He was just out to experience the weather before Hurricane Irma's worst rolled through South Florida, but the interview subject of a local CBS 4 news report found his onscreen gaffe going viral within two hours of his brief TV appearance. A song sampling his voice was making the rounds online and on Power 96, and the "Evaculation" phenomenon was born.
He has embraced viral fame, but the man behind the song's earworm is still averse to some of the more invasive trappings of recognizability. He prefers to go by his creative name, Donk Planet, under which he already had a sizable following on social media. His pages promote donk culture, which celebrates the modification of Chevy Caprices or Impalas made from 1971 to 1976.
The song "Evaculation" was produced by Millennialnaires and House of EVO Entertainment, a music, TV, and film production company based in Los Angeles. Donk Planet, like everyone else, heard the song when it began circulating online, but he was onboard from the first listen. "I just heard the thing going around, so I started running with it too," he says. "I liked it! It's a feel-good song, so when I heard it, I had no choice but to like it." His voice perks up often when he talks about the song, and he breaks out into the hook in conversation.
Hurricane Irma had not yet made its way out of the state before Jimmy Kimmel played Donk Planet's viral news clip during his monologue. Trick Daddy gave Donk Planet a shout-out days later, and his social media pages were inundated with fan videos of the #evaculationchallenge, in which people danced and twerked along to the song.
In one video, a man embodied Miami's Irma defiance with an ill-advised dance outside during the hurricane while wearing a rain suit and beach hat and clutching a bottle of Grey Goose. In another clip, two friends "evaculated" at the summit of a mountain. Other footage shows a man break-dancing to the song on the subway in New York. House of EVO even gave Beyoncé the "evaculation" treatment.
Donk Planet seized the opportunity and began selling #evaculation T-shirts within days of the song going viral. He has pledged to donate part of the proceeds to Save the Children's Hurricane Irma and Maria relief fund. Facebook will match the fund's donations up to $1 million. Donk Planet has already made a donation to the fund and will continue to donate as proceeds roll in.
He knows this all began because people on social media were making fun of his on-camera mistake, but he has a remarkably upbeat attitude about the events of the past couple of weeks.
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"I don't feel like I said anything wrong, to be honest with you," Donk Planet says. "I tend to be creative, so when I said 'evaculation,' it's kind of two different meanings to me between 'evaculation' and 'evacuation....' Basically, the positive thing for me... was everybody was leaving, but I was going in the opposite direction. Everybody is running away. Me, I'm going to the battle, you feel me? I was headed to save my city."
Donk Planet says he was inspired by the images of neighbors rescuing neighbors from floodwaters in Houston, and though Miami was spared the worst of Irma's devastation, he sees his time in the internet spotlight as a chance to make something positive out of what has otherwise been a tough moment for Florida.
"At the time of Hurricane Irma, so many people were stressing about the hurricane," he says. "Houston had just happened where people got flooded, so a lot of people were scared that they didn't know how bad the storm was going to be. But then when the whole 'evaculation' situation came up and the song came out, it made people laugh. It made people smile. It kind of lowered your stress level a little bit."
"People try to say, 'He pronounced 'evacuate' wrong; he's a dumbass,' but when I hear the positive comments and the feedback from the people saying that this helped them get through the whole storm and the stress level that they were at when the whole situation was occurring, I feel good about it."