The Rise and Fall of White Girl Mob

PROLOGUE

“And we stuntin’ like Gucci Gucci Louis Louis Fendi Fendi Prada, them basic bitches wear that shit but I don’t even botha.”

I don’t remember who showed me the song, or where I first watched the music video, though I suppose that’s how a viral pop song works: one day it appears, the next its lyrics are embedded in your mind, looping back into your consciousness years later, while you are shopping for cereal or shaving your legs or taking the last bite of a good sandwich.

There was a point in time when I knew almost all of the lyrics to “Gucci Gucci” by Kreayshawn. This point in time was the fall of my junior year of high school, when my friends developed a brief obsession with White Girl Mob: three small white girls who rapped and repped Oakland. We initially watched the “Gucci Gucci” video because we found this incongruity funny, but the obsession took root in something deeper: Kreayshawn’s lazy charisma as she puffed on a blunt while wearing Mickey Mouse ears, the earworm chorus, the undeniably fun bars: “I got the swag and it’s dripping out my ovaries.” Just coming into our cultural consciousness, we also understood White Girl Mob to have some important hipster cache—Left Brain, Jasper, and Taco Bennet from Odd Future, the hippest underground hip-hop collective, made cameos in the video. We weren’t quite sure what it was, but we knew that something was happening.

So did the music industry. After uploading “Gucci Gucci” to Youtube, the video racked up 10,000 views in a single night.

In the next two weeks, “Gucci Gucci” would hit three million views.

In the next month, Kreayshawn would receive a seven figure record deal from Columbia Records.

In the next two years, Kreayshawn and the rest of White Girl Mob would fade almost entirely from public consciousness, leaving a horror story in their wake: what happens when you hit the elusive lottery of internet fame and it all goes terribly wrong? What happens when you are delivered to infamy in the span of a few months—when millions of people are exposed to your work with no understanding of its context?

Today this is a familiar story, but Kreayshawn was one of the first stars to explode and fall entirely online. As my mind unconsciously returned to Kreayshawn’s lyrics this past summer, I found myself mired in White Girl Mob’s online presence: the twitter fights, B-list celebrity gossip stories, and the scores of interviews and vlogs. Determined to understand how Kreayshawn had left such an indelible yet brief mark on pop culture, I followed my high school self back down the rabbit hole where it had all began: YouTube.


I. KREAYSHAWN

In San Francisco, 1989, Elka Zolot, second-generation Russian immigrant and guitarist for notable punk band “The Trashwomen,” gave birth to a baby girl. She named her daughter “Natassia,” though millions of people would soon come to know her by a different name: Kreayshawn. In a couple decades, the name “Natassia” would become a point of information on Kreayshawn’s Wikipedia page, her real name a footnote to her rap name, her rap name a footnote to her infamous single: “Gucci Gucci.”

Elka was only sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen (Kreayshawn has said all three at different points in time) and Natassia’s father exited the picture before her birth. Natassia remembers her childhood as lackadaisically supervised: “I was able to be like, ‘Yeah fuck!’ And my mom would be like, ‘Haha my daughter said ‘Fuck!’”

Growing up, Natassia watched her mother. She watched her play surf guitar. She watched her smoke. She watched her draw on eyeliner in dramatic wings. She bought Wet and Wild H20 Waterproof black liner for three dollars and started painting on her own wings. In seventh grade she stole her mom’s pipe and bought some weed off a group of Cambodians who hung out in a local park. A diary entry from 2003, when she was thirteen years old, reads: “We smoked before school. Today was hot. Today was the science fair. And guess what? We’re gonna smoke tomorrow with Ivy but this time we’re gonna smoke a blunt.” Natassia smoked with her friends every day that week. Then the next. Then the next.

Natassia didn’t put much stock in academics. “I could probably say I went to none of my classes ever.” She finished ninth grade with a 0.0 GPA. She was labeled truant by the school and forced to make a decision: either start attending class or leave for good. She chose the latter and switched to Alameda High School, which kicked her out after she threatened to throw a watermelon at another student. The only place left for her was the Island School, a continuation school for troubled students, also in Alameda, CA. Natassia did not feel properly challenged. “You can do anything. You can take a shit on a piece of paper, give it to your teacher, and you will get credit for that somehow.” 

Frustrated by Natassia’s truancy, Elka moved with her new husband to Canada in 2005, leaving fifteen-year-old Natassia with her grandpa Stanley. Though Natassia had suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD since childhood, her mental health took a turn for the worse at her grandfather’s house. She remembers waking up, taking a sleeping pill, sleeping until eight, taking another sleeping pill, and then sleeping through the night. She told her grandfather that she was sick and skipped school for two weeks. When she went back to the Island School, the building was unoccupied. There was a sign on the door stating that the school had moved to a nearby military base. Yet when she biked to the military base the next day, she could not find the school. “Basically I just never went back to school because I could not find it,” she says. Having accepted her dropout status, Natassia moved in to her aunt’s house in Oakland, making friends with the local teens—and enemies. One of those enemies was the cousin of Vanessa Reece, aka V-Nasty.

“It was a whole bunch of drama—we’re all like 15—and [Vanessa] calls me up talking hella shit. She doesn’t even know me, but she’s like, ‘What’s up bitch? I’m going to beat your ass.’” Natassia, determined to defend herself, showed up a few days later to Vanessa’s house. It was immediately clear that the two were not going to fight. Vanessa was eight months pregnant. “I’m not really a bad girl,” Natassia remembers her saying. “I just be fucking around.”

The two became fast friends. Vanessa was used to rolling with criminals, so she appreciated Natassia’s relative calm. Natassia’s living situation with her aunt was not working out, so she moved into Vanessa’s home. While Vanessa worked at a chocolate factory and dealt blackjack to pay for diapers, Natassia worked at IKEA and dealt weed, then pills, then coke. Natassia saved up money for own apartment and a laptop, which let her mess around with video editing and sound production. She started a YouTube channel and branded herself: “Kreayshawn,” a name she chose because it sounds like “creation,” and that’s what she needed to do to keep herself alive, to channel her depression and anxiety into something productive.

Quite a few people ended up seeing her videos, including rappers Lil B and Soulja Boy, who asked her to make them music videos. Kreayshawn complied, shooting the videos for free, only looking for more film to add to her reel. Her eye for dynamic urban cinematography got her a full ride to Berkeley Film & Digital, where she went for a few months before leaving Oakland for the greener pastures of Los Angeles.

In 2011, Kreayshawn released her first mixtape: Kittys x Choppas, whose cover featured a pink cartoon cat shooting a gun in the air, from which erupted more pink cartoon cats. The mixtape flew under pretty much everyone’s radar—every song except “Bumpin’ Bumpin’” featured heavy vocal distortion, transforming Kreayshawn’s freestyles into tinny chipmunk flows. She seemed less invested in writing meaningful lyrics than she was in playing with persona through the lens of rap. Her songs are littered with anachronistic gunshots, DJ tags, and even clips of more famous rappers’ music (like Nicki Minaj). The bars vacillated between humor and gangster, not quite straddling either side: “I smoke dro like a rasta, I get money like a lobster eating pasta,” she raps on “Wavey”. She released the mixtape for free on DatPiff.com, receiving a few mixed reviews from listener accounts.

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Looking to create more music, Kreayshawn sent out an open call to her 4,000 Twitter followers for beats. Though she received several responses, one stood a cut above the rest, an instrumental from Staten Island producer DJ Two Stacks that sampled a line from “Bumpin’ Bumpin’”: “One big room, full of bad bitches.”

The instrumental was so good Kreayshawn went to a professional recording studio to lay down the track, a sort of cheerful rant against brands: “Gucci Gucci Louis Louis Fendi Fendi Prada, them basic bitches wear that shit but I don’t even botha.” Immediately she knew it was her best work.

Kreay recruited Jordan Capozzi (aka Lil Debbie) for the video, a friend she had made after several people had told the two that they looked exactly alike. Lil Debbie would play a basic bitch shopping on Rodeo Drive, Kreayshawn would intervene and take Lil Debbie to Fairfax to show her a good time. They were able to shoot the music video in one day, even scoring three features from members of Odd Future, a hot Bay-area rap collective. For the party scene, they simply lugged the camera to someone’s party. “That party was crackin’ but everyone was looking at me like, ‘Who the fuck is this bitch shooting a music video at our party? She’s wack.’”

Kreayshawn, Lil Debbie, and V-Nasty (newly free from jail—she had been arrested for stealing from a Pick-n-Pull) decided to call themselves “White Girl Mob,” in the tradition of three-letter rap crews, though this was mostly intended as a joke. V-Nasty only freestyled on occasion. Lil Debbie didn’t even rap. The three were hanging out in May at friend and fellow rapper Andy Milonakis’s house when Kreayshawn dropped the “Gucci Gucci” video. By the end of the night, the video had racked up 10,000 views. Kreayshawn remembers being amazed. That was before the first, then second, then third millionth view. And the record deal from Columbia. And, of course, the criticism.

Snoop Dogg called her “the missing link between the white girls who all love rap music and all the dudes who rap.” Drake called her up mid-interview, excited about her flow, claiming that if she ever wanted to collaborate he had “bars on deck for her.” Curren$y asked her to direct a music video. So did the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Other rappers attacked her in interviews and song lyrics. She was called a “Lil white bitch” who deserved a “K in the face” by The Game. But the worst criticism came from the slew of anonymous YouTube commenters.

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No matter what people felt, they seemed to feel it strongly.

In a matter of weeks, Kreayshawn became the center of popular rap discourse. The name “White Girl Mob” did not look like a tongue-in-cheek joke amongst friends when printed in official magazines. What was once a playful nickname was now a real brand, a rap collective accidentally wished into being. Critics were skeptical of the girls’ talent, so much so that conspiracy theories spawned—perhaps White Girl Mob was really performance art by a group of college students. Many people finished the “Gucci Gucci” video unsure of what they had just seen.

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“People don’t even know if ‘Gucci Gucci’ is real or not,” says Kreayshawn.

Columbia Records was determined to clarify the confusion, or at least capitalize on it. Kreayshawn was handed a “music slave shop” of producers and writers, ready to churn out material for her debut album. She recalls Columbia admitting that they had “never worked an artist as hard as we work you.” The internet had flattened Kreayshawn into a two-dimensional meme, a white female whose rap was novel for being white and female. Columbia wanted to lean into this image, fashioning lyrics that were more generic white girl than Kreayshawn. (Though Kreayshawn still participated in writing her songs, parties of as many as ten were now assisting her in the process, helping her hone a more label-friendly image.) While Kreay’s previous lyrics reminded her friend that “It’s summertime and your bitch is on my mind,” her new lyrics suggested that her friend go “steal your stepfather’s credit card” so they can go to the mall.

However, Kreayshawn could not be reduced to a basic bitch. For years she had been uploading music and videos; she did not think of herself as rapper; she thought of herself as an artist who catalogued her progress in various mediums online. “I never made anything with the intention of signing a record deal…It was just for fun,” Kreayshawn says. “I was just documenting like, ‘I’m keeping this for me.’” Columbia wanted her to do one thing and do it well. Kreayshawn wanted to do everything at her own speed. White Girl Mob’s instant fame was instantly soured by corporate expectations—while this is one thing for an aspiring artist excited to grind on new commercial territory, it’s another for an artist who was never aspiring to be much more than herself.

That year, Kreayshawn’s anxiety reached a new peak. A doctor prescribed her klonopin, whose withdrawal was infinitely worse than its calm. Her mother was very excited about Kreayshawn’s success, and asked to become her manager. “You doing good is the only thing that’s good in my life right now,” she said to Kreayshawn.

To top it all off, Lil Debbie was not pulling her weight. As the vaguely assigned “Stylist/DJ” of the group, Lil Debbie felt her place was more at the club than in the studio. She partied regularly and missed WGM events, even ones that had paid for her presence in advance. Kreayshawn kicked her out of the group—a move even Lil Debbie understood to be reasonable. Now the mob was just a duo. With Kreayshawn’s anxiety pulling her from the spotlight, V-Nasty increasingly stepped up to bring the energy in live shows.

While Kreayshawn’s off-the-cuff attitude was always an integral part of her personality, now it was getting her in trouble. Casual asides became shots fired. She made a crack at Rick Ross’s weight on Ustream (a live video-streaming service), forgetting that her words were being broadcasted to the public. The next day the public would hear about Kreayshawn and Rick Ross’s “beef.” Her social media success had moved Kreayshawn into the realm of public figure. Now the majority of people who read her Twitter did not know her in person. Her public image was afloat without the context of her IRL self. She was all content without context, and she no longer had control over her increasingly packaged musical content.

With all of this looming over her head, Kreayshawn had a hard time performing live. Music critics panned her live shows in local music media. Jeff Rosenthal wrote of a 2011 show at the Highline Ballroom in The Village Voice: “Better than no other concert I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot…This was an exercise in how far down rock bottom can be.” Perhaps worse, the article was titled: “Kreayshawn Lets V-Nasty Steal Her Show at the Highline Ballroom.” Other critics, like Ellen Lovelidge, agreed: “[V-Nasty] can flow and we’re gonna enjoy her future tracks possibly more than Kreayshawn’s.”

Onstage, V-Nasty often shouted the lyrics louder than Kreay, finding her light while Kreay slunk into darker corners. Live, it was apparent who commanded the energy of White Girl Mob, and it was not Kreayshawn.


II. V-NASTY

“I never wanted to be rapper,” says V-Nasty. “I was really just mainly out the streets. I was always just being myself in front of the camera.”

V-Nasty, even more than Kreayshawn, had a striking talent for behaving like the cameras didn’t exist. After “Gucci Gucci” directed internet traffic toward Kreayshawn’s YouTube channel, several thousand people discovered a video of V-Nasty being herself in the streets of Oakland. In “A Day With V-Nasty,” V-Nasty harasses strangers, freestyles on the hood of a car, and uses the n-word with disarming familiarity. Dressed in a floral tank top (suggesting a femininity she would discard in the coming years) and a gold chain with interlocking handcuff charms, V-Nasty smiles at Kreay while ciphering in a bedroom: “Lick my pussy, nah give me money.” She’s an unabashed goon, delighted by the rise she elicits, looking continuously at the camera, letting us know we are in on the joke. The video now has over two million views, though it has significantly more dislikes than likes. Many YouTube commenters assumed V-Nasty’s Black speech patterns and use of the n-word were an act, a white girl playing hood to go viral.

This was immediately sewn into the fabric of White Girl Mob’s brand, their n-word usage often factoring into their first headlines. Interviewers’ first question for Kreayshawn often pertained to the n-word, as much as Kreayshawn tried to distinguish her behavior from V-Nasty’s. (Kreay and Lil Debbie insisted to media outlets that they did not use the n-word, though V-Nasty has said this was not always the case in private.) To make things worse, V-Nasty actively defended her use of the n-word: “You don’t know what I’ve been through you don’t know my struggle, you don’t know what I seen. I’m a n***a. I’m a n***a, I am a n***a.”

Though her right to use the n-word as a half-Vietnamese, half-Caucasian is certainly contestable, her struggle is not. Out of all the girls in White Girl Mob, V-Nasty was the one you least wanted to pick a fight with. Unlike Kreayshawn and Lil Debbie, who repped Oakland but either didn’t live there or didn’t live there for very long, V-Nasty was East Oakland born and bred. With an absent criminal father and a single mother busy with providing for her family, V-Nasty says she was raised by the streets. She got good at fighting young, when people at parties would pick on her for being white. She’s butch as they come with an undercut, a fitted cap, and a grill hiding her chipped tooth (courtesy of her old cell mate, Audrey). She wears men’s drawers as underwear. She started drinking heavily at age twelve, stealing alcohol from the local Safeway. She once spent $45,000 in three months on lean (a drink of prescription cough syrup, soda, and Jolly Ranchers, often rhapsodized in rap music). When her baby daddy bragged about working part-time as a pimp, she asked him to show her monetary proof. When he could not come up with anything, she found a girl and pimped her out for a neat profit, just to prove a point. “So I went and knocked me a bitch, and I showed him how to get money from a hoe.”

When anonymous comments about V-Nasty’s lack of authenticity began flooding cyber space, V-Nasty was confused and hurt. She claims she had never gotten in trouble for using the n-word before: “Mind you I’m in the hood every day at this point. I’m trapping. I’m trying to make sure I’m feeding me and my kids, you know? So it was like damn, like, these people, all they say is ‘She shouldn’t be saying the n-word, she white, she ain’t from the hood, she wasn’t raised like this, like…’ Come on y’all like y’all don’t know me!” She says. “I didn’t know [saying the n-word] was a problem somewhere else cause I never been nowhere else!” Because she grew up around so few white people, she had very few conversations about systemic oppression: while she got picked on individually for her race, East Oakland was not diverse enough to foster larger conversations about white supremacy that might touch on the impact of the n-word. As far as V-Nasty knew, she spoke like everyone else around her.

V-Nasty remembers listening to new music from her favorite rappers and hearing disses aimed towards her. However, some rappers came to her defense, echoing her sentiment that so few white people grew up in East Oakland that the racial politics of the n-word were rarely touched upon. While it seemed ludicrous to many internet users that someone could not understand the universal standard for white usage of the n-word, some people felt this made V-Nasty more real.

One of these people was Gucci Mane, one of the most influential figures in early 2000’s rap and a personal hero of V-Nasty’s. Gucci Mane released huge quantities of entirely freestyled work, pioneering the new model of internet rap: release songs as you produce them. He was also instrumental in carving out Atlanta’s sound and illuminating up-and-coming producers. He found out about White Girl Mob while he was in jail, and sought out V-Nasty as soon as he was released in 2011. “For him to reach out to me? I didn’t even know why. I was like, what?” V-Nasty says. Yet the two got along nicely. “We resemble each other. That’s my twin!” In typical Gucci Mane style, they created the album, BAYTL, in three days. The songs were mostly freestyled.

Hip-hop music critics gave lukewarm reviews to Gucci Mane’s performance and shafted V-Nasty. Even if V-Nasty was a real G, she was not a real rapper. Freestyling was her hobby, not her vocation. Her unguarded spontaneity turned trite under heavy production. Where she had once found ease in front of Kreayshawn’s camera, she fell stiff in the face of a full production crew. In the music video for “Let’s Get Faded,” she shrinks in the shadow of Gucci, looking at him for guidance while delivering lyrics like, “Money flying out the anus.”

Now it was 2012 and Kreayshawn was finally gearing up to release her album, Somethin’ Bout Kreay, a whopping nineteen months after she dropped “Gucci Gucci.” (The first single, “Pancakes (Syrup)” (syrup here referring to cough, not maple) failed to chart.) So did the next. Somethin’ Bout Kreay dropped with all the fanfare of a fart. Debuting at #112 on the Billboard Hot 200, the album sold 3,900 units total. This was due, in part, to the fact that the album’s only hard copies were sold at Hot Topic, a store that mass-marketed punk culture to tweens in shopping malls. (How fitting for the daughter of the Trashwoman.) Kreayshawn received a total of one cent from her album sales.

Kreayshawn began to disassociate herself from V-Nasty, tired of answering for her n-word usage. The two had a public falling out on Twitter, in which V-Nasty exposed Kreayshawn for not writing the lyrics to “Gucci Gucci” herself, crediting the words to Speak!, another Bay-area rapper (interestingly, a white Jewish man).

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Kreayshawn and Lil Debbie rapped about pimping and sipping syrup, when V-Nasty was the only member of WGM who regularly participated in these activities. In many ways, V-Nasty was the most authentic of the group. She had the least space between her public and private selves. However, this meant that jabs at her public self were effectively jabs at her private self. “It’s like—if I’m being me, and all these other rappers get all this credit for being somebody that they’re not, but I’m being me and y’all are getting at me? Like that shit hurts.”

In the beginning V-Nasty had written back to her haters, defending herself on the myriad online forums that defamed her. After awhile, she stopped. She deleted her Twitter. She started refusing interviews. She went back to Oakland to take care of her two kids. Kreayshawn also found solace in motherhood, using a pregnancy as an excuse to step back from the limelight. She sat in bed in L.A. and obsessed over celebrity gossip, no longer fodder for those same tabloids. Both Kreayshawn and V-Nasty had seen their public image radically re-contextualized by an enormous audience. Neither wanted the celebrity, though neither could quite go back to who they were before the fame. The only thing to do was fade silently into the background, focus on the reality of their children rather than the ghost of their fame.


III. LIL DEBBIE

“It feels so good to be MVP [of White Girl Mob] because nobody knew I was gonna be MVP,” Lil Debbie says in a 2013 interview with BOSSIP. Lil Debbie, once Kreayshawn’s mini-me mouthing the words to “Gucci Gucci,” has created a style of her own: bleach blonde hair, a single gold tooth, a Taylor Swift shirt embroidered with marijuana leaves. She is the only member of White Girl Mob to release music since 2012, besides a couple of meager Kreayshawn collaborations released to Soundcloud. This is curious, as she didn’t actually begin rapping until she was booted from White Girl Mob.

After her brief stint in L.A., Lil Debbie moved back to Oakland to pursue a career in fashion. However, prominent white rapper Riff Raff (who is more caricature than any member of WGM) had other plans, insisting Lil Debbie record verses for his song. “I guess my rap career is based off of Riff Raff,” Lil Debbie says. “He’s the one who kind of punked me into doing this shit.” She and her roommate drove back to L.A. to help Riff Raff record “Brain Freeze.” Lil Debbie’s rap career had launched, and nothing would stop her from seeing it through—not even a noticeable absence of talent.

The thing with me is I’ve let people evolve and watch me, grow with me.” Lil Debbie says when explaining why she released two versions of the same album (California Sweetheart Parts I and II). Lil Debbie took the same approach as early Kreayshawn, posting music and videos in various states of progress, looking for attention rather than critical recognition. Unlike Kreayshawn, Lil Debbie’s work is not particularly personal. She hires people to write her songs; produce her beats; style, direct, and dance in her music videos. Rapping is a business, not a form of self-discovery. Yet this distance from the products of her labor has allowed her to cultivate a thick skin. After releasing her California Sweetheart albums, she stopped by Sway in the Morning for an interview whose callers served Lil Debbie her typical YouTube comment fare.

Caller 1: This is garbage Sway! You got this fake ass rapper on there—you’re crazy.

Caller 2: That shit is fucking trash dog! Get the fuck off the airwaves.

Caller 3: I just want to give Lil Deb props man. I like your Fendi Fendi Prada song.

Lil Debbie informed Caller 3 that she did not make that song, seemingly unshaken. She told Sway that she’s been getting that for a long time. Unlike V-Nasty or Kreayshawn, Lil Debbie seems to thrive on public vitriol for her image. “That’s why I do it, because hate motivates. It motivates me to do better and I’m only getting further.”

Unfortunately, others have been getting further at her expense. Lil Debbie maintains that Miley Cyrus jacked the ideas for the “We Can’t Stop” music video from Lil Debbie’s video for “Ratchets.” “Ratchets” features Lil Debbie rapping in an all white two-piece while Black women twerk behind her. “We Can’t Stop” features three of the same dancers twerking in the background of Miley Cyrus’s house party, while Miley sings in an all white two-piece. “When I see it I’m like, ‘No, you remind me of a corny white girl, like, you’re being corny.’ Just don’t take what we’re doing and make it corny. Cause that’s what I feel like she did.”

While it perhaps seems hypocritical to accuse Miley of stealing another’s culture when Lil Debbie’s own music video operates heavily on her own appropriation of Black women’s bodies and dance style, Lil Debbie might be on to something. Since White Girl Mob, white appropriation of Black culture—particularly by women, has proliferated in the pop world. Miley Cyrus now sings about Jordans. Katy Perry wore cornrows in a music video. Taylor Swift wore a gold chain in the video for her song “Shake it Off,” splayed out underneath a bridge of Black dancers twerking.

Current tumblr teen fashion is eerily reminiscent of WGM’s aesthetic. Kreayshawn’s signature gold bamboo earrings, chokers, and crop tops are now seen on suburban white girls all over the country. Whether or not their lane should exist in pop culture, they have certainly succeeded in blazing a trail for commercialized white female appropriation of Black, urban culture—a lane that more traditional white women have since ridden to success.

Or perhaps the most notable lane they’ve cultivated is the cautionary tale of internet fame. Kreayshawn still serves as a lesson to record companies trying to monetize a flash in the pan. WGM reminds us of the distinction between the social media self who is technically “public” but only accessed by those who know the real person (aka, the social media self of a non-famous person) and the social media self who is truly public—scrutinized by strangers who don’t have the context of that public self’s interplay with a private self. In rap, a genre built on narrative authenticity, it is certainly interesting that the lone standing member of White Girl Mob is ultimately the one least invested in rap as an art form. Though social media gives us constant access to musicians, perhaps this is not breaking down corporate press barriers to our favorite artists. Perhaps it has only created a further press junket, a platform to sell persona rather than express it.

While Kreayshawn and V-Nasty floundered against large volumes of criticism to their legitimate social media expression, Lil Debbie’s detachment from her public self shields her from online attacks. Jordan Capozzi is immune to Lil Debbie’s criticism: Lil Debbie is just a product, only somewhat related to the context of who she is. Whereas social media was once a way for artists to connect with fans to discuss and share their work, now social media is, to some extent, constitutive of the art. The art is constructing a persona rather than expressing a person, perhaps the only option left in a hyper-tailored pop industry. Perhaps that’s what pop music is now—an auto-tuned commercial for its singer, content constituting context. Perhaps White Girl Mob did not succeed because it was not enough of a joke.


EPILOGUE

Lil Debbie released an eponymous album this year. It has an average of 4.5 stars on iTunes. 50 people have reviewed it. In November she will perform in London. On October 11th, she tweeted: “When you truly born with game & hustle you will never go broke.”

V-Nasty identifies as Muslim, after having read the Quran in her most recent jail stint. She has kicked her lean habit. She made a diss track aimed at Lil Debbie that she has yet to release. After a long period of silence, she released a music video earlier this year for her new song, “On the Hood.” It’s lyrics are: “I’ll kill a n***a quick, I’m on a hood n***ga/All about my chips n***a on the hood.” Later in the song she raps: “Been me for too long so I can’t change.”

Kreayshawn got a camera for Christmas and started a vlog. She’s $350,000 in debt, but says she is happily living the mom life. Her son’s name is tattooed on her neck in curling script. In her most recent video, she visits an address she dreamed about the night before—87 Winward Street. She attaches a GoPro to her son Desmond’s stroller. They make the trek to 87 Winward, only to find a closed storefront. Kreayshawn goes to the beach instead and plays with her son. “I guess it means nothing. Nothing happened. Maybe I’ll make up a lie and say that something crazy happened.”

Written November 2016


Sophie Dillon

Sophie Dillon

she/hers

is still figuring it out.

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