The best Vines, well, they built whole worlds.
Consider Semi, a high school-aged ringtone rapper on accident from Edgewood who garbled out a mumbling, stumbling rap back in 2013 and went very viral. Semi's Vine was titled "another 6 sec rap," and it was a catchy, compelling rap over a shrimpy synth beat wherein Semi doesn't quite get all the words out: "I'm Semi I stay automatic/ Money add then multiply/ I call that math-a-mat-em..."
The six seconds are up before he gets the last two "-atic" syllables completed.
This Vine hopped over to WorldstarHipHop where everything ends up, out of context, monetized, and ready to be mocked—but Semi cannot be mocked really, just admired. Encouraged by the rinky-dink beat I think, he adds a syllable to a word and makes up a new word, "mathematematic," to make it sound better.
Praising and deep-diving into Vine risks explaining the joke and killing it, but Vine's looping qualities demand you dig deeper and think harder and soak in every detail until it all seems sort art-directed. In the video, Semi spits, raising the camera up across his face and above while a kid shoots hoops in the background. They are in a cul-de-sac in what looks like anywhere in America. It is tossed-off and glorious. The messy mise-en-scène of the real world.
The next Semi however, will have to go somewhere other than Vine. The video hosting service, which announced its end back in October, went stagnant today. There will be no more new vines and because the internet is all temporal capital, who knows exactly how long the ones that are hosted on the site will stay up. "Remember to download your Vines before Jan 17," the site has been ordering its users for months now, politely and ominously, which is how every interaction on the internet feels.
But maybe Baltimore's too bonkers and beautiful to be bottled into six seconds on Vine anyway. The defining short internet Baltimore thingy is really a slightly longer clip from Instagram. Fitted with the caption, "he out," it captures the infamous escaped steer of 2014 plodding through West Baltimore, determined, serious, making a go for it. It's moving seeing something full of freedom and not sure what to do with it. And thanks to the music Instagrammer rawb_q's playing in his car as he shot the video, the steer stomps are set to Travis Porter's melodious 'The Money.' The bull was eventually shot and killed—a cop poked his head out of a cop car window and fired like it wasn't a big deal, an eyewitness claimed. But everything dies eventually, doesn't it?
By the way, for Noisey, City Paper contributor Al Shipley went all the way up to Edgewood and talked to the then-high school senior Semi who seemed reasonable, self-aware, and mildly interested in moving this minor fame into something bigger. Semi holds up in the interview too: he's even more compelling with a little back story, another peek into his world. More context can't kill Semi—that isn't necessarily true of most Vines though every Vine is worth saving for some reason or another to somebody out there.