QUEER ISSUE: Oakland rap phenom Kreayshawn reps a casual Bay sexuality
QUEER "I don't like titles. I'm an open-minded person. I'm not going to shoot anybody down based on gender or color," Kreayshawn told me over the phone. "I've dated girls. I've dated guys. And I've felt the same way for both."
It's only been about a month since the 21-year-old East Oakland native's "Gucci Gucci" video blew-up, gaining both props and criticism for her label-bashing, be-yourself approach — designer-addicted "basic bitches" are her favorite target, and everyone from college-campus Adderall addicts to crass Barbie wannabes gets a dig. She's generated a lot of hype and the immediate backlash has been harsh, but Kreayshawn's rambunctious persona has kept things fresh. She's an adorable little stoner with mad style, a naughty mouth, and a cartoonish sexual vibe. Her "White Girl Mob" is a swagged-out version of the Spice Girls and her collection of work (including a hilariously over-the-top, girl-on-girl makeout session in the video for "Online Fantasy") immediately gave the press a reason to cry "lez."
That's usually the story when a woman steps up in the rap game, though — in a genre marked by macho preening and degrading insults, most women in hip-hop usually play the boys' game and highlight their masculine side or market a hypersexed sluttiness, both of which can easily play into stereotypes of lesbianism. (Recently, rap — and pop — women have found one escape hatch: straight-up out-of-body weirdness, à la early Nicki Minaj.)
For actual gay or bi ladies who want a piece of big-time rap's pie, the odds so far have been stacked against them — out lesbian rappers like super-talented Yo Majesty only seem to get so far, although there is, at least, a still-flickering homo-hop circuit that promotes queer talent. Major label artists are pressured to stay in the closet, despite all the rumors and paparazzi shots of "companions." This last approach can be psychologically disastrous, as I found out one night in Minneapolis when a devastated and drunk Lady Sovereign, who had repeatedly rejected the lesbian label at her management's request, crashed on my futon after her ex-girlfriend refused to let her stay over. Sov finally came out last summer. You could tell that her bottled-up feelings had taken their toll, however.
But hey, it's 2011 and it's nice to think the rap game has matured along with the rest of pop culture. Ellen is wifed up. Lohan dated Ronson. Lambert should've won American Idol. Everybody seems "Born This Way." As celebrity homos become more visible, the "openly gay" tag seems old-fashioned. But that doesn't mean we still aren't curious — and if you don't tell, people will keep asking.
Yet while Kreayshawn hasn't denied being a lady-lover, questions regarding her sexuality have garnered a wash of fuzzy responses, only fueling curiosity and more sound-bites. My personal favorite was her quote in Complex Magazine, in which she stated she isn't a "raging lesbian" but an "occasional lesbian." Should I be insulted? This needed some clarification.
"I say occasional because I go with the flow," Kreayshawn told me over the phone, while relaxing on what she considers a "chill day:" hours of interviews and business related to her recent $1 million deal with Columbia Records.
She could easily claim the "B" in LGBT, but says she's not comfortable with that label either. If anything, she'd go for an "A."
"Sometimes I tell my friends I'm asexual because I don't feel like I seek out guys or girls." Kreayshawn lets interested parties approach her and would just rather let things happen organically. "A girl and I could start talking and I could think, 'Hey, she's cool, we should be friends' or I could think 'This girl is hot, we should hang out on another kind of hype.' And it's the same with guys."