Gucci Gucci, Louis louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
The basic bi*ches wear that sh*t, So I dont even bother
I put that on my partner, I put that on my family
Oakland city representer, address me as your majesty

Kreayshawn, "Gucci Gucci"

Over the 30+ years of its wax-based recorded history, hip-hop has birthed a number of artists with unusual motifs. Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, and Cee-Lo Green/Gnarls Barkley, come to mind. One of the genre's current stars is Nicki Minaj, whose performance-art/cartoon-inspired outfits and antics easily make her a hip-hop analog to Lady Gaga.

Where it concerns racial and gender diversity, the white female rapper has, surprisingly, been starkly rare stateside. Over the years, several mainstream pop and rock artists have dipped their toes into hip-hop based rhythm tracks for singles (Debbie Harry, Madonna, Paula Cole, Christina Aguilera) and others like Fergie and Ke$ha have integrated occasional rap-lyrics into their overall presentation. but the history of straight-up lady MC's has been minimal. Mostly, they've involved young women who didn't last past their first LP. Icy Blu, Tairrie B, Sarai, we hardly knew ye.

So, enter the White Girl Mob. Claiming Oakland, California as their home base, the central artists in this clique include Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and DJ Lil' Debbie. This group, Kreayshawn in particular, has cultivated a significant underground following with mixtapes and performances, enough to secure a deal with Columbia Records. .

Watching YouTube footage of these women, their cadence is quite salty and ghetto-tastic . They even defend use of the N-word as a neutral term of endearment for friends. I have to wonder: is this schtick? Do they talk like this all the time, like a typical Jerry Springer guest? Offhand, I'm not sure what to make of it, though I'm not remotely prone to defend it like rapper Mistah F.A.B., who apparently is one of their producers/mentors. V-Nasty reportedly was released from prison earlier this summer relating to a robbery. One hopes that this was not just a ploy for street credibility.

In the underrated film Black & White (1999), writer/director James Toback showcases a complicated interconnectedness of various whites and African-Americans in New York City. One of the film's several mini-plots involves Bijou Phillips as an affluent Manhattan-reared teen who makes out with black rappers in between hanging with her fellow white trust-funders and freaking out her parents with her 'hood-chick persona. She has an exchange with a teacher, and openly admits to some of her fetishes and wilding-out, but adds the disclaimer of "I'll grow out of it" someday.

It's interesting. I remember the white girls of my high school were definitely not in the hip-hop chick clique (though i'm sure that some had certain tapes on the low); indeed, rap was only just starting to become an occasional crossover presence on the mainstream charts, far from the fully integrated pop genre of today.

My high school-- suburban and parochial-- had a significant, though statistically modest, minority population. When NWA, Ice-T, Public Enemy, 2 Live Crew and the like first broke, inner-city resident Hype never really considered what it was like in racially homogenous suburbia/small town America-- and their households-- with nearly-or-exclusively white kids interacting with each other and conversing about this music. What lyrical references were foreign to them? What slang was brand-new to them? Did the girls think the guys were sexy? How did they feel about hearing n-words.. How did their parents react to this, versus say, hard-rock, metal or punk?

Back then, I scarcely could have imagined that there would be rappers/groups that would have sustainable movements outside of having a relationship with an urban minority audience.. Which is clearly what Kreayshawn and her colleagues represent. Based on their age (what, early 20s at the most?), I guess they grew up in a post Tupac/Biggie-death era, where posthumous rap releases were the norm, political rap was mostly dormant, George W. Bush was the U.S. President in her teen years and ballers/hustlers were the dominant themes from most rappers to come up.

With the various indie/DIY performers out there, and the democratization of music production via the Internet/ProTools, etc., I'm well aware that not everybody is going to have a 'huge' audience in the way that we normally think of such things. Niche is the cool thing, now. I'd like to think, though that most of these performers have an awareness of the world outside of themselves, though. Insane Clown Posse, as reviled as they are in 'progressive' hip-hop circles, has at least enough sense to avoid co-opting the n-word as just another slang substitute for 'buddy' or whatever. Eminem was forced to come to terms with his casual outburst on that old demo of his that was leaked.

I have to admit, I'm still slightly thrown (though also amused) when walking in a park, shopping mall or wherever and overhearing conversations heavy in hip-hop slang delivered by valley girls and such. So far, though, no n-bombs.

I still think that America is in the early years of of an era of young, white children growing up being assimilated, to varying degrees, by the most contemporary trends in African-American culture via hip-hop. What will be the socio-political outlook of these young people when they grow up, get 'real-world' jobs, and are considered the middle-class stewards of their generation: physicians, attorneys, laborers, teachers, small-business owners, corporate-climbers, and, yes, public officials.

Hopefully they will grow out of latching onto the most egregious cliches of urban culture and will have matured into people with genuine empathy for the underclasses, urban and minority communities, and not holding the broader community of such folks in contempt despite their avowed love for the music, language and fashion. That would be a rebellion worth sustaining.


bopgoesbop said…
It is the business of youth to depend on what has come before, and then grow away from that to eventually become what is depended on, etc.. This natural dismissiveness is seen as rebellion, even by those with good memories of their own youth.

The DIY nature of rap may well be its most essential element, and 'garage rap' may well be exploding as 'garage rock' bands exploded in the 60s+ and even to today. The elders were outraged then, and they will be now.

While youth take what appeals to them on their own terms from the past, those on whom youth still depends are compelled to save their values from dismissal.

Youth does understand heroes and causes, and if values of the past are presented as such rather than imposition of 'respect',the chances of the values being carried on is improved, although the task is not made easier by understanding of the inevitability of this.

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