Although braggadocio and hyperbole are essentially the pillars of contemporary rap, for some people Kreayshawn takes them “too far.” The popular way of dealing with her is to dismiss her as the troubling product of rap’s irresponsible excesses. For the adherents of this narrative, after years of trivializing serious social realities, rap is finally being “punished” by the presence of a rapper who has not even the slightest claim to “authenticity.” For these people, Kreayshawn is like the bastard child of Rick Ross. This is a comforting and convenient narrative, but it just isn’t true. Both Kreayshawn’s story and Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay, Kreayshawn’s debut album, makes this wholly apparent.
The reality is that Kreayshawn, despite the alluring appearance of difference, is actually quite average. Her album begins with “Blasé Blasé,” a fitting title for the indifference she exudes throughout the album. The instrumental, which is slightly reminiscent of LL Cool J’s “Control Myself,” has much promise, but Kreayshawn’s static flow yawns over the beat, inducing instant lethargy. The lyrics are not awful, but even the chorus is not particularly memorable. She raps, “Can’t hear haters, blasé blasé,” but then she dedicates three verses to insulting these generic haters. Apparently she’s not as deaf as she thinks.
“Blasé Blasé” is a yawnfest, but the next song, “Ch00k Ch00k Tare,” livens things up. Nodding to her Russian roots with some lines in Russian, Kreayshawn teams up with fellow artist Chippy Nonstop and producer Free School to come up with a song that’s half early M.I.A. and half “???” The result is mellow, but fresh. Kreayshawn’s flow still lacks enthusiasm, but for this song, it doesn’t matter. Kreay Kreay’s breakout hit “Gucci Gucci” comes next, bringing some much-needed energy to the album. “Gucci Gucci” is probably where Kreayshawn is most memorable. Rapping about selling Adderall over a sample of her own lyrics, she effortlessly dismisses rap’s favorite luxury brands. There’s something subversive about that.
Sadly, “Gucci Gucci” is the highlight of the album. The following tracks have fantastic instrumentals (particularly “Left Ey3” and “Like or Love It”), but Kreayshawn’s indifferent flow starts to become literally tiresome. Her lyrics don’t really help either. “You trying to play me like a boss but you’re finna take a big loss” is something even Rick Ross couldn’t pull off without a grimace (or grin). “Breakfast” and “BFF” are some particularly insufferable tracks. On the former, 2 Chainz makes one of his least memorable guest appearances of the year. The chorus features food items – “I got that juice, cheese, bread, breakfast – yet neither artist sounds hungry. On “BFF” Kreayshawn use auto-tune in precisely the way Jay-Z despises.
Admittedly, not everything that follows “Gucci Gucci” is so bad. On “Twerkin’ ” Diplo kind of recycles some of the effects he used for M.I.A.’s “XR2,” but he and Kreayshawn definitely succeed in making a decent dance song. The only strange thing about the song is when Kreayshawn says “Twerkin!”; her tone is very ambiguous, almost sarcastic. Are strippers not her thing? Or is she ambivalent about them? Is she even being sarcastic? There’s no way to know, but it’s such a distinct line, kind of like the guy that says “Toasty!” in Mortal Kombat games. “The Ruler” is also not so bad. The song is all about gold and ends up being cheesy at times, but it’s cheesy in such an honest, fun way that all is forgiven. Flow-wise, she sounds like M.I.A. on this track, but delivery-wise, she sounds like she’s having so much fun. There’s a difference.
In the end, Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay proves that there’s kind of nothing about Kreay [musically, at least]. She has a good ear for beats and is definitely fun to listen to at times, but when it comes to rapping, she’s very unenthusiastic and kind of generic. One can rap without enthusiasm – Earl Sweatshirt does it all the time and Lupe Fiasco did it for “Bitch Bad” – but for Kreayshawn it doesn’t seem like an aesthetic choice; it just comes across as blasé, indifferent. Kreayshawn came into the game as a director and editor for music videos. She should probably get back to her roots.
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