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Earlier this year, a message on child influencer Lil Tay’s dormant social media account erroneously announced that she and her brother Jason were both dead. Tay (birth name Claire Hope) became a viral star at just nine years old by imitating the hyper-masculine, hyper-capitalistic side of hip hop. She posed with cars, she waved around stacks of cash, she spouted slurs and profanity, she parroted African American Vernacular English. And then she fell off the map for about five years, returning with a death hoax and—surprise—a new single.
Tay speaks up about her situation for the first time in a new profile for Rolling Stone, though writer EJ Dickson notes that the young wannabe star’s story is about as opaque as ever. For instance, neither Tay nor her mother Angela Tian would answer directly as to how old she is, both opting to call her “timeless” instead. (Court records reportedly confirm Tay is 16.) There are still no answers as to who perpetrated the death hoax. Tay, her mother, and her brother all blame her father Christopher Hope and erstwhile manager Harry Tsang. Both of them also deny involvement in the hoax, and Tsang directs blame to Tay’s brother Jason drumming up a publicity stunt. Jason also denies making the post.
There is one definitive statement to come out of the profile: “I always had a vision of myself becoming famous. It was something I wanted to do. And I just spoke it into reality,” Tay proclaims. The abrasive tiny “Tay” character is something she and her brother created together, but “I am the one that’s always wanted to become famous. I was the one who had a vision for myself as an artist, and I made it happen.” How it all happened is still somewhat of a mystery, but at this point, all we have is her word.
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