TMC Interview: rapper, cyber-brat and occasional lesbian Kreayshawn talks music and her girl crushes
In April, Kreayshawn put a rap song about fashion on the internet and it got her 17 million views on Youtube and a $1million record deal. Gucci Gucci is about how you don’t need labels to look like a bad bitch, and features Kreayshawn and her friends tooling round LA , smoking joints and insulting people. Lots of people find it really annoying.
Though the skinny little white female rapper schtick pisses off a lot of people on Youtube, when I meet her lying on a sofa in a conference room in West London, I find it really endearing.
I suppose I am a bit of a sucker: 21 year old Nastassia Zolot is tiny and sort of reminds me of Amy Winehouse – with the tattoos, the waved-up hair, big swooshes of eyeliner and skinny little arms. It makes me feel very maternal. I repress that. She’s obviously doing fine.
Kreayshawn looks especially tiny compared to her 6ft+ black manager Sketch, sitting in the corner. When Kreayshawn started a fight with rapper Rick Ross at the MTV Video Music Awards last month she stood behind Sketch while he tried to defuse the fallout from the fact she had just called the hip-hop grand-master fat in front of his entourage. The incident sums up a lot of what people find irritating about Kreayshawn. Attitude, brattiness, being a small white girl in black man’s game.
The controversy extends to her music. Hipsters find it too hipster, hip-hop fans find it too white, many people just find it too annoying, and my friend Georgie says “it’s shit”. A commenter on hip-hop blog Fader described it as “HIPSTERY BLIPSTER ASS RAP … TRENDY TREND MEME MEME CRAP”.
Wikipedia lists Rebecca Black (singer of ‘Friday’) as a related topic on Kreayshawn’s page. But I guess that’s why I like it so much.
It’s hyper rap for the internet generation with our short attention spans. It scoops up lots of dirty, scuzzy sounds: the tinny reverb of bad speakers and fuzz on mobile phones – “a grimmy sound” writes another internet commenter (also on Fader, my new favourite blog) – and spins it all into catchy, euphoric chilled-out spacer rap. I think that has something to offer our generation.
“Gnarly, radical, on the block I’m radical”
And we can’t afford Gucci anyway! Cause of the recession! Yeah!
Kreayshawn is no soulful diva – she’s proper geek with a knack for controversy and new media: a wired-in cyber-brat who was taught how to programme computers by her grand-dad and just naturally seems to know how to wind up senior figures in the hip-hop establishment. She has been playing around with cameras and video-editing software since she was ten – and her music is video music – it’s best watched and listened to. Frames jump to the cut beats and the visuals play to the music “see the chickens over there? They can’t ever leave the coop” she says gesturing to some shop-front mannequins. It’s tight, stylish and looks really new.
Kreayshawn’s not just a singer – in fact, she’s not actually a very good singer – but she is the “editor-director” like she says in Gucci “plus I’m my own boss” dropping out of the prestigious Berkley Film School a couple of years ago. She told us that her favourite part of the whole song-music-video process was editing the video. Pretty 21st century huh.
The other reason I like Kreayshawn – she’s a gay. Well – not officially – but she’s a woman who sleeps with other women, fancies them and writes songs about making out with them. Call that what you will.
I’ve got a thing about queer hip-hop and gender transgression. She does it. Nicki Minaj (– one of Kreyshawn’s idols and another is-she-isn’t-she female rapper who sings about sleeping with women) does it; Kreayshawn’s friend Lil’B (just released an album called ‘I’m Gay‘) does it too. (Though uh, he’s not gay. It’s ironic. No I don’t get it either.) You get traces of it in Kanye and Drake – when they parody the guns-and-fucking cliches of commercial hip-hop. Kanye by being so extravagant that’s it’s pretty much camp; Drake by having lots of feelings.
That’s why I think it is not just fine but great that Kreayshawn is rapping out lesbian lust and tales about getting high on Facebook. Apparently all the girls at the Shoreditch gig Kreayshawn played screamed hardest at the bit where she sings “I got the swag and it’s pumping out my ovaries”. I scream at that bit too.
Hip-hop has a proud history, but as protest music why should it just be for angry young black men? Gays have a civil rights movement too. So do women. If it’s about subversion of the status quo and injustice – there’s plenty of material for both those groups to rap about. But civil rights aside, as Lil’B figures it anyway- queering up is the quickest way now to push Middle America’s panic buttons. And hip-hop has always enjoyed doing that. For that reason if none other – hip-hop has become a surprising new front in queer expression.
And then the songs are so damn catchy.
Kreayshawn the geek
TMC: So you first got into music by shooting music videos? You were a film-maker first?
Kreayshawn: I mean, yeah I’ve always been making music. I made my first song when I was five years old with my mum.
And then when I was 10 years old she started dating a DJ and he brought all his recording equipment and DJ set and everything, and I was a pretty smart kid with a computer so they let me and my friend go on the computer and we would just record song after song all night, making music. At the same time when I was ten he also gave me a camera so everything just started at the same exact time. And you know they really go together…
Do you feel like you’re doing the same thing making a song and shooting a video?
A million things do go hand in hand because when you’re making a song and writing lyrics you’re thinking of a visual – you’re thinking of stuff that people can picture in their heads.
Because when you listen to music, you’re picturing what this person is saying, you’re not just listening to it. And when you’re editing video, you’re listening to the music to cut onto beat to create that visual.
Do you find yourself more comfortable behind the camera, or in front of it? Guess you’ve done quite a lot of both..
Ummm I definitely love being in front of the camera, I’m one of those people that’s like “put me on Youtube, yeah yeah – I wanna be on camera, I’ve got something to say”. So I’m very comfortable with both of them.
I definitely love editing video though, that’s like my favourite part of the process. That’s when you work closely with the music and the cutting and stuff like that.
Kreayshawn and gay stuff
She checks out her friend little Debbie at start of the Gucci Gucci video, in Bumpin Bumpin, the video centres round a beautiful girl in a club
“The girl want me she constantly taunt me
And in my club dreams, she always used to haunt me”
And in Online Fantasy, Kreayshawn is flicking through photos of another hot girl on Facebook in a hazy dream lit by an iMac that ends with them making out in the computer room. AfterEllen reports that Kreayshawn said she was an “occasional lesbian, but not a raging one”.
TMC: We’re a gay website, you say you fancy women but you don’t define as lesbian or bi or anything.. do you fancy women?
Kreayshawn: I’m just the type of person who doesn’t look at a colour or race or gender or anything like that – for love. If you love me… that’s it. Women are hot, guys are hot. We’re all hot, shit, it’s a free world man.
Fair enough. Me and my friends were looking at the Bumpin Bumpin video last night. If you were to go for a hot girl, would it be a girl like the girl in the video – long dark hair…?
[silence – Kreayshawn sits up and grins and nods]
Any celebrities you think are hot? Male or female?
Selena Gomez is pretty hot. Nicki Minaj is hot, Katy Perry is pretty hot. I mean of course all the celebrities hot because they’re supposed to be hot.
Have you met Nicki Minaj?
I got to say hi to her, at the VMAs. She was walking past me and I said “Hey Nicki!” and she turned round and she said “hey babe!”
So that was it, but it made my night.
What about Drake and that Young Money Crew?
Yeah Drake, I’ve met Drake. He’s definitely a cool-ass guy, I love that guy.
And Justin Bieber, he said “what’s up” to me. He said “Kreayshawn, I love your music” and he shook my hand, and I was like “ooo Biebs!”.
Oh my gad!
Yeah – Justin Bieber listens to Gucci Gucci. [laughs]
Baby Kreay and Kreayshawn being sort of sweet
Nastassia wasn’t exactly going to tell me about her girlfriend or LBGT representation politics, but suddenly opened right up when I asked about to explain about her tattoos and what she had…
“There’s just a lot of cartoony stuff, a lot of food – ice cream and you know – just a lot of young childish tattoos and you know my childhood was robbed from me so I kind of make up for it by being obsessed by cartoons and bright colours and Hello Kitty and being a little shit…
And like ‘Baby Kreay’ – sometimes I’m Baby Kreay and I like me to drink my milk and I whine and I kick my feet around and then sometimes I’m Momma Kreay and that means I’m either yelling at someone or you know, being a bitch, but – it’s all good. Momma Kreay or Baby Kreay.
You have an ice-cream?
I have an ice-cream right here on my neck. [lifts her hair back and points it out]. That was my first tattoo.
Aw sweet. And what’s that on your hand?
This is like an old school phone. I’m the only person that has that tattoo I swear to god, only person.
It’s very original.
I think she’s being ironic again. When I probe a little further she just keeps her mouth shut and shakes her head. And she’s back to being baffling.
Kreayshawn’s album will be out next year