Who is the new Drip King? A conversation with Henry De Tolla, a.k.a. H00pify (2024)

Over the last few days a series of deeply unsettling TikToks have crossed my various feeds and group chats. Perhaps you have already seen these dispatches; if you haven’t, I suggest you make sure you’re seated and have a loved one nearby before you press play on the following video:

This is one of a series of videos made by the account H00pify--the TikTok alias of Henry De Tolla, a college student and lacrosse player at UMass Lowell--about “Baby Gronk,” “Livvy,” and “the Drip King.” Here, if you are sufficiently recovered, is another:

To watch these videos, which went semi-viral across Twitter this week, is to be thrust into an unsettling alien world, in which an unblinking De Tolla, grinning slightly at the camera, narrates, with an ungodly enthusiasm, the sagas of “Baby Gronk,” “Livvy,” and “The Drip King.” Who are these people? What are they doing? Is this a bit? Is this reality? Why do I feel so tired? What is that wind blowing across my soul?

Read Max’s cutting-edge investigations into insane bullsh*t happening online are funded entirely by paying readers.

Various publications, including Defector and Garbage Day, have done an excellent job explaining what is happening in this TikTok channel, and why. But no one has managed to contact H00pify himself. Until today. Read Max reached De Tolla on Thursday morning for a brief phone call. He discussed the characters he covers, the tone and aesthetic of his TikTok channel, and answered, once and for all, the question of whether or not Baby Gronk is the new Drip King.

Who is the new Drip King? A conversation with Henry De Tolla, a.k.a. H00pify (5)

The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Read Max: Why don't you start by telling me about your TikTok channel.

So, I used to make YouTube videos, but once I went to college, it was kind of hard to keep up with that. Then last May, I started making TikToks. It started off based around lacrosse content. And then, as that kind of died out, I made NFL content. And I started making videos with my mom, that did pretty well. And then I also started doing just covering pop culture, stuff like that.

What would you say is the stuff that does the best for you right now?

It's kind of a mixture--videos of my mom, they still do well, and covering pop culture and sports stories, they still do well, too. I guess it's not really as lacrosse-focused as it was when it started.

So I'm 37, which is basically, like, I should be euthanized any minute now. Can you explain to me like I have dementia who Baby Gronk, Livvy, and the Drip King are?

Yeah, so, I guess I'll start with Baby Gronk. He's been kind of viral on and off now for, I'd say, for the past two to three years.1 And he went famous because he was big at a young age and was compared to Gronk while playing football, so that's how he got the name “Baby Gronk.” And he somehow got a visit at Oregon, and, like, claimed he committed to Oregon at, like, seven years old. And that's when he first went viral for that, and they’ve kind of been playing off that ever since, because he has connections where he can get into these colleges and act like he's going on an official visit. But in reality, we know you can't go on an official visit till you're like a junior in high school.

Then Livvy, she's a gymnast.2 She's good at gymnastics. She's playing Division One gymnastics, like, she's really good at that. She went viral, because she was kind of the first person who was doing the sports stuff and the social media stuff when it first came out. She was kind of big before everyone started doing that. And she's also, like… I mean, people find her attractive, too. So that helps. If you look at her comments people are kind of like, you know, they're calling her attractive, and stuff like that helps. And then one time, Baby Gronk was at LSU and he met up with Livvy. And that's how the thing started.

Before I get into that, I guess, let's go into who The Drip King is. He plays lacrosse at UMass Amherst.3 And he started the same way I did, making lacrosse videos. One day, he made a video about eye black and called himself “The Drip King.” And that did really well. It's like, the most swag on the field. Doesn’t matter how good you are, what matters is how good you look on the field. And that took off, and another big part of his channel was basically trying to get Livvy to go on a date with him.

So the whole thing started at once. Baby Gronk met Livvy. I made a whole thing about it. And that's where it leaves it today.

So, I mean, I don't want to blow up your spot, but it's a joke, basically?

Oh, yeah. Yeah. 100%

Because I think part of the reason it was blowing up on Twitter was that people were reading your video as fully sincere.

No, yeah. I would say from everyone I've read, I've listened to a few podcasts, there's only two people who've known it was satire. Like, listen, if it wasn't gonna get views I wasn't gonna cover it. It’s kind of my thing at this point, where like, I can’t make a video being like, Hey, I know this is all [bullsh*t]. I don't actually care about this stuff. But most of my viewers--I would say it's geared towards, like, middle schoolers and high schoolers. And eventually it got to the mainstream circle where someone who's over the age of probably, like, 20 was watching the video and being like, What the hell?

So when you say satire… Some people are watching these videos sincerely, but you're not necessarily making them sincerely.

I guess the way I feel, like, I don't care, really, what Baby Gronk does with his life, or, what Livvy does with her life. I'm not sitting on my edge of my seat to see what school Baby Gronk tours next. And I think a reason people get so angry about it is because I'm so serious in my videos, and I talk in a tone and I don't blink in my videos, either. So people are like Bro, I think he’s A.I.-generated. That all comes back to my lacrosse videos, because when I first made those people were like, You never blink.

Do you lean into that stuff now? Like if you if you've made a video where you blink, you would redo it?

Yes, yeah, I make sure I do all the things that piss people off. Everyone’s like Oh, he put so many sound effects in his videos. That’s done intentionally. The “dings” and the “whoas” in the background. [Laughs]

How do you pick subject matter for your videos?

That’s where it gets hard. Luckily I've done pretty well, me picking it. And the funny thing too, is that the way this all started is that Baby Gronk’s dad DMed me on Instagram asking to make a video about him. They're like, Hey, here's some things you could do. And I'm like, Okay… He’s DMed me probably three or four times, and usually I’m like This is never gonna work. And one of those videos is the video [that you’re calling me about]. So yeah, he gives me an idea, and I could write the script knowing what's gonna make people angry. Like, “Will Baby Gronk Lead LSU to a National Championship?” Who knows how good he's gonna be at real football? Like, he's good for a 10-year-old right now, but we've seen this story many times.

I need to ask a final question of you. This is the question my readers are going to be most interested in knowing the answer to. In your opinion, is Baby Gronk the new Drip King?

I mean, I think you have to you have to go with “yes,” because Baby Gronk met Livvy in person and the Drip King hasn't met Livvy in person. So I think until the old Drip King meets Livvy in person, Baby Gronk is the new Drip King.

Is there anything else that you want us to make sure I mentioned or that you want to say?

No. I mean, I don't think I really have to worry about, like, my cover being blown to the youth. [Laughs]

1

Defector’s Dan McQuade explains Baby Gronk thusly:

Baby Gronk is Madden San Miguel, an “8 year old football sensation” per his YouTube page. He’s actually 10 now, and he has 318K followers on Instagram. […] Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett interviewed Jake San Miguel, who is Baby Gronk dad, last month. “We've done brand deals with Champs Sports, PSD underwear, we’ve worked with Michael Vick, we’ve worked with Wilson football, you name it we’ve done it,” Jake told him. “It’s only getting bigger. Everything’s monetized for him.” Also, Baby Gronk Dad was once a rapper.

2

The New York Times covered Dunne last November:

She was an all-American in her freshman year and made the Southeastern Conference’s honor roll as a sophom*ore majoring in interdisciplinary studies.

Ahead of the start of her junior season, Dunne is also at the leading edge of a movement shaking the old foundations of college sports: a female student athlete raking in cash thanks to the passage in 2021 of new rules allowing college athletes to sign name, image and likeness, or N.I.L., deals.

Dunne, 20, won’t give specifics on her earnings, which at least one industry analyst projects will top $2 million over the next year. [… She] earns a staggering amount by posting to her eight-million strong internet following on Instagram and TikTok, platforms on which she intersperses sponsored content modeling American Eagle Outfitters jeans and Vuori activewear alongside videos of her lip syncing popular songs or performing trending dances.

Who is the new Drip King? A conversation with Henry De Tolla, a.k.a. H00pify (2024)

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