Defend Your Ballot: Caitlin White, Pazz and Jop 2012 Contributor
Do you believe music writers should know Brandy deep cuts before they write articles about r&b artists?
I think I have a really interesting perspective on this dilemma because I only started listening -- like really listening -- to rap, hip-hop & r&b like maybe last September. I started because I had to cover it for work and I had never felt like it was a genre that could "belong" to me before. I obviously fell head over heels for the stuff because this genre of music is probably the one that is shifting and progressing the most still at this point because it is still one of the newest. I can't even name a Brandy track. That irks me, and I'm working on it. I think respect and research is important. Extensive knowledge has to be built and a lot of writers are young and we're all under intense deadlines and in a rush. But trying to set rules about who can write and about what is a tricky concept -- especially because it is this kind of thinking and mindset that kept me away from R&B and rap for so long.
Last September! Wow! Gotta send you some 100 Percent Ginuwine .
Please send all your r&b reinforcements. I have years to make up for. Decades!
Let's talk about rap. And-- hell, why not-- dicks. Specifically, Kendrick Lamar's dick. You wrote a piece about it ("A Feminist Celebration of Kendrick Lamar's Dick"), and by virtue of that fact probably thought about it more than most. What can you tell us about Kendrick Lamar's dick we don't already know?
I think the important thing about Kendrick Lamar's dick is that he is confident in its appeal. We don't really see the sort of wishy-washy longing from Lamar that say, Miguel is going on about. Kendrick is here, he's DTF, and even if he comes too quick it's just because your ass is too fine. Like how can a girl get THAT mad at that? I mean clearly if it kept being a problem then there'd need to be a conversation. But it seems like sex is really Kendrick's one vice at this point -- he doesn't really do drugs and he doesn't drink -- so the one thing that distracts him from the monotony of IRL boredom is sex. I think he strikes a really good balance of talking about sex with enthusiasm and passion and not necessarily falling into the misogynistic patterns that a lot of rap can and has in the past. It's not like he's embarrassingly prude but I think he rarely raps about women as sex objects but more as people that he really wants to have sex WITH... it always feels like the woman is present in the process somehow and not passively just there to be "fucked" by him. I don't know if you can print that.
We can totes print that. Have you seen the video for "Backseat Freestyle"?
I did watch it.
You don't think the woman bouncing her ass in it are being objectified?
Dude, do you see that girl? She is not an object. She is clearly a powerful force. She's bouncing her ass because she wants to. She enjoys it. That is more feminist than Maureen Dowd. I think in some ways, feminism has been appropriated to disallow women from participating in and enjoying sexual things. I dislike and disagree with thinking that runs along those lines.
Also like to point out that watching that girl move confirms that Kendrick is probably actually really good at sex and was just overwhelmed in that moment. Shout out to Kendrick's stamina.
Kendrick's dream is much different than Martin's dream.
I'm not sure if they're really that different though! Money and power is a crude way to put it, but, it's like I wrote, the fact that Kendrick can gain those things through artistic expression of his life experience is awesome. And I believe MLK Jr. would've liked to listen to Kendrick.
He would've totally dug this new Endless Boogie record.
Last thing, combining two of your favorites. Have you seen Dirty Projectors' cover of Usher's "Climax"?
Haha yes, it was such a good day in my life. There was definitely a "Cait ducking into the bathroom to cry" moment that day. That song is sadness though. From your earlier question, that song is 100% about sadness to me.
I'm crying just thinking about it.
I think this is the thing that appeals to me so much about r&b because, once again, sex is used as a metaphor. Everyone says R&B is just about sex, and in a lot of ways that isn't true, because these artists are using sexual experiences as a jumping off point to talk about other, deeper things too.
That could be true in some instances, but I'm also quite certain all of, say, R. Kelly's sex metaphors are just about sex. "Sex Planet." "Sex Weed." "Sex in the Kitchen." "Half on a Baby." "Slow Wind." "The Zoo." "Remote Control" (the song about his dick being a remote control). "Double Up." "The Greatest Sex." Those songs are about S-E-X and S-E-X O-N-L-Y. Not that there's a goddamn thing wrong with that.
Kellz is a master though and also addresses a myriad of other topics. But yes, songs that are just about sex are good too!
Oh, for sure.
Rock has never really figured out how to pull that off.
We've worked really blue here today, and I'm actually quite OK with that. Any early predictions for Pazz & Jop 2013?
Yes. Widowspeak. Their new album is incredible. Someone actually sent it to me at the end of last year and said "this record was made for you to love" and they were right. But I think others will love it too. I think it deftly shuts down those who claim that rock is over and guitar music is dead. Also, I just interviewed BJ the Chicago Kid yesterday, and if he releases his major label debut this year I predict it will, as the kids say, pop off.
Fuckin' kids. Thanks so much for your time and insight, Caitlin White. You have successfully Defend(ed) Your Ballot. May the days ahead be filled with many a music-inspired tear.
Thanks so much for asking me! So happy I could tell you my thoughts on slang words for genitalia while we were at it.