“I hate you so much right now! I hate you so much right now! UNGGGGHH!” No way can you deny “Caught Out There,” the new debut single by Kelis (pronounced Ka-LEES), who was last heard sing-songing on “Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard (pronounced Ka-RAYZEE). Big Baby Stanky Drawers, who has taken the title from Flava Flav as rap’s reigning lovable court jester and menacing sociopath, must’ve taught her a thing or two about getting your rage on.
Emoted in that now patented New Jill conversational stutter-step vocal style (the song is dedicated to every woman who has ever been lied to by a man—which broadens the 20-year-old West Harlem preacher’s daughter’s fanbase by about 150 million people in this country alone), “Caught Out There” serves as yet another salvo in the great Scrub Wars fought by a cadre of women with great stomach muscles ever since Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone.” But then Kelis’s pop-r&b move fades for a chorus more akin to Bikini Kill than Lauryn Hill. Her hate mantra is well worth the two-dollar drum track and tired video game samples; it ups the ante not only in the understaffed arena of female rage in pop (was Alanis the best we could hope for?), but also in the arena of an increasingly unpretty Divas Live world hungry for a boost of pro-fem punk immediacy.
Primal-scream therapy on music TV is the domain of DMX and white boys with sad dreadlocks, so when you see Kelis in her Andrea Dworkin-inspired dream of a video, wearing a huge psychedelic fright wig and cheap oversized ’70s sunglasses that’d make ZZ Top proud (as would the hair!) and leading a charge of pissed-off Oprah fans into revenge-movie heaven, it makes you want to see more like it. And I predict there will be more like it. As aggression for aggression’s sake goes, women’s boxing is only the tip of the iceberg. And—especially after she whipped out a dainty little pistol on The Chris Rock Show last week—so is Kelis.