From Madonna to Public Enemy to Lady Gaga, some artists are just experts at catching audiences’ attention. This can be done by presenting taboo issues, or perhaps by combing fire and a crucifix in a music video. However, it’s less common in contemporary pop culture to be controversial due to something out of your control. For example, your skin color and background, which happens to be the case for Oakland chick rapper Kreayshawn.
If you haven’t heard the song “Gucci Gucci” or the name Kreayshawn, you may be a little out-of-date. In the music video she wields the swagger of a black female rapper à la Nicki Minaj or Lil’ Kim who doesn’t care what anyone thinks and has as much self-satisfaction as Lil’ B or Lil’ Wayne. And if you closed your eyes, you might think she was black. Instead, Kreayshawn is a petite, tattooed, 21-year-old white girl who has the ironic fashion of a modern day “hipster,” but the strong opinion of a pissed off black woman.
While half of Kreayshawn’s YouTube audience is busy creating a viral monster by sharing her video on tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, the other half takes offense to her presence and leave comments like, “Hip Hop is dead.” Almost every blog about Kreayshawn has a list of comments that make up the great debate of 2011. Irate bloggers claim that she is mocking Black culture and has no right to be filling the niche that a black artist should fill. They ask the heavens and Oprah what this world has come to. On the other hand, the calmer bloggers say that hip-hop belongs to nobody, and anyone who wants to rap has the right to do so. Like it or not, the haters and the philosophers are creating this artist. Kreayshawn’s surging popularity is almost definitely due to the controversy she has stimulated, and as history has proven, controversy equals fame.
On May 16, 2011, “Gucci Gucci” was uploaded to Kreayshawn’s personal YouTube account. In a matter of weeks, the video had over three million views. Of course, along with these views there were those comments by the haters and streams of arguments. The majority of viewers “Liked” the video, but there was still a signficant handful of “Dislikes.”
On the evening of June 25 the video was surprisingly removed by YouTube due to a Terms of Service violation. Kreayshawn was quick to comment on the removal by tweeting, “Why is Gucci Gucci deleted off my YouTube account?!?!? Wtf?!?” The tweets continued, followed by the impromptu hashtag, “#FREEGUCCIGUCCI.” Rumors spread that the video was removed because so many users flagged the video, offended by none other than her white racial identity. This may not be true, however, as flagging a video doesn’t precipitate its removal, but rather initiates a censor requiring viewers be 18 years or older to watch. The video was restored to YouTube on June 27 with the view counts and comments (and heated debates) intact.
Although this bickering is what Antoine Dodson might call “really dumb, forreal,” some good points have been discussed. The best argument I have seen pointed out that a black female doing what Kreayshawn is doing would be labeled as “ghetto”; since she is white, however, it is seen as cute and pleasing to the eye. As I myself am guilty of this mindset, it seems this argument is legitimate. However, the truth is that this mindset is inappropriate. It should not matter how the artist looks or acts. I don’t mean to sound like a Lady Gaga song, but regardless of race, religion, or background, anyone could make any music they want, and they should be judged by the art they create, not judged because of their God-given appearance.
Those who say that Kreayshawn is ruining Black Culture and hip-hop music are terribly mistaken. They’ve obviously forgotten the history of Latinos in hip-hop (e.g. Fat Joe, Pitbull, Immortal Technique) and choose to ignore the likes of Eminem and Atmosphere. What we should remember is that Kreayshawn is a remarkable musician, director and editor. Oh, and she just signed a million dollar record deal with Columbia Records. Bicker on that, haters.
Do you think Kreayshawn is worth all this hype? Will whites in hip-hop always stir controversy?