Thursday, July 21
Better than: Not being in an air-conditioned room.
Kreayshawn—an Odd Future outlier and Lil’ B acolyte—has skyrocketed upwards since her arrival on May 16, 2011. In the immediate days after “Gucci Gucci” hit YouTube, she spent time in the studio with Snoop Dogg, partied in Las Vegas with Diplo, and signed a contract with Sony Records for reportedly one million dollars. An offer to direct the music video for the return of the Red Hot Chili Peppers dangled in front of her, as well, with a budget of 150K—no matter that she hadn’t been behind the visuals for her own hit single. Just this week, Drake interrupted his own studio session, calling in to DJ Green Lantern’s satellite radio show to giggle, flirt with, and co-sign Kreayshawn on-air for an uncomfortable four minutes. On Wednesday, she picked up a nomination from this year’s VMAs for Best New Artist.
And yet, nine weeks later, so many people think her career is over; a Rebecca Black fluke with Jerri Blank hair and Minnie Mouse ears, a million-dollar abortion a la Papoose. It’s not that “Gucci Gucci” was bad—it wasn’t, it isn’t—but rather that there’s nowhere for her to go but down. Critics feel she’s just the latest example of record labels throwing money at whoever is standing next to the almost-next-best thing. (In recent years, we’ve seen the Jerkin’, Houston, and Hyphy bubbles come and go. This current thing could be a Tumblr Bubble or a Swag Bubble.)
Last night at The Box, Kreayshawn showed her face to New York City. She stepped through the blue smoke and red lights, without introduction, without hubbub, not exactly launching into “Rich Whores,” her second single that sounds very much like her first. What Lex Luger is to beats, Kreayshawn is to vocals—she’s a Duncan Hines chef where the cake manages to turn out slightly different each time, despite it being built from the same basics. Her performance style (as it is) needs work, since it currently seems inspired by Saturday Night Live‘s “Deep House Dish” sketches. She moves her arms this way and that, though she doesn’t dip her hips or arch her back. She stays on her side of the stage, and her sidekick Lil’ Debbie gets the other. (Lil’ Debbie doesn’t quite know how to hold a mic, so she just waves it near the front of her own face, never aiming it at her mouth. Was it turned on? We’ll never know.)
This was (apparently) a showcase—Kreayshawn only performed four songs—but it felt like a high-school talent show. She seemed like a Canal Street version of Lady Gaga, sticking to what seemed like a very tight (and poorly written) script. When going into a song about cheating, she asked, “Have you ever been cheated on?” and then placed the microphone in front of a boy’s mouth, as he responded, “No, I’ve got good swag.” She tried again, not completely undeterred, asking, “Okay, well, um, have you ever cheated on anyone?” (He hadn’t.) The opening bars to “Left Eye,” an as-yet-unreleased song about burning down your ex’s house, pumped in. If you suspended your belief, you might believe she’d be so ballsy to do something like that.
Label representatives considered the show a taste for the true fans, a preview for her full-scale debut next month at the Highline Ballroom, and—with that in mind—she did fine enough. She’s like her YouTube video come to life, although you’d think that, with all of the awards and money and celebrities, she’d feel she was doing something right and be able to perform with her shoulders back and her chin up. Instead, Kreayshawn performs like the world is on her back, and maybe it is. Unfortunately for Sony, though, she’s very new and very unpracticed. That’s not a knock against her, by any means—it’s a knock against expectations. Apparently, a million dollars just doesn’t get you as much these days.
So here she was, performing, and then it was over. After her fourth and final song—that’s it?—she started to talk to the crowd. Noticing a deviation from the script, Lil’ Debbie quickly snatched the microphone away from her mid-sentence—a scolding mother catching her young daughter with a cigarette—and they waved to the crowd. Bye, Kreayshawn. Good night, Lil’ Debbie.
I thought it strange that no one seemed too upset that the show was so short. But there was no call for an encore, and no one begged Lil’ Debbie to return Kreayshawn’s microphone to its rightful owner. Though the PA didn’t instruct them to do so, the audience emptied out to the steaming sidewak as if shoved to the doors.
Kreayshawn had one mission last night: to prove that her fifteen minutes weren’t up. She hit the stage at 9:02 and got offstage by 9:16. So, at least in a literal sense, she’s still got time.
Critical bias: I am not a Barbie. I don’t work at Arby’s.
Overheard: “Y’all want me to do ‘Rich Whores’ again?”—Kreayshawn, after she had performed two songs. (She performed “Bumpin Bumpin” instead, which sounds the least like the others.)
Random notebook dump: I couldn’t get a good read on the demographic. Sure, there were the girls in loud outfits, dying to look interesting; there were the boys in bar mitzvah rave glasses and flimsy tank tops. By the bar, though, I talked to an unshaven average guy from Mount Vernon who had won tickets through an XXL contest. He had heard about the giveaway through Action Bronson’s Twitter. Curiosity knows no bounds, apparently.