Kreayshawn Opens Up About Fame, The Game, And Growing Up Punk

Kreayshawn is no stranger to controversy. The 22-year-old Oaklandite, who rocketed to fame with her 2011 viral smash "Gucci Gucci," has always had more detractors than fans. Whether she’s being celebrated as a sub-genre pioneer, trashed as a phony, championed by girls around the world, or panned by the blogosphere, one things for certain: she’s doing something worth talking about. 

The Group Hug tour, a nation-wide jaunt promoting her first LP, Something ‘Bout Kreay, pulled into Irving Plaza on Thursday. The result: one big room full of excited little girls. The show was fantastic, cute, and fun, like a revival of ‘90s Girl Power with more eyeliner and swearing. 

Having always found her oddly polarizing, I was interested to meet the girl who so famously called out Rick Ross for being a phony and dissed Nicki Minaj on her first mix tape. I was expecting someone brash, loud and opinionated. But who I met was soft spoken, thoughtful, and unaffected. Kreayshawn just knows her audience. The music she makes is for young girls to bounce to, not for Pitchfork to analyze. She has remained in many ways a positive figure for girls who are constantly subjected to the slutty party songs. They’re better off wearing a beanie and hoop earrings than trying to pull off Rihanna-sized shorts. You either get it or you don’t. Kreayshawn doesn’t care either way. 

We spoke with her backstage her before her set on her past, her new album, and everything in-between. 

What was it like growing up in East Oakland, and how “hood” was it?
It’s really ghetto, but at the same time there’s a sense of community. It’s not like everyone’s out to get each other. There’s the dangerous stuff like drugs, like pimps and hoes and gangs and stuff. If you’re trying to get into the wrong stuff it’s really easy to do that. 

Growing up in that setting, do you find it insensitive when people assume you’re a faker because you’re white?
Kind of. They don’t know what I’ve seen. They see a white girl and they say, "Oh she’s rich, her dad probably bought her a car," or some ridiculous shit, and it’s just not true. A lot of people that came from Bosnia look white as hell and over there they have nothing. It’s not fair to condense people into categories like that. 

You’re mom was in The Trashwomen. Was your house a punk house or did she keep it separate?
Oh yeah, it was like leopard-print everything, Elvis posters, Virgin Mary decals….

How do you think that influenced you in the long run?
It made it normal to be weird. Everything that I do is normal to me; anything that comes of weird or quirky to me is just normal. 

How did the transition from directing videos to rapping take place? Did you set out to become a famous rapper?
It just kind of happened. I had been making music forever, but I never made music with the intention of getting a record deal. I never thought of that. When it happened I was just like, woah. People are always like, "So, what did you do to get to this moment?" I don’t even know. It just kind of happened. 

This tour has a great line-up in that it seems to be pure you, like you basically brought your girlfriends on tour. Was this your decision? Was there any pressure to link up with a bigger act to ensure the success the tour?
My main goal was to have it be an all-girl tour. I saw Rye Rye before through watching M.I.A.’s stuff. Me and Chippy have known each other; I directed a video for her and she’s on my album. Honey Cocaine [is someone] I’ve always been a fan of. So yeah, it just happened that way. 

Your album released to less-than-ecstatic reviews, but it seems to me they’re just taking it too seriously. What’s you’re response to them, and how seriously do you take your work?
It’s just for fun. It’s always been my way of having fun. I’m the one who got signed for that kind of music, and Columbia was like, "Do whatever you want." I wasn’t really making the music to impress the blog community, because then all my fans would be like, "You’re boring now." There wouldn’t be lines of thirteen-year-old girls outside my concert; it’d be hip hop-conscious guys or something. 

You broke out really fast through the Internet, and through that you got a record deal. Do you feel popularity on the Internet’s sufficient enough to make it? Do people even need record deals any more?
It’s hard because on the Internet something is forgotten in 24 hours. A video might be cool and get a hundred thousand views, but in two days you’re like, "Complex tweeted my thing! Awesome!" and then, like… that’s it. But it’s all about personal levels. I’ve already exceeded my personal level of success. It’s more about how high you set your goals. 

Do you feel your extremely rapid rise to fame will affect the longevity of your career?
On my own, directing and stuff, I’ve been slowly building and releasing stuff online. I don’t know what my peak is, I don’t know if my peak happened already, or if I’m in it now, you know what I’m saying?

Do you think the total accessibility of your material hurt your album sales?
Yeah, that, and they only stocked the album at Hot Topic…

Yeah, what was up with that?
I don’t know. The label thought it would be a good idea or something. It sucks because my manager, he puts out records for all kinds of Bay Area artists, and he was saying I could have gotten more records sold knowing his connections at Amoeba and Rasputin and stuff—just local stores. So it just sucks because people still hit me, like my mom doesn’t have a copy… I just got a copy. And on top of that they only stocked five every time. So people would be like, "Oh, I finally made it to Hot Topic, but it was sold out." 

Fame now seems to be about dissolving the barrier between you and your fans. Does it ever get tiring, constantly sharing yourself with the world like that?
Yeah, I’ve kind of fallen back from being a constant presence because that’s how I’ve gotten myself in trouble a lot with shit-talking or beef where it’s just misunderstandings on the internet. 

Is the Rick Ross beef still a thing?
No, definitely not. (laughs)

Your new album is more poppy than previous releases. This seems to be an emerging trend in rap in general. Where do you see the intersection of rap and pop laying, and is it dissolving?
For me, every song was supposed to be a popular version of a sub-genre that I like. There’s a New Orleans-inspired track, but it’s, like, the safe version. A lot of my stuff is dancier because I was working with one person at the time and he loves dance breakdowns. I’m all down for the dance breakdown until I’m on stage and I can’t dance and I’m just like, heyyyyyyyy

With this current intersection of hipster culture, pop music, total materialism, and rap, do you think gangsta rap is even being made anymore?
It is somewhere, for sure. Maybe the definition of gangster music might have changed also, but there’s always going to be everything being recorded. 

Being so West Coast, how do you feel about New York? 
I’m a real California girl. It’s really hard for me; I get anxiety in the streets. But driving around right now, it’s super nice, all crispy and wintery. It kind of reminds me of San Francisco, but times a million. 

Photo by Brooke Nipar

BlackBook Tracks #14: It’s Literally The Last Day Of Summer

Hey y’all, it’s literally the last day of summer! I, for one, am not particularly excited about the changing of the seasons, given that I am from California and believe that anything under 50 degrees is the arctic. I’m already annoyed by having to carry a sweater around, and I will even rebel against that bastion of autumnal culture, the pumpkin spice latte. One thing I have going for me is that I don’t own any white pants to feel sad about not wearing, so that’s something, at least. In mourning, here’s a selection of what comes up when you search for “summer” in my music library.

 

 

Girls Aloud – “Long Hot Summer”

Fact: unabashedly manufactured pop music sounds better during the summertime. British girl group Girls Aloud transcend any idea of there being guilt in their listening pleasure.

 

The Drums – “Let’s Go Surfing”

Has indie rock ever been so fixated on the beach as it has for the past few years? It’s a justifiable obsession, whether you grew up landlocked or not. Here’s one of the definitive tracks of the trend.

 

Eternal Summers – “Millions”

Look at what this band is called. Including them is obligatory.

 

Vacationer – “Summer End”

Lush, smartly produced indie pop with a smack of regret really just hits the spot today.

 

Coconut Records – “The Summer”

You probably didn’t need reminding that Jason Schwartzman is a perfect human, but here you go.

 

Animal Collective – “Summertime Clothes”

If you, like many other people on the internet, were disappointed with Animal Collective’s offerings on Centipede Hz, it’s always a good time to revisit Merriweather Post Pavilion. This song also serves as a reminder of how I’m finding it hard to let go of this aggressively tacky shirt with a pattern of palm trees on it.

 

Belle & Sebastian – “A Summer Wasting”

Granted, it’s also pretty easy to spend an autumn wasting, except now we’ll all be wearing sweaters and chugging pumpkin spice lattes.

 

Summer Camp – “Summer Camp”

I never went to a real summer camp, but maybe you did! Regardless, I think I still like the nostalgic British duo enough to make up for it.

 

Soso – “I Never Thought You’d Come In Summer”

Swedish chanteuse Soso combines hauntingly catchy production with the kind of vocal delivery that just oozes star power.

 

Kreayshawn – “Summertime” (ft. V-Nasty)

This is one of the more bizarre offerings on Kreayshawn’s much-delayed debut album, and I say that as someone who actually sort of enjoyed hearing the constant ads for “Gucci Gucci” on Spotify last year. I’m sorry.

Kreayshawn Gets Animated in ‘Go Hard (La La La)’ Video

Hey. Hey you, over there. Yeah, you. Kreayshawn has a question for you. "Ay bitch," she addresses her public on new track "Go Hard." "Do you really, really, really wanna go hard? Go in the crib, steal your stepfather’s credit card? Take the car and do donuts in the parking lot?" As with "Gucci Gucci," Kreay delivers an insanely addictive earworm of a track despite that same mostly-matter-of-fact delivery.

This time, the subject of her deadpan dismissives works not at Arby’s but at Forever 21, and Kreay encourages her to "get off the floor and go hard," which is perhaps something we should all take to heart, especially with this video as visual aide. Comic book effects, bloodshot-eye wallpaper and dancing wolf creatures are all present. Somethin’ Bout Kreay drops August 14th, but in the meantime, here’s the "Go Hard" video:

Listen to an Improbable Grimes & Kreayshawn Collaboration

They’re not the only participants in this partnership brought straight to you from the Internet’s id — Tragik and Blood Diamonds are also a part of this "supergroup," otherwise known as L$D. But this is what a prime piece of post-Internet content looks and sounds like: nasally flows, day-glo colors, kaleidoscopic imagery, and I presume a boatload of drugs. You can watch the video for the catchily titled "Don’t Smoke My Blunt Bitch," which was recorded in under an hour, after the click.

If you’re still confused, you can refer back to our old profile on Grimes and her ethos to get an idea of what might’ve inspired this collaboration. (A guess: the "GIRL GANG" and "GIRL POWER" tags on the video.) Either that, or just let the bloggability wash over you like a detoxifying wave. The zeitgeist continues to approach. 

Afternoon Links: Lindsay Lohan is ‘Back On Track,’ Kreayshawn is Unashamed

● Judge Stephanie Sautner suggested during their penultimate probation meeting that Lindsay Lohan is getting her life "back on track." She must not read the tabloids much. [Us]

● Couldn’t get Kraftwerk tickets? You’re not alone. Let’s get through this together. [VV]

GQ spends New Year’s with Kreayshawn and finds that the million-dollar rapper is nothing if not open about her bowel movements. [GQ]

● BuzzFeed has rounded up every world press photo winner from 1955-2011, and the New York Times‘ Lens Blog has the scoop on this year’s winning mother and son scene. [BuzzFeed]

● Kourtney Kardashian has confirmed with OK! that Mason’s got a new little sister on the way. [OK!]

The Paris Review gets down to serious Downtown Abbey business. [Paris Review]

Morning Links: Justin Bieber’s First Paternity Suit, Rick Ross Speaks on His Seizures

● A California woman has filed a paternity suit against Justin Bieber alleging that she took the pop star’s virginity in a backstage hook-up and ended up pregnant. Bieber and co. are saying, of course, that the baby ain’t so. [Radar] ● E! plans to continue airing the now obsolete Kim’s Fairytale Wedding because, as one exec explains, “The program model of television doesn’t exactly keep up with the life model of real people… if Kim gets to keep her gifts, why can’t E!? [NYT] ● Speaking of lost innocence: still mostly precious teen queens Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Emma Roberts are allegedly in talks to join James Franco in Harmony Korine’s upcoming film, Spring Breakers, about a spring break gone terribly wrong. [EW]

● Rick Ross says that he’s cleared a “battery of tests,” and that his two-seizure day was the result of his hard hustle. “I would get two hours of sleep and keep moving,” he explained yesterday on 106 and Park, adding that, “that has to stop.” [OnSmash] ● The guy who co-wrote Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” says it’s “a weird thing” that Kreayshawn is so famous, because he’s still “eating Spam for dinner.” [LA Weekly] ● Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij has a new song, and it’s real nice. [Rostam]

Morning Links: Mila Kunis’ Hacked Phone Reveals Timberlake Pics, Jay-Z’s Secret Son

● Scarlett Johansson wasn’t the only one baring all yesterday. Apparently Mila Kunis’ phone was also hacked, and on it were several “seductive” pics of her avowed not-boyfriend Justin Timberlake. There’s even one where he’s got a pair of pink panties on his head. Sounds like love! [TMZ] ● Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz are done for good. According to Page Six, all their dates were at the gym and he’s been trying to get out of the relationship “for weeks.” [Page Six] ● Guys, White House crashing Real Housewife Michaele Salahi was totally not kidnapped; she just forgot to tell her husband that she has a new boyfriend. And that he is the guitarist from Journey… [TMZ]

● Kanye West’s one part puppet, one part Kim Kardashian, several parts ugly sweater Comedy Central show looks so hilarious, though it never made it to air. This behind-the-scenes clip eases the pain. [PopDust] ● Did Jay-Z have a secret baby nine years ago with a model from Trinidad? Probably! But he already gave her $1 million and Beyoncé knows, too. [DailyMail] ● Making amends with Rick Ross is as simple as buying his pal DJ Khaled “a couple steaks.” At least for Kreayshawn it was. Who says diplomacy can’t work? [UpRoxx]

Lil Wayne Freestyles Over ‘Gucci Gucci’ on ‘Sorry 4 The Wait’ Mixtape

Although Lil Wayne has confirmed that Tha Carter IV is “totally done”—both recently and back in March when he first told MTV it was finished—the album still isn’t scheduled to arrive until August 29. So in order to placate fans, Weezy just dropped his first mixtape since No Ceilings, called (kinda adorably) Sorry 4 The Wait. Just like he did back in ’09, Wayne chooses to lace a few of the most popular beats around, including Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” and Drake’s “Marvin’s Room.”

Kreayshawn’s catchy-weird anthem has some pretty positive messages with all that rapping about “basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother,” but on a track that loops the line “one big room full of bad bitches,” you better believe Wayne’s going to have some fun.

Drake’s sappy “Marvin’s Room” also gets the freestyle treatment, as well as Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” which is used for the album’s title track. Download Sorry 4 The Wait here. Or stream the full mixtape below.

Kreayshawn on Her Doppelganger & White Girl Rap

In just over a month, Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” video racked up more than 4 million YouTube views, earning the pint-sized Oakland rapper/director/DJ and her White Girl Mob a few new fans, including one Snoop Dogg. A record deal with Columbia quickly followed her viral success, and this summer, the 21-year-old will head on a mini-tour before dropping her debut. In the meantime, Kreayshawn would like to remind you that her creative game has been bubbling for some time now.

After ditching the film program at UC Berkeley, she directed music videos for Soulja Boy and Lil B. Next, she’ll direct the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ new video, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” Her latest single, “Rich Whores,” picks up right where “Gucci Gucci” left off.

What inspired your signature look—heavy black eyeliner, hoop earrings? Growing up, my mom did the eyeliner thing so she taught me how to do it. I also used to buy the $3.00 bamboo earrings every day, but I finally got some real ones, so now I wear these every day.

What about the tattoos? Everything seems to come back to my mom, because she’s covered in tattoos. When I was 15, I snuck off and got my first tattoo on my neck—the ice cream cone. I didn’t think at all. It was like, ‘Oh I like ice cream! I’m getting ice cream.’ My mom still gives advice like, ‘don’t be out late, make sure you’re not partying too much,’ but she’s super young and doesn’t really have the mom voice. She’s down and she says this is the best thing happening in her life right now, which makes me feel good.

People are intrigued by your “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. Do you use your persona as a selling point? If I felt weird about anything people would be able to read that. I wake up at the house, I’m wearing pajama shorts, a T-shirt, and I’m doing a crazy photo shoot and that’s what I want people to take away from my personality. If there is anybody who says, ‘Oh, I love Kreayshawn and I want to be like her,’ then just be confident in yourself and do your own thing.

Where does that attitude come from? I think it’s a lot from where I grew up, in Oakland. If you act weak, people will pick on you because you’re weak. I’ve always had to be confident in myself, and I’m also funny and I can talk well with people and shit like that.

Are you trying to share that confidence with fans? Yeah, when I started making music I was making it for me and my friends to goof off. I didn’t think it was ever going to be this big. So now that I have a crowd this big, I want to be able to say something that I think is important or something that I think is missing.

About a year ago, you decided to pursue rapping full-time. Did you have an idea about what kind of music wanted to put out? I knew that I wanted to do what I thought sounded good, by mixing different genres into songs. I wasn’t seeking out producers that make normal beats, I would find a specific sound and listen to the beat alone, just hanging out, to see if it was different and if I could vibe to it. Songs like “Gucci Gucci” are about the beat and the melody of the song. My mom is a music genius, so i grew up listening to everything from Tito Puente to rebel punk music to fuckin’ Cool Keith and Mos Def mix tapes when they first started coming out. I’m everywhere.

Are the lyrics important to you? I’m just trying to put my hands in everything. Of course I want people to listen to the music, but I also want people to see the vision and I want people to wear the clothes. You know what I’m saying? What’s the origin of White Girl Mob? And why such a straight forward name? I used to say it in my freestyles all the time, just randomly. It’s me, V-Nasty and Lil Debbie and we’re all just three random white girls from different lifestyles so we could all come together and use White Girl Mob as a funny thing to say, just like NWA is a crazy mob. But then I’ve also been doing this thing called Girl Gang, which is like the spinoff. White Girl Mob is the name of the group for the three of us and Girl Gang is the name of the movement behind it.

Why does Lil Debbie look so similar to you? That’s how we found each other! Someone was hitting me up on MySpace, talking to me like I was her and I was like, ‘What are you talking about, my name is not Jordan.’ They were like, ‘Bitch you stole her pictures!’ Stole pictures? Is this really real? So we ended up hearing about each other all the time and finally met up. Back in the day, we used to look dead-on with each other. We always told people that we were twins but now that everything has been rolling on, I don’t want people to think that me, her and V-Nasty are triplets and shit. We’re all working on our own projects; V-Nasty has her own music separate from the stuff we do together. We’re all from the same area but we grew up differently and I think that’s what makes it so great. You know how the Spice Girls all have five different crazy personalities? We have three different crazy personalities as well.

Do you think people are fascinated by seeing a white girl rap? I think it’s something that people have either been waiting to see or something that people just don’t understand yet. There are people that are like, ‘I love this, she’s representing, this is the shit.’ And then there are people who are like, ‘What the fuck is this? Is she making fun of hip-hop?’ and it’s like, What? Nothing is ever that serious. I’m doing this for fun and for everyone who likes it. I didn’t click the “Gucci Gucci” video 2 million times, everyone else did. I can see how that it’s crazy, but there’s room for it.

Are you still trying to pursue film while working on music? I’m always going to have my hands in everything because I’m a creative person and this is how it all started for me. Based off “Gucci Gucci,” people were able to look back and see that I have a history of shooting stuff. It’s not like I just made this song out of nowhere or that I just got a deal randomly. I always want to keep my hands in everything, I think that’s important.

When will we hear your debut album on Columbia Records? Before any of this happened we were working on an album, so we’re just going to be finishing that up and putting it out. I want to put that out as soon as possible because I want people to know that this isn’t just some random viral thing. I’ve been doing music before I was on the internet, when I was like 10 years old. I made my first song with my mom when I was about 5. That was way before the freaking internet, that was before cell-phones and all that shit. I was definitely destined to do this.

What will the new album sound like? It’s a fusion of random genres, covering everything from how you feel when you caught your man cheating to how you feel about the basic bitches—you know the girls who are all swagged out, but not your kind of swagged out. There’s also gonna be some slow little songs on there. It’s going to have the same feel as “Gucci Gucci” but it’s going to be all different sounds and subjects. You’re not going to hear me complaining about the same shit.

You sing also? I’m not a good singer but I want to do everything on this first album because I’m establishing myself with it. Later on, I would love to do crazy music and maybe even do a metal band. I’m not scared, man. I don’t want to be in a box at all. People say, ‘You’re the rapping Lady Gaga’ or ‘You’re like Kesha’ but I want it to be something very different from that.

Any new, noteworthy collaborations? I made a song with Snoop Dogg, which is pretty freaking exciting. He loves White Girl Mob. He was like, ‘“Gucci Gucci”—that’s my shit.’ I’m hoping to get a couple random collaborations but right now I’m focusing on getting the album and my voice out. I don’t want people to get mixed up and be like, ‘Oh I’m going to listen to Kreayshawn because so-and-so is on this track.’ I really want to build a foundation first.

You’ve smoked a lot of weed on film. Is that part of your daily routine? That’s my medicine. Sometimes I can’t eat in the morning if I don’t smoke a little weed.