Whatever Happened To ... The comedic rapper who hit it big on YouTube
On June 10, 2009, Remy Munasifi was 28 and just another Arlington resident, grabbing grilled cheese sandwiches at Whitlow's in the Clarendon neighborhood where he'd been living for one month.
The next day, he decided to upload to YouTube a funny rap video he'd done celebrating his new Starbucks-laden, brown-flip-flop-wearing 'hood. The video -- "Arlington: The Rap" -- became a hit in the Zip code it mocked (22201). Views jumped to 300,000 in less than a day.
Then, the media came calling: The Washington Post-owned Express posted an interview with him online June 12; The Post's Metro section featured him June 13 and a month later ran his comical take on where then-prospective U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor should live.
All of a sudden, he couldn't walk down Wilson Boulevard without getting recognized.
"I was walking by La Tasca, and people were having dinner outside," he recalls. "People started stopping me. ... It was very weird."
Today, views of Munasifi's Arlington rap video surpass 1.1 million. Last fall, he signed with a talent agent, the Gersh Agency, and in December landed a Comedy Central Records deal. He has opened for the likes of local rap star Wale and comedian Brian Posehn over the past few months, but the majority of his time has been devoted to cranking out new songs for his iTunes summer release.
"It's going to be just as silly as the stuff I've created up to this point," he says.
Although Munasifi may have been a stranger to much of Arlington before rapping about it, he was already well-known to YouTube fans. The Arlington rap is his 10th or 12th most popular, he says. He's been making a full-time living off ad revenue from his online videos -- with songs such as "Two Percent Milk: The Rap" (2.3 million views) and "A-R-A-B: The Rap" (4.2 million views) -- since November 2007.
Like his previous material, Munasifi's iTunes tracks will be inspired by pop culture, food, and his Iraqi and Lebanese heritage. Once the CD is out, he plans to upload new videos. Fans also can catch the comic live, as he's lining up a summer college campus and comedy club tour.