With more than 1 million views, Black Max’s YouTube channel is much needed laughter to survive this global Panini aka Pandemic. The success of his channel demonstrates the value-add of content created by Gambian Youth. While our private and public TV stations air the same 10 music videos day and night and/or political discourse, they’re missing out on quality entertainment that in any other country would be a feature show.
We asked to share his journey thus far. Meet Black Max!
Tell your story. Who is Blackmax?
I am a YouTuber, I create funny videos about Gambians and Africans on various interesting social topics. Born and raised in the Gambia, I believe the world is my playground. While I have yet to travel, my dream is to explore our continent capturing our stories and experiences, visually.
Growing up, I was fond of the internet and it became my hobby. My love for all things internet was the highlight of my day, after school I could be found in front of the computer learning and exploring. It consumed all my free time, little did I know that this could open doors for me and to discover my passion. This new world, kept me out of trouble (partying, clubbing, hanging out etc.) because I knew, I wasn’t destined to follow the crowd. I coveted adventure, success and happiness!
How did the Black Max brand, and YouTube channel start?
It all started in 2015, when I created my first Facebook group called “Gambia Talented Students”. I was still a student, but that did not stop me from actively engaging and posting both entertainment and educational content. In 2016, I started my own blog page called I am-Spike (I am-Spike.blogspot.com) and the main purpose of this blog was about writing stories concerning Africa, fiction and non-fiction articles edited by Dr. Saul Njie.
In 2017, I was one of the top (youngest) bloggers in the Gambia, I have since taken a break from writing blogs as my research appetite on YouTube grew. With my hunger to entertain as well as educate, I channeled my passion from blogging to YouTube. I created the channel called Blackmax, and I started uploading weekly videos that comprises of both entertainment and education.
The name Blackmax literally means ‘Black to the Max’. Most, of my friends tease me or make fun of my skin color; not in a racist way but just to crack jokes, this happens, almost, every time I am with them. Using my real name Rilwan Jarboh, as my channel name would have been a good start but my full name is too long. And, simply using my first name, it won’t help me when it comes to the YouTube search algorithm for the simple fact that there are thousands with the name Rilwan, and it won’t be a good Idea to use it especially, someone, with zero YouTube channel subscribers at the time.
I use BLACKMAX because some of my friends think I am too black and not just my friends but also, people I meet in different places. I am just happy to say, I am black and I love my skin color no matter how I look! Today, I have become one of Gambia’s best YouTuber with the name that was meant for cracking jokes because of my skin color. I see myself as a living proof that the only thing that can stop is you, is you, so don’t.
Check out this video. Skip to 4:57 for our favorite part!
What does it take to make your videos from start-to-finish?
As a content creator, good content is very important for the viewers. Currently, there are about hundred or so, content creators in the Gambia which pushes me to be more creative and to come up with content that is entertaining and educational. It is hard-work that requires me to work smart, as it can be very time consuming. Media requires thinking outside the box to deliver an outstanding job.
I am inspired by the day-to-day activities and discussions I have with friends and relatives. For example, my “Why are Gambian Boys Stingy” came from a conversation I had with a girl online, and she asked me why are Gambian boys stingy? Best believe, she is a Gambian, and I guess she has yet to meet any Gambian guy who’s romantic enough to treat her like a queen. On that episode, out of 100 people I interacted with 99% believe Gambian men are stingy. Life imitates art in my process, these types of questions people find interesting and engaging.
When it comes to shooting my street videos, it’s not as simple as it looks. It takes time and patience to shoot an excellent video. Every time, I have an idea for a video, I have to plan a day for it because I will need my friends to help me shoot the video. Once, my friends help me shoot a video, I edit the raw content which may take a day or two before, I post it on my channel.
My biggest challenge as a content creator is our poor power outrage. The power supply in my area hinders my job. Poor and expensive internet service is another challenge that usually slows down my work. It would be nice to have strong and fast internet connections to effectively carry out my work on time because sometimes, it can take hours to upload 8-10 minute videos.
What’s your favorite video thus far? Why?
I have lots of favorite videos. However, for the benefit of the question my favorite video on my channel will be the one with my elder brother, titled “Blackmax Science Experiment W/ Big Bro”. I enjoyed this video because that was the first time we had a video together since I started my YouTube channel.
As a local celebrity, how has your channel changed your life?
The greatest impact has been my research capacity. I love exploring, and now find time to research and enjoy my fact finding missions. It has also created income for me, no matter how small it is, I can confidently say I am self-employed.
Even though I am famous, I am still the same guy, and I still remember who I was before the world told me who I should I be… humble and loyal. I appreciate all the people that support me, and if you are reading this right now just know I love you.
Have you ever had to deal with angry participants after your video airs? If so, how do you handle such individuals?
Yes, I once had a problem with a student that I interviewed and she got the questions I asked her wrong. She was able to find my contact and told me to delete the video or edit her part out which I found ridiculous for someone I asked permission before interviewing.
I explained nicely that I can’t delete the video just for her sake, and that other people on the video got the questions correct but she wasn’t having it. She kept calling my line until I blocked her at some point. I hope one day she will understand that it was not my fault and I couldn’t do what she exactly wanted me to do.
As a content creator, what is your dream project or job?
I really don’t have a dream job but I have a dream to own a multimillion-dollar media house. My dream project is to work with one of the best camera-man and movie directors in the Gambia (and abroad) to create a high-class movie that will be appreciated globally. Hopefully, these dreams will come true in the future.
How do you envision your creative outlet changing and evolving in the upcoming years?
Most of the content, I create on my channel is outdoor videos that will change soon. I plan to minimize outdoor videos and introduce more indoor videos. This will give my subscribers the opportunity to get a different feel with my work.
I want to seize this opportunity, to thank and show appreciation to all my subscribers! I want you all to know that I love you, thank you for always liking my videos, and leaving lovely comments. Feel free to drop your suggestions to improve my content.
A big thank you to Fyen, for this opportunity to share a small piece of my journey.
The Our Stories, Our Way Fast Three!
1. What’s your favorite song at the moment?
At the moment, it will be Omah Lay – Godly
2. If you had a superpower, what would it be:
Read people’s mind.
3. If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and why?
Gee (Gibou Bala-Gaye), I have so many questions to ask him about his life, music career and advice.