“I’m a stupid whore and a frigid bitch / Will you make up your mind and tell me which is which”. No, I Used To Live In Notting Hill hasn’t been off its meds again, but it has been listening to the new Kate Nash album, and in particular the intriguing track “Rap for Rejection.”
The Kate Nash reinvention takes place right before our eyes on this track, which mixes grunge beats over Nash’s quirky voice. But of course, the history of pop stars going a bit rap ain’t pretty – anyone remember Robbie Williams’ “Rudebox”? Pleasingly this is far from a commercial exploit towards the genre of the moment (which if you’ve heard the radio recently, you would know is a watered-down eurotrashy type ‘R&B’). Actually, the track is an explicit rejection of commercialisation. It’s a rejection of almost everything, hence the name.
“Female castration / Go live demonstration! / Domestic violence, racist, homophobic / No time for the whole list.” It’s importance is underlined by these lyrics. Why do you have to be a bra-burning lesbian to be a feminist? Are they the only ones who can oppose female genital mutilation in the Middle East; bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan; or modern-day sexual slavery across Europe?
The song sounds like one of those that define a certain moment in time. Think of the songs that came to the fore amidst the collapse of the Soviet Union: Vladimir Vysotskii’s “Navodchitsa”; Boris Grebenshchikov’s “25 to 10”; Akvarium’s “A Generation of Janitors and Night-Watchmen.” All of them influenced youth culture at the time. It went against the official standard of what ‘music’ was. “Rap for Rejection” does all of this. But it will never be remembered in this way. Firstly because its Kate Nash, and secondly because feminism is hardly on top form, something I’ll be exploring later this week.
The song yields from Nash’s 2013 LP Girl Talk, her first independent release that further moves towards riot grrl territory without totally giving up on the jaunty indie pop of “Foundations” and Made of Bricks. She is currently on a worldwide tour and plays in London on 11th May at The Barfly.