“One big room / Full of bad bitches”

by Nav

If your reaction to the above song – Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” – is anything like mine, you’ll hate it on the first listen, then not be able to get it out of your head and will then proceed to listen to it over and over and over again. What? Totally normal behaviour and not weird at all.

‘Course, the question is this: what is it doing here? I’m not sure. Something about it intrigues me. Perhaps because it’s so alien. Or perhaps because it’s not alien enough.

But! Let’s discuss!

Register the Register/ But Inflect that Dialect

You know what’s weird? The way Kreayshawn’s register both does and does not ‘match up’ with her inflection/accent. By this I mean that the stereotypical generalizations one walks into the song with don’t quite fit. While rhyming, moments of ‘West coast valley girl’ pop up, while at others they seem to disappear entirely behind… hm, what to call it? I guess “the hip-hop inflected accent that people say isn’t about race but totally is in how it signifies, especially in terms of its layered, ambivalent, now-it-has-cultural currency-and-now-it-doesn’t-ness”? Yeah, that.

Let’s talk about bitches, bitches.

This song and its refrain of “1 big room / Full of bad bitches” seems to be the best argument – or maybe just the most recent one – for the feminist reclamation of the word “bitch”. Discuss.

More to the point, “I’m full of swag and it’s pumping out my ovaries” seems as phallogocentrically feminist as it’s gonna get, doesn’t it?

“Why you lookin’ bitter? / I be looking better”

There is a tiny, infinitesimally small part of me that wants to be an 18 year old girl so I too can adopt the weird Parkdale-Williamsburg-Oakland style exhibited by Kreayshawn’s hype girl – who I assume is her DJ/producer? I could probably look things like that that up, but it’s all waaay better as a mystery.

Cultural Appropriation

*sirens* WHITE GIRL RAPPIN’ WOO WOO *sirens*

Hm, this one is messy. To me, the thing about cultural appropriation is not the ownership of culture, but is more about how the circulation of images/ideas can either reaffirm the links between racial identity and assumptions of potential or challenge them. Another important aspect is privilege. To be able to take on or take off markers of cultural identity – but not be able to do the same with skin colour – causes all sortsa problems.

I don’t really care about issues of “stealing” culture. But the necklace of a “Native American head”, a la the Cleveland Indians logo? That throws things off. It’s one thing to repurpose a sign when its multiple valences have been altered by history. It’s quite another to do so when social and systemic prejudice against Aboriginal Americans remains unforgivably high. So, yeah, fuck that noise.

At the end of the day, though: I guess the thing with cultural appropriation is this: there is no neutral music, and there is no neutral language. So the only responsible thing to do is to address the politics that the ‘disparity’ between identity and aesthetic production that the act of the utterance itself produces.

When Das Racist rhyme about the litany of artists who have sung in “Fake Patois“, they do so in their own fake faux-Jamaican/Caribbean patois. But they also talk about a lost bit of Jamaican history: Shaun X. Bridgmohan who is “the first Jamaican in Kentucky Derby”. So, deliberate or not, the song leaves you in a perfectly appropriate suspension between the impossibility of authenticity but the significance of the discourse of authenticity.

Yeah, Kreayshawn doesn’t do that.

The female gaze

The song seems to ricochet back and forth between two ideas: one if that ‘we are so full of swag, we don’t need your items of conspicuous consumption’ – the insanely catchy “Gucci Gucci Louis Louis Fendi Fendi Prada/ Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even botha’” – to explicitly invoking the culture of surveillance and performance of teenage girls: “Bitch you ain’t no Barbie / I hear you work at Arby’s”.

That contradiction, however, is perfectly captured by Kreayshawn’s, um, meditation on the legitimacy of Kat Stacks, in which she seems to speak in contradictions. I didn’t understand it at all, but that’s why it’s perfect.

Again, I’m assuming Kat Stacks is a person who exists, but this is all much better when it remains enigmatic and full of possibility

Conclusion

Was this my usual attempt at recuperative analysis, a la Transformers 2? Or self-satire? Or am I just inappropriately obsessed with a song not at all aimed at me?

Yeah. It’s definitely one of those.

More to the point, isn’t this what should have happened years ago? When the signifier just detached of its own accord and started floating around, full of so much swag it removed itself from history?

Edit: Oh! I forgot a link to this: “On Kreayshawn and the Utility of Black Women“, which not only starts with a Zora Neale Hurston quote (!), but also has this line – “It’s like tumblr made a video,” said one tumblrite, speaking of the white Cali hipster aesthetics of Kreyashawn’s Gucci Gucci – which is the most perfect encapsulation ever. Seriously, look at the visual style of the chorus section – it’s a Facebook photo album, right?