Photo by Andrew Penkalski
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Kreayshawn's Group Love Tour would like you to believe that there is still a counterculture alive within the white twentysomething homogenization of popular post-aught hip-hop. But there's a fundamental problem in this separatist attitude. Modern rebel femme hip-hop doesn't succeed on a platform of rebellion; it succeeds on inclusion.
Whereas Kreayshawn's Pacific-indebted debut, Somethin' 'Bout Kreay, strives for Nicki Minaj's stylistic eccentricities it fails to even approximate Minaj's positivity. And this is just speaking on a basic creative level. When we get into the ethical debate of Kreayshawn's Varsity Theater stop, shit gets a lot uglier.
The all-female lineup "took off" via Toronto tourmate Honey Cocaine. Behind a two-turntable setup that would be used through the entire lineup, Ms. Cocaine spat lines that would make Andrea Dworkin spin in her grave. My personal favorite was, "I love bad bitches, but the one thing I hate is pussy ass bitches."
All the more disheartening was the 16+ age policy at the door. When speaking on the countercultural aspect, the venue's half-capacity audience proved wholly passionate in regards to such vague generalizations. Ms. Cocaine took pictures with fans after her performance. That is if you were willing to pay 20 fucking dollars for a photo. But that's cool, because Ms. Cocaine's a rap star. As she even told us, "Obviously, I haven't always been a mother-fucking rap star, but I've always been a hustler."
Baltimore-native Rye Rye alleviated the lack of artistic progress by cutting a handful of rugs after Ms. Cocaine. Unlike her tourmates, Rye Rye spoke little and blasted the capacity off the Varsity's 89.3-friendly sound system. Looking like a Seattle Seahawks cheerleader in a neon-green/gray leggings, her Swede-house tracks only suffered from the PA's limited capacity to handle her Guetta-drenched standards. It's equally peculiar that her best moment of reception came through her "Never Will Be Mine" performance -- a track that hinges on its bleach-blonde Robyn sample. The crowd would never grow as fierce as it did at this moment.
So that leaves Kreayshawn's fifty minutes. The bay-area MC begged for applause throughout her set. More than once, she had to say, "Where are the real Kreayshawn fans at?" And from a more objective standpoint, she also lied to us. She said Kreayshawn was the name of a Pokemon -- a rare one at that. I can assure you as a man amongst much nerdier men that no such Pokemon has ever existed. But I'll let that slide. What I won't let slide is Kreayshawn's lack of self-awareness when it comes harming a culture from which she so heavily draws but still desires to act as a contributor. Seeing a room full of high-school girls shout "Bout to burn this motherfucker down like I'm Left Eye," is so disheartening.
Not to mention the fact that her "Gucci Gucci" closer came with the horribly derogatory use of the term, "Chickenhead." And look, this isn't a knock on white rap's tendency to draw from uglier portions of Americana. Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP is one of the best rap records ever made. An artist with homophobic verbosity is something that we have to wrangle against his ability to technically outshine both peers and forefathers. But that's something Kreayshawn doesn't, and probably won't ever, do. She shamelessly strives to even approximate her contemporaries. And her showing at the Varsity leads me to believe she'll never even come close to that desire.
Personal Bias: I was eager to see both Rye Rye as well as Kreayshawn's ability to tout her feminist radicalism. The latter wholly disappointed.
The Crowd: A lot of Party Xs on high school kids. For all the girls and guys there dressed to the nines, it's a shame to know that there's a very stupid subculture out there masquerading as something more substantial.
Random Notebook Dump: 8:32 p.m- First black attendant spotted.
8:35 p.m.- Nevermind, that was a security guard.
"Is that Mark Mallman?"