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Quarantine stars: D-Nice, Joe Exotic and others who've soared during self-isolation

Some of the people and things making a name for themselves as the world is on pause

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

When we get out of this quarantine, D-Nice’s booking fees are going to go up.

The DJ has been a bright spot as we’ve all been on lockdown, as his “Homeschool” live sets, which he’s been performing live on Instagram from the comfort of his living room, have become a rallying point for fans in isolation looking for a release while practicing social distancing.

DJ D-Nice, whose real name is Derrick Jones, has seen his profile grow though this "Homeschool" live sets on Instagram live.

He’s one of the winners of the coronavirus shutdown, which has ground the world to a halt over the last few weeks.  

Here’s more on his triumph, and several other winners (and losers) th emerged, so far, from the 2020 quarantine.

Winner: D-Nice — Earlier this month, D-Nice — real name Derrick Jones — drew more than 100,000 viewers to his old school dance party; among those logged on were Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Rihanna and, er, Joe Biden. The next night, more than 150,000 users tuned in, and he’s gained more than 1 million Instagram followers in the last week.  

D-Nice is no newcomer. The New Yorker has been in the hip-hop scene for more than 30 years — fun fact, he’s credited with discovering Kid Rock, and helped Rock sign his first deal with Jive Records — and is an accomplished photographer in addition to his rap chops.

Others are using Instagram Live during this stoppage, but none more effectively than D-Nice. He is showing the value of a good old fashioned dance party, even if we’re all just dancing on our own.

Winner: Netflix — Has there ever been a better time to be stuck indoors? More than ever before, Netflix is our friend, a virtual library of current and classic movies, binge-worthy TV series (the new season of “Ozark” is now up!) and streaming concerts which, right now, are as close as we can get to the real thing.

In the early days of Netflix, its content was viewed as less than stellar, save for a few popular titles. That’s far from the case now, as its vault of content is seemingly endless, and new things are being added weekly. Which brings us, of course, to…

Winner: “Tiger King” — The biggest star to emerge thus far from the corona crisis is Joe Exotic, the madman at the center of Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” which details the Oklahoma roadside zoo owner’s life as a gun-toting homosexual polygamist country singer, and that’s just the tip of the tiger’s claw.

It also delves into his relationships and rivalries with fellow big cat owners, exposing the weirdest world of egomaniac personalities you never knew existed in America. To start “Tiger King” is to finish “Tiger King” and emerge, seven episodes later, a changed person.

Winner: Taylor Swift — Somehow, the Kanye West-Taylor Swift rivalry came back around last week. There was a leaked phone call which someone released, but really, who cares.

Swift used the opportunity to post to Instagram about the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, rather than fueling the flames of the feud she once memorably said she “never asked to be a part of, since 2009.”

Nice move, Taylor. Now can we please, please, please, please, please, please, please put this story to rest? Pretty please?

Winner: Board games — Whose turn is it, yours or mine? Board games are back, as people are heading to their basements or to the top of their closets to blow the dust off their games of Life, Monopoly or other classics that they probably haven’t played in years. Roll the dice, take your turn, and travel back to a simpler time before all our entertainment was on screens.

Hey, is there a “Tiger King” board game yet?  

Loser: Pants — Who wears those anymore? If we weren't a sweatpants nation before, we definitely are now. 

Winner: Memes — Not even a global pandemic can slow the productivity of the internet. Quarantine memes are everywhere — "Tiger King" is currently responsible for roughly 60% of all meme content — which is helping everyone find a moment of levity in these scary, scary times. Along with first responders, truck drivers, grocery workers and others on the front lines, we also salute the meme makers in this time of need. 

Winner: Video chats — I've never done Facetime more in my life. Video conferences with pals, parents, co-workers, high school friends: the whole world is video chatting now, and it's nice to see smiling faces and awkwardly framed shots from the ones you love.

Sure, the audio isn't always clear and sometimes there's a moment when everyone is talking over one another, but when we're all apart, it's nice that we live in a time when the technology is in our hands to bring us closer together, even if it's through our screens. 

Winner: Star voyeurism — Nice pool, Tim McGraw.

Talk shows, Instagram Live sessions and shows such as Sunday's "iHeart Living Room Concert for America" special are bringing us behind closed doors and into the stars' homes, like a large-scale reboot of MTV's "Cribs." Even news anchors and talk show hosts are broadcasting from their homes, and sometimes we get to see their dogs. Who needs studios anyway? 

Winner: Songs with lyrics that can be applied to the current situation — In quarantine, even songs you've heard thousands of times before take on new meaning.

Hey Britney Spears, are you sure your loneliness is killing you and not saving you? Huey Lewis and the News' "Stuck With You" is now an anthem of quarantine togetherness. Even the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "The Impression That I Get" — "I'm not a coward I've just never been tested," Dicky Barrett sings, "I like to think that if I was I would pass" — sounds like it was written for today.

When the vague can be applied to the specific: that's the test, and power, of a good song.  

Winner: Booze — Happy Hour keeps getting earlier and earlier these days, doesn't it? 

Loser: FOMO — Fear of Missing Out, the perpetual fear of being out of the loop which motivates people to go out and do things even if they'd rather just stay home, has all but been killed now that no one is leaving their house for anything. Now we're all on the same page, for the good of humanity.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama