Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Kreayshawn - 'Somethin 'bout Kreay'
Full of cartoonish 'tude and LOL-pop without the laughs
But in 2012 having swag isn’t what it used to be. Maybe it’s been over since 2010, when Toyota launched its ‘swagger wagon’. And Kreayshawn herself is no longer the hot new artist she was back then, when the world (or at least those with a Tumblr account) was looking up her ‘Kittys x Choppas’ mixtape and using the fact they were into ‘Bumpin Bumpin’ before you were as a bragging right. Then in March this year there was controversy surrounding her Twitter feed when some racist tweets appeared (she says she was hacked) – not to mention a war of words with Rick Ross, whom she called “fat” and “fake”. Ross’s response: “Nobody likes Kreayshawn, but it’s OK.”
So now we have Zolot’s debut album, which acts as a letter to haters and a manifesto outlining why she’s THE artist of choice for people who love both Waka Flocka Flame and Justin Bieber. “I’m the misunderstood girl of the rap game, you know,” she told US streetstyle mag The Fader earlier this year. “And my fans are the misunderstood fans of music.”
For half the album, this makes sense. There is somethin’ bright, enticing and FUN about Kreay. The Two Stacks-produced ‘Gucci Gucci’ pops in all the right places, Kreay’s cartoonish squeak a perfect fit for the Barbie-hating boast that she doesn’t need “Fendi Fendi Gucci Gucci Prada”. ‘Like It Or Love It’ is a powerful 808 stomp. And on ‘Breakfast (Syrup)’ – featuring 2 Chainz – she stoops to rhyming the word “breakfast” with “breakfast” (but at least the chorus “I got all the syrup/I got all the syrup/Juice, cheese, bread, breakfast!” is a quotable play on food/money). She’s said before that passion, not talent, has fuelled this album. And these tunes have passion coming, well, out of their ovaries.
Over 13 tracks, though, Kreay’s ‘thing’ wears waaay thin. ‘Summertime’ is cloying like hayfever. And the album’s ballad, ‘BFF’, is auto-tune LOL-pop with no laughs. The Katy Perry thing works fine when upbeat (like on ‘Go Hard (La. La. La’), but bombs when slowed down (‘Luv Haus’). Then there’s ‘Left Ey3’, where Kreayshawn cheaply states she’s burning a house down like former TLC-talent Left Eye; exclaims “Amy Winehouse, RIP!/Amy Winehouse, RIP!”; and drawls “I’m higher than Miss Courtney Love”. And that’s the thing. Kreayshawn may have swagger, but she’s nowhere near having the substance of Left Eye or Winehouse. Not just yet.
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