It's no exaggeration to say no-one has had as much impact on UK meme culture in 2017 as Big Shaq AKA The Man Whom is Never Hot AKA comedian Michael Dapaah. Since delivering his Fire in the Booth freestyle on Charlie Sloth's 1Extra show, Big Shaq and his jacket have been doing bits both URL and IRL. From Jon Snow memes to videos of an African wedding reception popping off to the tune, to the guy sitting behind me in the cinema during It who shouted 'SKIYA!' in response to Pennywise saying "pop pop", "Man's Not Hot" is inescapable.
Now in the UK top 30 and having made history as the highest charting debut artist of the year – all without even a music video – I thought it was time I meet the man behind the runaway tune of the year. At a time when my writing career is in constant threat of pivoting to video and leaving me to starve or join a pyramid scheme, a man who is an expert in viral video is exactly what I need to secure this cuffing season. At his request, we meet in his south London hometown of Croydon – specifically, at a Starbucks in the shopping centre. It looks like we're sitting in an airport without drinks because security wouldn't let photographer Bekky Lonsdale shoot inside the Starbucks, idk. But feeling like I was 16 years old again, I decided to go full basic bitch and order a pumpkin spice latte with extra cream. Big Shaq got an iced caramel latte, probably to keep him from getting hot.
We found a cosy spot in the corner of the al fresco-but-still-inside-a-shopping centre area of Starbucks and I set about trapping him before Drake inevitably tries to sign him to OVO Sound and he becomes too famous to be seen in public.
Noisey: I'm surprised you're not wearing a puffa jacket.
Big Shaq: It's in my bag just in case.
I wore mine especially for the occasion.
I still got tracksuits and jacket on, don't worry babes. I like your jacket though.
Do you come to this Starbucks often for dates?
No I don't come Starbucks often, it's just a special place for you… babes. Obviously after the Cardi B post bare girls started DMing me so I had to move fast.
I didn't DM you though so I don't know why you're making those eyes at me.
It's alright babes, we're here together now.
I'm getting a bit hot now you know.
Do you want me to take off your jacket?
Nah I'm good I'm just gonna take it off myself.
I never take off my jacket.
Have you seen the one with the bird and his tapping feet ?
Yeah that's a sick one, that one's funny because you don't expect it. Nice hair and that.
Birds don't have hair.
No your hair.
Oh my hair! Thank you. What do you look for in a woman? Is hair important?
I think it's very important for a girl's hair to smell nice. How does yours smell? L'Oreal? Pantene?
I use Mane & Tail.
I don't know what that is babes, sounds like it's for animals.
It's good for curly hair; I got it from Pak's.
Pak's? You got a six-pack too?
I do actually, do you?
When you draw it on?
Nah sometimes I got packs with me, you get me.
Anyway, I see you've brought a banana: I hate bananas. You can't ever eat them around me if our relationship goes any further.
The banana is not for you babes.
But like even if you eat it in my presence and I smell it I'll puke.
Don't worry about that. I like your nose ring. Creative.
Do you have any piercings?
Not that you can see. They're not on me.
Did you pierce your banana?
Oh she got banter!
What you up to today?
I've been out and about in the town, round and round. [Our drinks arrive] That looks nice. Very creative.
I told you to get cream on your drink.
Nah I'm on a diet.
I'm tryna fatten up, get thick for winter.
That's good babes, it looks like it's working.
What kind of girls are you into?
All shapes and sizes, I'm not biased. I like a variation. Short hair, though. We can go to the same barbers and that.
I went to the barber with my boyfriend one time, I got an undercut. A long time ago.
Oh like when Rihanna did it. So you're a copycat.
Actually I did it before Rihanna.
That's what they all say. You're begging it a bit, don't beg it.
I wish she was my friend.
When you get with someone like Big Shaq you can be anyone's friend.
This is all actually a ploy to get to Rihanna.
I like that. You're in the right hands and in the right place. You're protecteded.
Protecteded. The extra -ed is the extra shielding, you know what I'm saying?
Your bio on Insta says you've got an invisible beard. Is your lack of beard a source of pain for you in your dating life?
[silence] As you can see, things are slyly starting to change. I'm going barbers later, they'll sort me out. Where's your beard?
I shaved it off for this date.
Yeah it's evident.
What was your inspiration for "Man's Not Hot"?
It's just an everyday thing. You put me in certain situations and I never get hot.
How long have you not been hot?
My whole life.
What's the warmest you've ever felt?
In the summer.
What's the least amount of clothing you've ever worn?
You've never been naked?
No. I shower with my vest on.
Is it a string vest?
I'm not a yardie babes.
I thought it would make it easier, what with the holes and that. Do you wear your puffer in summer?
Yeah always. Went to Bognor Regis this summer with it on. Bognor, puffa on. Brighton, puffa on.
So, your tune is in the UK top 30, did you expect this to happen?
Everything I do is for the people. The people wanted it and they supported it. Top 30 with no music video, it's mad.
Is there one on the way?
Oh we got the fire coming. Do you wanna be the main girl?
Have you noticed that UK video girls are all a bit stush and embarrassed compared to American video girls? Like their parents are behind the scenes.
That's true you know.
Maybe you should fly some out from America.
Nah that's long. UK ting.
What do you think of the idea of "Man's Not Hot" being a Christmas number 1?
Anything is possible. If the people want it, they will get behind it and make it happen, make history. We've already made history.
Cheers to that! I can't believe this security guard is just sitting here watching us.
Don't worry about him, he's got a big belly, wasteman.
I like a belly in a man.
Do you? I've got a belly as well. Whatever you like I got that. I can be whatever you want.
That shows lack of character.
Not really, it shows I'm ready to bend and flex to please you.
It means you got no backbone.
I've got a backbone, it's solid. But I'll bend my backbone for you.
I've seen a lot of videos of people going nuts to your track in the club and at weddings. Have you experienced "Man's Not Hot" in the club first hand yet?
Crazy. Ballistic. Bonkers. I was in a club in Hoxton this weekend and it came on – they were shining all the lights on my face, I told them to allow that. The girls were going crazy tryna touch my chest and that.
Have you seen the Slow Jam version ?
No but I'd like to see.
It's very romantic, I might just play it off my phone as the background to our date.
[We watch the clip]
What did you think?
His afro was out of place and that, he needs to touch barbers. But it's good. Different.
I was scrolling deep through your Instagram before this date, and noticed an RIP Paul Walker post. Are you a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise?
Yeah I like fast cars.
What's your favourite car?
Probably a Ferrari F450.
That's quite basic.
That's my favourite fast car. My favourite slow car is a Rolls Royce Rafe, the one with the stars on the roof. Because I'm a star. My babes will be a star too.
I once had a man with a car.
We broke up. I was only really with him for his car.
He probably clocked you were a gold digger and got rid of you.
It took him six years.
You're a bad person. That's not gonna happen with us, I'm gonna make you walk everywhere.
Are you just gonna follow me in the car?
Nah I'll meet you there.
[I notice him looking at another girl walking past] Are you watching other girls on our date?
Nah babes, they're just all tryna look at me and that. I'm just making sure they don't come over.
You must have a lot of female fans, especially in Croydon. I'm surprised we're not getting rushed by women right now to be honest.
I chose this spot especially so that doesn't happen – upstairs, lowkey, in the corner. Don't worry about them.
If we were dating would you hold my hand?
I don't really do dem tingz. I'm not really on the PDA ting.
I love PDA.
You can do that on your own still. Hold your own hand, you're not holding mine.
Let's talk Lynx effect. Are you really still using Lynx at your big age?
Lynx and that, they haven't hollered, so man's moved on. I'm using Sure.
Does Sure even have a smell?
What Lynx did you use when you were still repping Lynx effect?
Africa. Continental smell. Why don't they make a Lynx Asia? Or Antarctica. For the polar bears and that. Father Christmas, my brudda.
Do you like Christmas?
How many girls have you got to buy presents for?
If we were together what would you buy me?
Whatever you like.
I'll get you a little something from Pandora's Box.
I only wear 24 carat Iranian gold. As you can see I'm already dripping in it so I need a man that will add to my lifestyle.
Let me tell you something babes – man is not a bank. Obviously man's balling but it's not to go buy Oobanian gold.
It's my birthday this week, though.
Oh yeah? What you saying, quick getaway? Ibiza closing parties.
I think it's already closed.
When Big Shaq comes through they'll open it up again. Hot date and that. [Starts spitting] Hot date with the lat(t)e / Just after 8.
Stop tryna be smart, babes.
What's next for Big Shaq?
Everything Big Shaq does is big, so what you're gonna see is more big stuff. Clothing line ting.
With man's not hot and some flame emojis?
Am I a kebab shop? No flame emojis.
Do you like kebabs?
Nah I don't eat doner meat. I like chicken.
What's your favourite type of chicken?
Nandos Peri Peri. Hot.
Are you gonna take me to Nandos on our second date?
Nah babe, never.
That's good. Where would we go then?
Even though I'm from the roads I can be kinda romantical. Wherever you like. I wanna be the reason you smile.