I’m no expert, but I believe you should say why you like things.
Now, like I said, I don’t exactly know what I’m talking about here, but it makes sense to me for people to explain or at least describe why they like certain things. Otherwise, life becomes a neverending unPinteresting slideshow of flag planting and aesthetic curation. Life turns into the cultural apocalypse that Thorstein Veblen warned us about. And that’s that shit I don’t like.
You don’t need to tell me about stupid-easy Note-baiting and the memeification of ‘life’. Because I’m on it, and it’s fun to do. But at some point, well at any point, it’s nice for someone to tap the brakes.
For example, I know that a lot of people like Lil B but I also know that a lot of people like saying things like “Lil B fucked your ho” and “SWAG!!” a lot. So it’s nice when someone crosses over and talks earnestly about why they like someone like Lil B.
Otherwise, life seems to become, well, see above. Swag! Like! Swag! Swag! Like! Like! Reblog!
And then come the people who point out (rightly) that that method of living and talking about things makes no sense. But they do it (generalizing here) in a really annoying and facile way. I don’t get why anyone likes Lil B he’s retarded. Well, ok. I get it. Lil B is overrated he sucks and he’s gay.
It makes sense for the level of critique to rise exactly as high as the level of ‘hype’ supporting an art object. That should be some sort of Law of the Internet or something. (I call that, btw: B Michael’s First Law Of The Internet.)
That’s why there are entire departments devoted to Shakespeare — even if you don’t like him or think he didn’t exist or think he was an unhappy accident of colonialism and cultural mercenariness — there are at least a lot of smart people talking about why he’s great and why he’s problematic. That’s also why a show like Girls got memefied (see above) but it also created a spirited debate about sex, race, class, aesthetics — the whole thing. Lots of smart people took up the pro and the con side, and the result was a lot of awesome writing and thinking. That’s why people don’t really care about your How I Met Your Mother recap. (Just kidding, I’m sure HIMYM recaps get 111K pageviews.)
Anyway — and now you may be upset — this is just prologue or table setting for my main point, which is that I really like what Kitty Pryde is doing on “Justin Bieber” and “Okay Cupid”, and I’m going to say specifically why because simple cries of “AWESOME!” or “SHE SUCKS SPEND YOUR TIME ON SOMETHING BETTER” simply should not be addressed or countenanced.
They’re not only worthless comments, but they actually have a negative value. Well, or, they’re bad in a way that seems economic to me, a non-economist.
I guess at first I listened to “Okay Cupid” a lot because of Beautiful Lou’s production. If you don’t know, he produced two tracks on A$AP Rocky’s album, did that cool “Illusions of Grandeur” remix for Lil B, and works with Green Ova Main Attrak and Western Tink. You know, typical post-MBDTF cloud rap shit. So yeah, I was interested last month when I saw one of my cloud rap bros post the song. Plus it’s weird because, duh, young-sounding white girl making her way into this exotic and dangerous world. Definitely meme-worthy link-bait stuff.
But the thing is and here it is I’ll tell you: her shit’s really good. Like, it seems really profoundly interesting at least, to me, because she’s not a really good rapper. She is not (as I saw someone last night on my dash say some combination of Dave Berman and Lorrie Moore (COME ON SLOW YOUR ROLL)) but why would she be? She’s like in high school.
The thing I like Kitty Pryde’s two songs are that they sort of seem like they’re really intimate pictures of girls (#girls) in a way that’s sort of totally (as much as it could be) unencumbered by the male gaze (as far as I understand the concept, which is not that far).
After reading a lot of Tao, MuuMuu House, Thought Catalog, HTML Giant, etc., etc., I just, well, I am not apologizing for enjoying the affectless sincerity thing that everyone else seems to mistake for irony. And this Kitty Pryde stuff is like the real soundtrack for all that.
“Okay Cupid” is a little more hook-y and problematic probably because it’s obviously a love song and we all know that love is dead and sucks and stuff. But it’s also like, yeah, it’s like life. Drunk dials and snorting adderall and this newfound youngperson obsession with marriage. And the “Get out of my room” bit. I’ve never had a little sister but a lot of my friends did when I was a kid and that’s just how they all sounded. Kitty Pryde is like the little sister I never had.
I like how it’s a love song, but it doesn’t seem totally subsumed to the market or sexual economy or anything else that makes most love songs seem either like sepia portraits of some times that never existed or commercials to make you buy (improbably) Doritos-flavored lube or something.
“Okay Cupid” also has, if you think about it, a perfect title.
“Justin Bieber” is just a powerhouse of an amazing song, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.
I mentioned this earlier, but the thing I really like about the song is that it flips the idea of older men wanting to straightfuck young girls. Except that Justin Bieber is older than Kitty Pryde, I think. But I suppose that just makes it more interesting and weird. Because the song is premised on the Iconic aspect of idols and not on their physical quiddity. It’s like, as the song says, cute boys are fungible.
Boys are like milk, they expire if you’re late on em
And it’s legal for me, man I don’t even have to wait on em
Catch me at the middle school, chattin up skateboarders
I hoard high school sophomores that want whores
And listen to hardcore, drive em to the show
And if I lose em in the pit then fuck it, let’s just go
Cover my ears every time the stupid beat drops
I’m thirteen, what is lean? what is dream pop
Scared in the backseat when they need to make a weed stop
And if they catch me i’ll just cry for all the mean cops
I like em sixteen with bleached hair and supreme tops
And the dirty ass vans on their feet flop on over
There’s something funny about someone saying, “What is lean? What is dream pop?” The dual questions also sort of support this idea I had that Kreayshawn represented the future of hip-hop. I know that sounds nuts, but it’s just that people like Kitty Pryde and Kreayshawn appeal to me precisely because they pick and choose from points and sounds today, and they’re not, yes, steeped in tradition. But neither am I, and a slavish adherence to traditional mastery is going to shrink, not grow, your audience. So I can see on the one hand why traditional mastery rap folks really dislike Kreay and Kitty — for good reasons and bad reasons — but those same reasons are sometimes the exact reasons why I like them. Picking and choosing, getting the best, coolest-sounding things, using them for fun and profit. It’s good.
There’s more. I like the playing with personal identity, because that’s honestly the only protection in the world a teenaged girl seems to have. Is hiding and lying about herself. I like how the playing with personal identity hasn’t extinguished her ability to want and to create. I like the way her voice crackles when she says, “If I lose em in the pit then fuck it let’s just go”.
So yes: “Justin Bieber” takes the “Okay Cupid” theme and brings it to its essence: creating a safe space for young girls to have love. On her own terms, in ways that please her, and that seems just so weird to me. It’s weird to hear a young person sound happy and loving in ways that don’t compromise what you’d think of as “her own good”.
I added “Okay Cupid” and “Justin Bieber” on April 13, and I’ve listened to the two songs 74 times combined since then. There’s not another artist I’ve listened to more in such a concentrated way. That says something about the depth of Kitty Pryde’s catalog (not very, at all) but it also says something about how great and re-listenable these two songs are.
When someone talks about “rap” or “music” or “good”, well, I feel like Plato was actually totally wrong, had it totally backward. In his paean to young boy love (The Symposium), he says how Socrates says how Diotima says how love is loving one thing, then loving a predicate it has thus applying that love to more things, and then finally reaching an idea of LOVE in general, universal, as a transcendent thing. I actually think it’s the reverse. I say “I love this song because it’s good”, and you might (probably) hear, “He loves this song because it’s good but it doesn’t sound like this other thing so he’s wrong”. Or you could snipe at Beautiful Lou for producing a song for a shitty rapper, but I don’t know what rap is supposed to be or sound like. It’s everything? It’s not anything? It’s a set of social and economic circumstances? It’s a region? It’s a decade? It’s like Camu Tao and Cam, too? I don’t know what you mean by rap! So you should tell me.
It’s sort of (definitely) a me-problem because I only merely skimmed that Caramanica piece and I did YouTube a couple (terrible) Northern State songs and I don’t care that much what Kreayshawn is doing and that it’s unfair that some people get attention while others don’t. If you were to ask me if I think good things should get more attention than bad ones, then I would tell you YES. I think a lot of editors and webmasters probably feel the same way and they also feel like they want to have jobs so they just arbitrarily throw up links and two-line ‘pieces’ about whatever seems to be popular on Tumblr at the moment, which is how Lana Del Ray etc.
So we have an aporia. I mean, do you really think people running Stereogum or the New York Times hate you that much that they’ve cleverly engineered their content so it just pisses you off? I don’t think they have that demographic information, and if they did they’d use it for good (read: profit$$$) and not evil (read: you griping about them all the time). They’re trying, I think.
This is my promise to you: to try. When I like something and I feel like I can spend the time on it, I will tell you why. This is actually a promise I’ve already made to you. I think this is one of the points Emily Gould made last week: simply sharing stuff, giving it a little heart or thumbs up, etc. doesn’t support it. And I would go further! It’s actually kind of bad. The Like economy suffers inflation at a terrifyingly fast pace. So if a bunch of people Like something without supporting it (ahem I gave Kitty Pryde $5 last month, which was apparently 20% of her revenue to date according to VICE) then you’re just going to make that thing fail. Because everyone else is going to get sick of hearing about it, and the artist in question won’t have gotten anything for the process of utterly exhausting the good faith and patience of their audience.
So do that instead: buy the thing, or at least contribute meaningfully to the Like economy. Otherwise, it seems like maybe the thing you like will go away.