Lil Debbie at the Fine Line, 3/1/14
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Urban Dictionary defines ratchet as "a diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason so believe she is every man's eye candy. Unfortunately, she's wrong." In LL Cool J's song "Ratchet," he uses to word as a name for a gold digger. The internet is bursting with memes and photos of women in various forms of tasteless undress going about their daily lives -- for example, buying cigarettes and a 40 oz. at the convenience store in underwear and slippers.
It appears game-changing rapper Lil Debbie would prefer to take the word back and spin it into a compliment denoting ferocity and uniqueness, as she demonstrated this weekend at the Fine Line. Clad in a sweatsuit patterned by the Great Seal's Pyramid and Eye, Lil Debbie entered the building to confirm what Beyonce suggested last year by her infamous "ratchet" hoop earring Instagram photo: being ratchet isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Local rap trio Kids Like Us opened the evening with the slick rapping of Sam Wayne and Eli Fhima, and vocal prowess of singer Lizzie Fontaine. The crowd seemed eager to get turnt up as Wayne and Fhima jumped together across the stage, gesturing wildly while spitting rhymes. Fontaine surprised concertgoers by delivering a beautiful acapella rendition of Etta James' "At Last." Her voice is strong and soulful, and added a pleasant texture to their more hard hitting tracks as well.
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen
Turquoise Jeep took to the stage next. If you have the internet, then you've probably stumbled across this crew of singers, rappers, choreographers, video directors and producers before. Fronted primarily by Yung Humma and Flynt Flossy, they transcended from YouTube to the tangible world via their viral music video for "Lemme Smang It" back in 2010. The Jeep's choreographed bumping and grinding quickly had women screaming and spilling their drinks in excitement. "There's a lot of Jeep riders in Minnesota tonight!" they noted.
Turquoise Jeep's set was an assault of songs dripping with comical sexuality, such as "Fried or Fertilized," in which they asked "How you like your eggs? Fried or fertilized?" and "Treat Me Like a Pirate," featuring the refrain "Treat me like a pirate, and give me that booty." Stools were pulled onto the stage, and four lucky ladies were treated with Jeep-ridin' lap dances. Humma and Flossy had a seemingly endless cache of moves; their performance was extremely fun to watch and incomparable to other hip hop shows in recent memory. They own what they do and they do it well.
The crowd was restless in anticipation of Lil Debbie. Drunk girls crowded the area to the left of the stage, teetering in sky-high heels as they posed for selfies. Finally, the purple grape cake queen herself darted from the green room onto the stage, accompanied by a posse of serious-faced dudes. Everyone started pushing towards the stage, screaming. The place was about to get turnt up.
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen
Lil Debbie first invited a crew of "bad bitches" to dance behind her on stage, then blazed through "2 Cups" and into "Squirt," one of her tracks with RiFF RaFF. "It's meant to be nasty," she explained, removing her sweatshirt to reveal her 100-pound frame drowning in a giant white T-shirt, her face illuminated by giant gold hoop earrings. The sweet scent of marijuana smoke traveled through the air as she launched into "Michelle Obama" proclaiming, "That's my bitch! I love Michelle Obama!"
After rapping through a couple more of her internet hits, Lil Debbie announced that she would be performing two new songs that no one had heard before, from her upcoming California's Sweetheart album. She claimed that the songs were very different from most of her earlier work, but promised that they would still be ratchet.
The first song, "Pretty Motherfucker," delivered on this promise. The lyrics were full of boasts like "I'm movin' weight and I ain't talkin' fitness." Lil Debbie's rhymes on this track seemed more fluid and hard hitting than some of her earlier work, flowing easily forth to a slick beat. The song itself was a proclamation. The audience twerked as if it were their last twerk, and the "bad bitches" on stage appeared to be having the time of their lives. "Y'all give me life!" Lil Debbie shouted. "I am thirsty. You are the water."
"Slow Down" was the second new song, again full of slick-tongued rapping and those cutesy little threatening rhymes that Lil Debbie spits so proficiently: "Bad bitch, troublemaker. Watch me kill it. Undertaker." If the rest of California's Sweetheart is anything like these two tracks, Lil Debbie may have a serious hit on her hands. Both were a crystal-clear indication of her evolution as a female rapper and proof that she continues to stay ahead of the game musically.
During the hit "Bake A Cake," the energy in the room seemed to reach a semi-dangerous level -- it was difficult to move through the crowd without getting grinded on or witnessing some vaguely disturbing form of dance debauchery. Still, Lil Debbie kept instructing the audience to "turn up!" She ended the set by repeating two of her favorite songs, "Gotta Ball" and "Ratchets," explaining that she loved the songs so much that she was just going to do them again. Its hard not to be okay with anything Lil Debbie does, really. Things got even crazier the second time around.
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen
It seemed that most of the crowd had shown up mainly to see Lil Debbie. By the time Dirt Nasty came out, about half of the audience had already escaped into the night. "I got my DJ straight outta rehab!" he shouted. "He has a cocaine addiction." Then he invited a couple girls on stage, took a swig from a bottle of Jameson, and proceeded to intersperse songs with subjects like raping animals with strange, misogynistic comments to the girls onstage with him: "Life is beautiful when we got two girls sucking each other's dick."
The girls didn't seem to mind, though. They gyrated wildly on each other in abandon, occasionally lifting their shirts to flash the audience and sticking their tongues in each other's mouths. Some people were screaming in appreciation, others in horror. For "I Can't Dance," Dirt Nasty's song with LMFAO, he pulled an orange ski mask over his face and proceeded to prove that he actually can't dance, while the girls danced on him. His beats were catchy, maintaining the night's theme of turnt up rap/dance music. Moving into "Too Hot," he rapped "I'm on cocaine! Like it was 1980!" and rolled around the stage.
Was it funny? Dirt Nasty is a former comedian. However, his crude "jokes" seemed more like insults, and in his drunken state he was extremely confrontational. "My name's Dirt Nasty. I'm an alcoholic," he said in between songs. "I'm a fucking drug addict." Not sure how the DJ was feeling about all of this, considering his recent rehab stint. "Where's the underaged hoes at?" Dirt Nasty asked. "They're out there. God damn right. I'm drunk as a motherfuck." Interesting. Maybe there is a point where "good ratchet" becomes "bad ratchet" once again.
Critic's bias: I am pretty down for ignorant rap, inappropriate behavior, and pushing boundaries, but I am still trying to reconcile with Dirt Nasty's performance. On the other hand, Lil Debbie totally killed it, so I'm trying to stay focused on how much I love her as opposed to how gross Dirt Nasty made me feel. I didn't think it was funny but apparently his fans have a different sense of humor than I do.
The crowd: Same people I saw at the RiFF RaFF show last December.
Overheard in the crowd: Girl: "Lil Debbie is my lesbian crush. She is so fucking hot, dude." Her roommate: "She could be passed out drunk in her room and I could put on "2 Cups" and she would wake up and come out dancing."
"There's 8 Dirt Nasty's at the bar in Anoka right now looking for underaged girls."
Kids Like Us
Under the Cherry
I Do It
Bake A Cake
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