Kreayshawn represents fundamental shift in hip-hop music

Ali Breland

“Right now, the highest selling rapper in hip-hop is white. The most discussed up-and-coming rapper is white and female. The most important consumer of rap music is white,” said Phillip T. Annand in his online magazine The Madbury Club. 

In blunt terms, Annand, a connoisseur and purveyor of urban streetwear, hip-hop and everything else remotely cool, is speaking of the shift that has been and is occurring within hip-hop right now. Hip-hop is no longer limited to select social, economic, racial or even gender groups. It is truly an all-encompassing, generational entity. This is most aptly evinced by the white female Kreayshawn.

Natassia Zolot, a Bay Area rapper, producer and director, creates art under the pseudonym Kreayshawn, which fittingly was originally a play on the word “creation.” This summer, she released two singles, “Gucci Gucci,” whose video garnered almost 3 million views within three weeks of its release, and the lesser known “Rich Whores.” Both critique the materialistic excesses visibly present in Southern California and Los Angeles. She has plans for more videos and an album early next year and will be touring with Neon Indian. She’s currently the opening act on Ne-Yo’s tour.

Kreayshawn began her foray into music at the age of 5 with a feature on a Trashwomen record — one of the many bands her mother was in. Her mother’s presence in touring bands led to an interesting lifestyle in her adolescence. In an interview with Complex magazine, Kreayshawn talked about how she would be alone for weeks a time and how that resulted in her doing all sorts of different things most teenagers never see. Growing up in the culturally rich Bay Area, Kreayshawn was involved in things both intriguing and debauched.

“When I was 13 or 14, I would sneak out at night and go to raves,” Kreayshawn said in a phone interview. Rave music’s cultural successor, dubstep, would later influence the production of her song, “Gucci Gucci.”

“I used to go out all night and paint [graffiti],” she said. “That was my thing. I used to go to train yards and paint.”

She’s only taken up rap within the last year or so, but she’s managed to excel at it. Despite lacking technical proficiency, Kreayshawn has been able to make catchy and enjoyable music. Her new album aims to account for this disparity.

“Everything is going to be a lot more structured,” she said.

Despite all of her successes and achievements, or perhaps because of them, her legitimacy is being called into question. Rumors all around the music blogosophere accused her of not having written the lyrics to “Gucci Gucci.” Speak!, a friend of hers involved in the Bay Area music scene, was purported to have been the song’s true writer.

When Complex magazine asked Speak! if he had written the song, he facetiously replied, “I took her to the Gucci store here in L.A. and tricked off my entire ironic hipster trust fund in attempts to give her a taste of leisure life. My parents were devastated but allowed me to continue working at their multimillion-dollar snorkel factory in Saudi Arabia.” It was a resoundingly sarcastic “no.”

In the audiovisual side of her work, her planned collaboration with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their new video was scrapped. Her plan was for the video to follow a teenager through a complex narrative set in the ’90s underground advent of rave music. Curren$y and Soulja Boy have expressed interest in having her direct for them.

“[But] we’re always talking about doing a whole bunch of stuff. It’s just hard to find the right time [to collaborate with other artists],” she said.

In spite of her harsh upbringing and often angsty lyrical content, Kreayshawn expressed a sense of benevolence.

“I just want to tell everyone to recycle and stop the violence,” she said.

Printed on Thursday, October 20th, 2011, as: Kreayshawn embodies social change, success in hip-hop despite controversy