On a Thursday night, rapper Emmanuel Williams is sitting at home watching Kellyanne Conway on CNN and laughing.
The 2016 election turned Williams from an entertainment junkie into a news junkie. “This last election cycle, they made the news like TV,” he said.
People are often surprised that he knows so much about politics. He didn’t graduate from college, he said. But, “I read a lot.”
When Omarosa Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House,” came out, Williams used his lunch break from his job in customer service to run to Barnes & Noble and buy it.
He was hooked instantly.
“I was like, ‘This is good,’ ” Williams said.
For laughs, Williams, who performs under the name DDm, decided to post a Facebook Live video of himself reading an excerpt.
His first video, posted last week, begins with a hearty cackle.
“Oh my god…,” he says, like a best friend about to dish out some juicy gossip. “This is a page turner like a mother[expletive]…”
He proceeds to read the book’s prologue, offering commentary where appropriate. Analyzing White House chief of staff John Kelly’s firing of Newman in the White House situation room, he compares it with a police interrogation.
“They always tell you you in trouble, but never tell you why you in trouble,” he said.
(Watch the video below, but warning: it includes explicit language)
When he ended the live broadcast, he discovered that 2,000 people had tuned in to watch, an unusually high number for him. “I was like, ‘Oh, OK,’ ” he said.
By the following day it had reached 10,00 views.
“Now its over 500,000,” he said.
So he’s kept going, reading more excerpts of the book, like a NSFW version of Audible.
With the views has come publicity: A radio station in Washington played a sample of one of his videos, bleeping out the curse words that pepper his speech. NPR has been interviewing him for an upcoming show.
Even Newman herself has caught wind of the videos.
“Omarosa commented,” Williams said. “From what I’ve been told, she really wants to meet me. I know she does like what I’ve been doing.”
Newman has good reason to like the videos: Williams said he’s heard from viewers who bought her book after watching his series, and are now giving her a second chance after having written her off for years.
Williams has been an Omarosa fan since her Apprentice days. “I always love a person that surprises you,” he said.
And he’s happy that his videos have encouraged people — particularly black people — to consider her in a different light.
“What these readings have done, they’ve humanized her to people,” he said. “People are like, ‘You know what, I woulda done that, too.’ ”
He’s most gratified when viewers comment to say they’ve learned something from his videos, and he hopes they can help people connect with what’s happening in the midst of a relentless news cycle. He’s planning on launching a politics and culture podcast next month called “Secretary of Shade.”
“We need people to be engaged and excited about whats going on in the world they live in,” he said.