“One big room / Full of bad bitches”

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?

7 thoughts on ““One big room / Full of bad bitches”

  1. I think there is a queer reading here as well in both the visual aesthetics and the lyrics. setting up basic bitches against bad bitches is, sure, the age old squares against freaks set up. but it is also straight vs queer; and as you note repeatedly above, there is a lot of queering going on to upset and defamiliarize circulating tropes of race, gender, and privilege.

    why does the sidekick have to be her producer?? She picks her up on the street like ‘hey, you look wicked, lets hang out and smoke pot and be bad bitches.’ Don’t traditional videos figure a sexualized woman or two? Is this bitch with her feather earring and too cool for school attitude not incredibly attracting despite being fully clothed? She does keep showing us her breast–or is she underlining the smoke chronic T? visually, she mimics kreayshawn, a double but different, playing on the potential of same sex appeal. girls might live in a “culture of surveillance and performance,” but that isn’t to the obliteration of a culture of admiration and desire. to straighten the bent line though, maybe part of your engagement slides into a fantasizing male gaze when confronted with this queering of female and bitchingly feminine friendship. who ARE those lucky dudes who get to hang out with them?

  2. A) I had no idea you read my blog.
    B) Yeah, that’s pretty damn smart. And, um, ouch. I totally did do the male gaze thing, didn’t I?

    I saw the initial meeting as almost confrontational or a sizing up, but I like your take better: it’s the ‘sizing up’ of desire.

    Weird friend/object-of-desire/producer is crazy attractive, but I’m probably too old to be thinking that.

    But though I shamefacedly cop to getting all male gazey up in this bi– um, clip – I also think there’s something about racial privilege simmering on the edges of my unseemly fascination with this video. Not that autonomy is strictly about race – but the ‘I can do whatever I want, fuck society’ thing has, in my life, always been tinged with race in some way, particularly in the way it intersects with desire. I’ve always been a bit intrigued – and, sure, jealous – of the capacity to be desired by others. Perhaps it’s this video’s gynocentric expression of that capacity – in which there is neither a male object of desire, nor a proxy (not even, perhaps, in the camera) – that drew me to it. Weird.

    P.S. You’re unfailingly great.

  3. Since Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Prada are among the most “copied” brands out there, much to the chagrin of those who can afford “originals,” I can’t help but think about how the performance of class operates in all of this. (I’ll let you know if I come up with anything, but, after watching the video a few times, it’s unlikely.)

  4. The “‘Native American head’ a la the Cleveland Indians logo” is actually a Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) logo. So now the issue is, why does she have a Chicago team’s logo when she’s repping Oakland? Very controversial!

  5. these are street kids, sort of. at least v-nasty seems to be. (the girl kreayshawn wants to “free” in one of her lyrics.) they’re obviously lesbians, or in the vernacular “le’zbe friends.” i’m obsessed too. when i heard the song on the radio i thought, oh, cool, we don’t need gucci either. then i saw the video and i was like, wtf? so i did a little youtube investigating and it appears that v-nasty is the real deal, but she’s in a lot of trouble for using the n-word. and by “real deal” i mean a really messed up, mostly white chick from oakland who spends all her time on the street. kreayshawn is an art school drop out who did a lot of filming of v-nasty in her element, but has thrown her under the bus for v’s excessive use of the n-word. v-nasty is pretty talented and has the ability to convince straight girls to le’zbe friends. but i’m still like, where were these bitches when i was on the street? because i love them.

  6. Don’t be hatin on Kreayshawn if you don’t know her. You don’t talk shit about people you don’t know. Take time to write about something important, not just spread that negative bull shit.

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