[19 December 2002]
There’s a long list of women in music who have appropriated “bitch” like it’s some claim to liberation and aggression that all women eat up like candy or some sort of tranquilizer against the sneaky and overt misogynistic mores of pop culture. From Missy to Lil Kim and far beyond, the pseudo-aggression of women in music is sad, ironic and dull—and so is re-appropriating the word to fit a feminist argument of feminine toughness or sexual power.
Khia is the most recent example of the inherent contradictions of claiming bitch status. It might have been sexy once, to see a woman crouched down on her knees in booty shorts, but once you’ve seen that same artist donning a head wrap shortly there after, it becomes visual schizophrenia—an example of their fickle inability to pick an identity.
Add to the indecision an overhyped venom that swirls over itself like the lines of an Etch-A-Sketch and you have the makings of a very uneven effort, in this case, Thug Misses.
To her credit, baby girl from Miami weathered the Internet death rumor nicely, and re-ignited a discussion about censorship on the radio airwaves. After the success of Tweet’s “Oops” (a relatively delicate ode to masturbation), it didn’t seem so far-fetched to hear Khia’s “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” even if it was still an alarming move. The same way that a near-prerequisite move for female rappers is showing skin, the only way to truly get a little bit of buzz in estrogen-infused rap is a little vaginal promotion. So, plagiarizing page one of the “rapping heifer” instruction book, Khia scored a minor triumph in the annals of booty chatter with inane lyrics about the virtues of having her butt licked.
Like her pseudo-feminist and scantily-clad girl rapper peers, Khia is only saying what guys have been talking about for years—she just breaks it down into it’s simplest form, which is not always a great thing. She is almost monotone, but not quite, just senselessly gruff in her tone most of the time with few exceptions. The most fascinating thing about “Thug Misses” is that Khia attempts to be well-rounded with a combination of raunchy, biting material and sentimental, sweet lyrics.
Besides the obvious topic, sex, there are few moments in hip-hop history as embarrassing as “F*ck Dem Other Hoes”, a threatening manifesto/whine about women who hate on Khia for asinine lyrics like “I ride for my hoes / I’d die for my b*tches”, which are repeated far more than necessary. Speaking of profanity overkill, the Trina-sounding “Jealous Girls” leaves a lot of unnecessary curses out of the equation, but it’s still pretty immature. It becomes clear long before the middle of this album that if Khia is only a studio thug (and several rows of her mugshots at thesmokinggun.com suggests she’s authentic), at least she sounds capable of beating someone.
Fortunately, too, she’s an equal opportunity grump and includes men in her line of fire with “Remember Me” and “F*ck Dem F*ck N*ggaz” and “I Know You Want It”.
You get the point—Khia has some baggage she needed to unload on the mic, and maybe it was a good thing she got it out (good for her, not so good for us.) Perhaps she lost sight of a few truths when she was in the studio, however. First, she’s not Eminem, and angry black women don’t get far screaming about their frustrations in the same way that disgruntled white rappers do. Secondly, there are so many four letters words that can be repeated on an album that is sixteen tracks long before it becomes monotonous and tedious.
Thug Misses is not a complete waste of time. “The K-Wang”, a Southern-fried bounce track that could actually be a formidable hit if anyone ever gets over the ass-licking song, would have been a better single. Taking the sentimental/sappy nearly Coolio-esque approach, she offers “You My Girl”, which is theoretically sweet and an absolute bore to listen to. As an equal-opportunity sentimentalist, there is the well-intentioned yet terribly trite “For My King (Tribute to the Black Man)”, which could just be over the top because of the chirping birds and opening spoken word, um, piece.
Despite the one-dimensional quality of both Khia’s sound and her product, it’s clear that she has the potential to clean up her material (in more ways than one) over time and surface with something a little more cohesive. If she plans to move beyond the angry bitch-posing, she’ll have to stop getting distracted by mundane sex talk and focus on honing her rap skills.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/khia-thug/