A few months ago, scrolling TikTok, I spotted a video of a young, bucket-hat-wearing man, miming to a Jennifer Coolidge monologue, mimicking the morning after a two-day bender.
“You’re not very pretty and you’re not very bright,” Coolidge intones in a speech from teen romcom A Cinderella Story. The accompanying text on the video reads: “Me to me after staying up all weekend with nothing to show for it apart from a blocked nose, extreme anxiety and my overdraft maxed out”.
Those who know… know.
I clicked through to the creator’s page and found a cornucopia of sesh-related content. Videos referencing going for a pint and ending up in a random kitchen at 7AM. Nods to cocaine's impact on the bowels. Jokes about the one-line oversharer. Mentions of “the plate”, and – of course – the brutal comedown.
Sesh content is hardly new – but here was someone very openly attaching their face to TikToks that almost exclusively referenced coke. Their name: @jakkob – AKA, 27 year-old DJ and London-based creator Jacob Hill-Anderson, who claims he’s the cocaine content king. Which, considering he tells me he was a co-founder of sesh-related Instagram page Ketflix and Pills, might just be true.
Alongside Hill-Anderson, several packets’ worth of TikTok creators are capitalising off coke-themed-memes. Dan Williamson, Jack Saunders and The Sesh Life all post content touching on the finer details of a weekend spent on the “nose beers” (with nods to other narcotics thrown in), with their observational comedy touching on everything from suspicious bouncers in pub loos to uh, heart strain. Even general TikTok comedians, such as Jack Skipper, have started to touch on powder-adjacent content.
So, why promote the sesh? Ding-ding: It’s profitable, with huge levels of engagement. “I work with a lot of record labels,” Hill-Anderson explains. “They have a song and they’ll be like ‘Can you do a narrative to it?’ The charts are dictated by TikTok.”
On average, Hill-Anderson publishes at least six paid sesh content videos a month, netting him several times more than the average UK monthly salary, for videos soundtracked by the likes of Shane Codd and Clean Bandit. Hill-Anderson has the metrics to back up the investment; his average monthly views clock in around 10 million.
He sees TikTok as the first rung on a larger ladder. Next up: building his Instagram audience and a merch line (samples of which he can be seen sporting in his latest TikToks).
“People comment ‘Drugs are your only personality trait’, but if you want to build an empire” – at this, he breaks off and smirks at his own words – “if you want to build anything, you stick to it."
“That’s how I’ve gone from 1,000 followers last September to over 400,000 now. TikTok’s not a reflection of me as a person, it’s just a joke I know works well.”
But it’s not simply new users on the sesh. Twenty-two year-old Jack Saunders had around 400,000 followers when he began posting sesh-heavy TikToks in March 2021. Now, he’s doubled that figure – a rise he attributes to the increased engagement from sesh content.
“The videos started flourishing,” he says. “A lot more views, more reactions, more shares come from that sort of content. A lot more people related to it and could share it with their friends.”
Much like Hill-Anderson, Saunders monetises his videos via paid-for-music-promotions, with his videos featuring tracks by electronic artists like Timmy Trumpet, atop clips riffing on the sesh, such as the weekly countdown to Friday. “Some labels do steer away from [explicit drug use],” he says. “But others don’t really mind. You just stick to the brief.”
This openness about drug culture online comes from the increasing prevalence of drugs in society. “It’s easier to get nowadays,” Saunders says, alluding to the omnipresent spectre of “the bag”.
“Round where I live, there’s definitely more people who have it. It’s not as expensive, realistically. It’s become one of those social drugs, rather than doing it only at raves. It’s more like going down the pub and just finding it there.”
It’s noticeable that most of the UK sesh content creators who have emerged on TikTok – particularly those whose oeuvre seems to mainly focus on cocaine – are young white men. According to government data from 2020, they’re the group driving the big increase in usage in the UK. Searching the “#sesh” hashtag does throw up the odd viral video by a young woman, but you’re hard pressed to find a female content creator who’s converted a one-off hit into constant sesh content and has developed the platform to match – though the comment sections of the young men farming out sesh content are, interestingly enough, filled with women.
“Yeah, I’ve seen that quite a lot,” Saunders tells me. “My comment section is more girls tagging their friends. I’m not sure of the reason why, but they do seem more engaged in the comments than making videos themselves.”
Hill-Anderson also seems aware of this dynamic; he points to videos he’s made in the guise of a pining would-be lover, just looking for his special someone to “do lines” with at Winter Wonderland. The comments below are filled with young women “applying” for the position.
“That’s just engagement,” he shrugs with a wry smile. “I’ve made one TikTok about emotionally unavailable girls about four different times with different songs, including Taylor Swift. People comment – it pushes it up”.
But doesn’t it get weary, having to pretend you’re constantly on one? No, says Saunders, because the feedback he gets is pretty positive.
“I get a lot of Instagram DMs towards Friday and Saturday, which tend to be like ‘Oh mate, just got a fresh bag in, hope you have a good weekend’,” he says. “I’d rather reply to that than people giving me negative comments.”
For his part, Hill-Anderson is clearly bothered by some of the responsibility others ascribe to him, including comments that accuse him of glamourising addiction.
“Some guy commented on my video that ‘I do sniff every other weekend but the way you’re glamourising it for these young kids is really horrible’,” he recalls. “That’s what annoys me, when people bring kids into it. I’m going to ruin these kids – no I’m not. I’m not the messiah of drugs.”
But what of the creators themselves? Are they really as on it as their videos make out?
“At the minute I’m trying not to go out every weekend,” Saunders tells me. Post-lockdown, he had a big summer and is getting back on the health train. But his content is rooted in his own reality: “I do go out, go down the pub with pals and have a drink and whatever else. I know what it’s like – I’ve been to raves with these people”.
“To an extent, the character is me,” Hill-Anderson says. “But it’s me in my early twenties. I’m nowhere near that anymore.”
Besides, he says with a laugh, he prefers ket.