Khaby Lame climbs to the very top of TikTok

Khaby Lame - TikTok
@khaby.lame/TikTok

A new king has taken over TikTok, unseating Charli D’Amelio for the top spot on the platform.

Khaby Lame has been nipping at the heels of TikTok’s top performers for months, but he finally edged his way into the number one position on June 22, 2022. The beloved creator’s face is at least as recognizable as the major creators he unseated — except for, perhaps, Will Smith — and fans are delighted to see him finally secure the recognition he deserves.

Who is Khaby Lame?

Khabane Lame began his meteoric rise on TikTok during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining a slew of other creators in passing the extra time via the popular app. His earliest videos are standard TikTok fare, with the Senegalese-born creator populating his page with dancing videos and simple gaming content before branching out into the content that turned him into an all-out brand. He’s been situated in Italy through the pandemic — a fact people many have picked up on, thanks to his Italian subtitles and captions — and thus spent quite a bit of 2020 and 2021 under strict lockdown. This gave him plenty of time to find his unique rhythm on TikTok.

The app’s stitch and duet features allow one creator to pair their content with another’s, an ability that is often used to refute points or add some humorous input. Lame found a new purpose for the TikTok format in late 2020, when he began using it to respond to the often absurd “life hacks” that rose to particular popularity during the pandemic. His early attempts gradually transformed into the straightforward format most viewers are familiar with, a process that aided in absolutely rocketing him to popularity on the app.

Even if you didn’t know his name before starting this article, chances are good that you’re familiar with Lame. His videos, showing the exceedingly simple alternatives to absurd, expensive, and complex online “hacks,” made him an instant star in 2021, and that popularity has persisted into 2022. He’s branched out into other formats, but Lame’s “obvious solution” videos are still his most popular.

How did he become number one?

TikTok’s favorite quietly exasperated creator has been organically growing his fanbase for several years now. He climbed to join TikTok’s biggest creators in early-2021, before rising to become the second most-followed TikTok account in July of the same year. He’s been a step below D’Amelio for nearly a year now, but late June 2022 saw the popular creator finally bypass the longstanding top dog to cinch the number one position for himself. It’s hard to say how long he’ll maintain in the top spot, but TikTok is definitely here for his charmingly ordinary videos.

Unlike D’Amelio, and many of TikTok’s biggest stars, Lame’s meteoric rise wasn’t assisted by a slew of partnerships and sponsors. The D’Amelio sisters have their own Hulu show, after all, providing them with a reach that far outpaces many of their TikTok peers. Despite this, Lame’s fanbase runs deep enough to unseat D’Amelio’s longstanding position at the top, and could just see him retain his throne for a good while.

It’s almost inevitable that Lame will be unseated eventually, but for now viewers are celebrating his unexpected success, and clamoring for more of his silent, bemused content.