Kreayshawn and her White Girl Mob are more a like high school clique than organised criminals, a sort-of rap crew Heathers. On a Ustream channel of their very own, they frequently broadcast their hangout sessions live to the web, badmouthing other rappers like poor big ol’ Rick Ross whom seems to be a repeated target of their disses. Tally up their Twitter followers and YouTube views and there is a quite likely more than few thousand adoring wannabes staring longingly at Kreay’s brat pack.
Somethin 'Bout Kreay, Kreayshawn's major label debut, is very much a record with her vast network of girl mob affiliates in mind. Almost every song is either addressed to women or about female relationships. In the words of the Based Goddess on the album's opener: "them dudes lame". For example, 'Summertime' is about a seasonal fling between two girls with its obsessive chorus of "your bitch is on mind, your bitch is all mine". 'BFF' opens with the corny line "You wanna be my best friend?" Rather innocent compared to the ghetto house number, 'Twerkin'', in which Kreayshawn sleazily solicits a lap dancer. Some of this girl bonding, especially the latter, teeters on the bi-curious (or perhaps bi-confused) although not quite as exploitative as Katy Perry's faux-lesbianism. Even at her most macho on 'Left Ey3', a burn-down-your-house, castration-threatening revenge rap, female icons from Amy Winehouse to Courtney Love are name-dropped in jesting but affectionate terms.
Kreayshawn fools around with gender in a manner that is flippant, brattish and without much critical intent. This is a pity because she can write some fantastic proto-feminist lines such as 'Gucci Gucci's brag that "I got the swag and it's pumping out my ovaries". Her hit single was originally released back in 2011 at a time when male artists from Tyler the Creator to P. Diddy were squabbling for credit over the term 'swag'. Alleging that it's nothing more than oestrogen is still an ingenious rebuttal. It'd be wrong though to suggest that the album is all about female empowerment, thought, as Kreay is just as willing to dish out schoolyard taunts to rivals and bitch about employees at the mall.
As the vaguely biographical album title suggests, there isn't much of a concept to Somethin 'Bout Kreay. This obvious shortcoming isn't helped by the characterless production: a mix of various bastardised dance sub-genres. One of the few styles that works is Kreay's native hip hop variant, hyphy, a sort-of West Coast crunk that is an abbreviation of 'hyperactive'. An example of this hallmark East Oakland sound is 'Breakfast (Syrup)'s pounding hollow bass and sharp snares or the faster-paced 'Blasé Blasé's arpeggiated blips and handclaps backed by snappily on-form vocals. Kreayshawn is at once more lyrically adept and a far more original prospect when working within her local Bay Area scene.
There is something quite unexpected about the playful and gendered manner in which Somethin 'Bout Kreay messes around with hip hop conventions: from the fierce revenge administered by a woman cuckolded to a summer friendship with sapphic undertones. But it is the preponderance of bland dance tracks (the inane 'Go Hard (La.La.La)', 'Twerkin’' and the abysmal 'luV haus' et al) lacking the wit of her previous singles, which consign this debut to a failure.
5Adam Bychawski's Score