algorithm is the infinity stones.
After four years of trying to understand the reason behind Instagram’s algorithm, the drop
of growth and engagement, TQ turned numb because he couldn’t find the answers. Somehow, he managed to see the silver lining, “The positives out of this whole thing is I’ve learned what kind of person I am when it comes to fighting for something that needs to be addressed, and something that’s unjust. I’ve realized if there’s something that’s wrong,
whether it’s in politics or an app, I’m gonna speak up.” TQ’s positive content may not reach
the top feed, but with a game like No Skillset, every user will have the power to fight.