MattyB is a 13-year old YouTube music sensation who lives outside of Atlanta. I am a 24 year old correspondent living in Rio de Janeiro covering the 2016 Olympics.
MattyB creates videos for his take on popular songs and they get tens of millions of views. I write an article with on-the-ground reporting and maybe someone favorites my tweet about it.
MattyB wrote a book. I am still waiting for my first book deal.
MattyB's book was not for me, and that made sense. He is an internet sensation with passionate, young fans that do not include me. If I was publicly swooning over a 13-year old boy on the internet as much as his age-appropriate fans were I probably would end up registering for a list you do not want to be on.
Anyway, the beauty of being a writer on the internet with any sort of credential is that you can reach out to publishers and request review copies of books. MattyB's memoir was not the first book I have gotten for free, and I really hope it is not the last. Most times, a review is expected, but it is never 100% a guarantee, so you get a free book that you can tweet about for publicity sake.
Given that MattyB is a child, I thought it would be rude to request a free copy of his book and then not read it. So, I dove into this memoir with no opinion and promised I'd give it an honest review. The book is called "That's a Rap," which is a play on MattyB's rap career. I chuckled.
Well, soccer fans, I think it is safe to say I am not the target demographic for this novel.
The last time I watched a MattyB video, I turned it into a blog post here that nobody read, and the people who did mocked me for even approaching such a subject.
Back to the topic at hand, I want to give credit to the ghostwriter of this book. Travis Thrasher clearly worked well with MattyB to come up with a voice that is the young singer's but refined enough to pass an editor's pencil. It is a fine line of capture the whimsy of a child remembering his 7-12 years, while making the prose clean.
As for the book itself, it is fine. MattyB talks about haters, his favorite foods, what got him into singing, and his sister Sarah Grace. He is an eternal optimist, which makes sense because he's 13, and really does want to make a difference in the world one day. He's highlighted how his family does charity work for children with Downs Syndrome because of Sarah Grace's condition, and he genuinely loves his family and god. It is all very nice.
The setup of the book is choppy because each "chapter" is a short vignette from MattyB's brain. No chapter is more than three pages long, and there is no consistent narrative structure to be honest. Its just kind of a kid talking about things he likes in the order he wants to present them. It leads to sections where he lists his 10 favorite foods on one page, then breaks into the story about how he and his cousin got an inspiration for a video that got 50 million hits, and follows it up with 3 whole pages writing about his catch phrase, and I am not making this up, "chyeah."
I wouldn't suggest readers of this blog read this book unless they are under the age of 15, or have kids who are fans of MattyB. I will say though, it is admirable someone as creative and driven as him managed to write his first book at such a young age. I may have a nice career that is starting out, but I do not have an insanely popular YouTube channel, a record label, the opportunity to go across the country touring, or adoring fans that would do a lot of things just to have the chance to spend 30 seconds with me while I sign a poster of mine that they spent actual currency on and waited hours to buy.
I guess what I am saying is, I should not have been upset with myself when I would get annoyed at parts of this book I cannot relate to. There is a chapter where seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve year old MattyB discuss video games they liked at different ages over three pages. I live in a country where democracy is crumbling, the economy has contracted over 4% in the last year, crime is growing considerably in the streets, and there are days when I am afraid to walk to my apartment alone at night. I think it was unfair of me to think that I could relate to different parts of this book. MattyB talked so much about putting yourself out there, and he did that with his book. It is entirely unfair to trash it. If you have a child that likes MattyB, get that BBoy or BGirl (his fanbase) a copy.
Atlanta United should get MattyB out there for a game to perform during the inaugural season. He has an incredibly strong brand, collaborates with young, wholesome artists around the area, and promotes a family-friendly lifestyle that I would assume is well adored in the Southeast. MLS has gotten flack in the past for trying to appeal to the "soccer mom" and kid demographics and has sharply shifted away to supporter culture in recent years. I have my own opinions on that, but i do believe to some extent that sports should have some family friendly environments so that young kids can enjoy it. Atlanta United should have its own culture, with adult themes, but it would not be horrible if the younger demographic had their spaces. A halftime show like this would show support. I hope people of all ages feel welcome with Atlanta United, and I hope MattyB joins a show on the Mouths of the South Podcast.
Do I have a takeaway from this experience? I guess it would be this: don't read books on the beach, because they make your computer sandy when you are trying to go back to look at pages.