Tag Archives: appropriation

On Kreayshawn and the Utility of Black Women

6 Jun

Image of Kreayshawn in the passenger seat of a car next to a black man smoking weed.

“De nigger woman is de mule uh de world…”- Zora Neale Hurston

I grew up in a white suburban/rural community where I was one of a few black kids and the only one in my classes and social circle. In high school, we had this habit of waxing nostalgic for our not so distant youth in a way that made us feel older than we were so at a parties we’d often play songs from our childhood. Well once, Baby Got Back came on and I was rapping along as were a white boy and white girl. A crowd formed around them and folks were cheering them on for knowing most of the words while my flawless performance went unacknowledged. Looking back, I see clearly the messy contradictions of racism (and my own internalization of it) as white folks celebrated their proficiency in repeating a black man’s words of purported celebration of my curves that in general, made me invisible. My blackness rendered my rendition null and void as it was presumed I should be able to reproduce that lyrical dexterity on the spot. It was exceptional when they did it but par for the course for me.

And this is partly why Kreayshawn makes me mad. The White Girl Mob media darling blowing up the interwebs whose potential deal with Sony is making waves makes me angry in a way I haven’t been in a long time. Her appropriative swag is yet another reminder (not that we needed any more this month) of how little black women are valued in our society, even in genres we co-create. In a moment where cool is synonymous with swag, a particular manifestation of black masculinity, Kreayshawn’s dismissiveness and denigration of black women animate her success.

“It’s like tumblr made a video,” said one tumblrite, speaking of the white Cali hipster aesthetics of Kreyashawn’s Gucci Gucci. Replete with Indian medallion, black girl hair cut and color, black men flank her on all sides, lending their cool and legitimacy as she talks stealing bitches, smoking blunts, and realness. Catchy with no substance and ample “I’m so different from them other black girls,” Kreyashawn is the perfect accoutrement to the tortured misogyny of her friends and co-signers Odd Future. For her, calling women bitches and hoes is funny, a category she is somehow exempt from via her whiteness and sometimes queerness. She’s got swag because she fucks bitches too, though she’s quick to point out she’s “not a raging lesbian.”

I think “Hoes on My Dick” perhaps best captures my problems with Kreayshawn and those who dig her.  About a year ago, comedian Andy Milonakis (Who you might remember from his brief MTV fame) and Rapper Lil’ B decided to parody rap music and made the satirical “Hoes on My Dick” which features the choice language “Hoes on my dick cuz I look like Madonna” or “Hoes on my dick cuz I look like grandma.” Anyway, we were supposed to laugh. Ha ha! Isn’t funny/ironic when they say misogynist things when they know it’s wrong? Kreayshawn took their track and made it her own adding her own lyrics, “rapped” (if you could call it that) with all due seriousness and folks love it!

As Crunktastic has already pointed out on this blog, the derogatory slang words used for women imply race. “Hoes” are black and the proverbial punchline (pun intended) for the LA hispster/hip hop mash up sound that music critics are lauding. The supposed *wink wink nudge nudge* associated with their misogynoir is what makes them so edgy and so real. The objectification of black women as a lyrical trope is what makes Kreayshawn interesting. Look at this white girl who talks like a black man! Isn’t she awesome?

And not that black women haven’t tried to appropriate  a type of black masculine cool through a similar practice of denigrating other black women and expressing their allegiance to black men but they have not been as successful. Syd Tha Kid, DJ and beat maker for Odd Future is currently following this path and her queer black masculinity doesn’t seem all that queer when she speaks of women in the same derogatory fashion as her band mates.

Kreayshawn claims Nicole Wray, Missy and Aaliyah as women who inspired and influenced her sound but black women are rarely seen in her circle or videos. I’ve clocked two black women in Kreayshawn’s videos, one a silent love interest, and the other a silent hair stylist. In so far as black women are useful, they exist, though they never get to voice their own reality. It’s incredibly frustrating that the more things change the more things stay the same, that Zora Neal Hurston’s words still ring true today.

Special thanks to Alexsarah and CF’s Sheri & Whitney for talking through this with me!

Apparently Kreayshawn was on the brain today. Check out Clutch Magazine’s take.

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