If you’re plugged into the musical side of social media in any way you've seen artists posting videos and pictures of themselves riding hands-free scooter devices. You know them, the light up things that nobody knows what to call. The ones that Kylie Jenner plays with. From Justin Bieber to Chief Keef these things are everywhere:
They've even been making cameos in music videos—most notably during the one for Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj's “All Eyes on You.” But there are some big questions on people's minds, like “what the hell are these things?” and “where the hell did they come from?”
It turns out those are tough questions to answer with a Google search and no frame of reference for a few reasons: First, Segway has long had the scooter market cornered, and, second, there are a ton of companies all competing for brand recognition. According to a Wired article, these self-balancing scooters most likely originated in China, made by a company called Chic Robotics. But because of weak intellectual property rights in China the technology has been rebranded by different companies and celebrities, who just slap their names on it and mark up the price by amounts ranging from a couple hundred to a thousand or more dollars. You may have seen brands like SkyWalkers USA or the Phunkeeduck or Space Board or the less glamorous-sounding “Self Balancing One Wheel Electric Scooter with U.S. Charger” by Airwheel. Even Soulja Boy has released a scooter, cleverly named the SouljaBoard. Because why not?
Regardless of the brand, though, artists—especially in hip-hop—are obsessed with these things. And they should be. Even though they cost a pretty penny, these scooters are pretty damn cool, a nod to some Jetsons-like idea of the future. And every picture or video of someone on one is either awesome, hilariously stupid, or both. Just look at everyone having a sweet time on them:
Vic Mensa and Skrillex
Young Thug and friends
Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj
Sparkle is Noisey's intern and chief scooter correspondent.