Image: Downtown Records / Interscope
The sexually explicit rap song has a long history in hip hop, but its lineage becomes markedly more important and subversive when bars like “lick my pussy and my crack” come from the mouths of women. A reaction against hip hop’s penchant for male dominated sex tracks with explicit lyrics that more than often demoralise a woman’s body, this sort of track in the vein of Khia’s My Neck, My Back became a way for women in the industry and culture to reclaim power over their bodies and sexuality. In the years since then, many have pioneered and championed the image of the sexually liberated and powerful female rapper, from Lil’ Kim’s ferocity to Nicki Minaj’s more recent posterior superiority. These women embraced the ‘sex symbol’ trope on their own terms, refusing to have their bodies and identities defined by the words of their male peers. Their reaction to the misogyny of lyrics’s like Big L’s “all I got for hoes is hard d*ck and bubblegum” was to interpolate this language but from their points of view, stripping lines that largely suggested a championing of violence against women and sexist idealism of their power by taking back their agency. Which is why the sexually liberated rap song has never felt more necessary than in the present moment. From the viral success of the Cupcakke remixes, to W.A.P and most recently Azealia Banks’ Kanye West sex fantasy or Iggy Azelia defiantly declaring “I am the strip club”, these reactions against patriarchal misogyny feel essential to the post-MeToo zeitgeist. Alongside peers like Brooke Candy and Cupcakke, Tommy Genesis forms part of this lineage of contemporary women in hip hop carving out a path for themselves curated by themselves almost to the point of autership. The Canadian rapper and artist rose to prominence in 2016, after magazine Dazed referred to her as “the internet’s most rebellious underground rap queen.” And in many ways, it’s a reputation that continues to inform her artistry. On peppermint, the onomatopoeic opening track off her latest album goldilocks x, she makes this explicitly clear: “I’m the bitch that makes fetish rap.” In a way the album, which is released by Downtown Records and Interscope as her sophomore effort, is a declaration of identity for Genesis. At twelve tracks and sans features, goldilocks x puts Genesis front and centre.
Across goldilocks x, Genesis’s audacious but always smart smut is a delight. There’s an irreverent delight to tracks like wild child, where her recount of foreplay runs from foot fetishism to full on succubus level soul eating. Then there’s men, a Gen Z feminist manifesto which Genesis wrote by polling her fans’ responses to why they hated men. The result is a kitschy yet startling progressive diss track of sorts which seethes with its matter-of-factness and blunt admissions in the ilk of “even when I cum, I’m pretending.” a woman is a god is an easy standout. Against a dark, scuzzy house beat, Genesis offers lines like ‘You’re in the club now, dark room, perfume You’re in love now with being you’ as she examines her behaviour at a strip club, switching the gaze to retort ‘if a man is a man then a woman is a god.’ Apparently written in fifteen minutes, the track gives credence to Genesis’s natural talent for sharp pop writing and smart hooks. But for all it’s sassy chic party starters, Genesis also uses goldilocks x as a vehicle toward more emotional territory, exploring the moments between casual sex and nights out in a way like she’s never before. This mostly comes at the albums close, beginning with baby and the scremo-hyperpop outing fuck u u know u can’t make me cry. It’s here where this sharp writing prowess slips slightly, with Genesis’s bizarre audacity giving way to tropes in the line of “angels and demons at war in my head” on baby and “wish you the best and I wish that you were dead” on fuck u u know u can’t make me cry. hurricane closes the album with a tried and tested metaphor for love as a tropical storm, a markedly slower paced track for Genesis and one which most falls victim to the conventions of expressing heartbreak in pop music.
While it’s imperfect, goldilocks x is nonetheless a brazen and enjoyable body of work from one of hip hop’s rising underground stars. Genesis is at her best when embracing her innate brashness, but her branching into new facets of her songwriting suggests a more complex artist may be in the stages of forming, one capable of reaching the ranks of the echelon of hip hop queens who have paved the way for her sort of gaze flipping. While her swings toward subject matter outside of the bedroom might miss the mark this time, there’s plenty of potential for Genesis to assume her final form, or perhaps more fittingly, her second cumming.
Watch the visualiser for a woman is a god from goldilocks x below, and download the album here.
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