SHYGIRL TALKS POWER AND OWNING SEXUALITY ON LATEST ALBUM: “ALIAS”
By Nick Lee
“Wanna know who I am / Know who I am”
In honor of Black History Month 2021, The Cultural Reset is taking a moment to look back at a particularly unique contribution to hip-hop/pop music history. No one anticipated that, in 2020, a young black rapper from South London would be revolutionizing the pop world alongside the likes of ARCA and Sega Bodega—but in popped Blane Muise (aka Shygirl) to defy the world’s expectations. Like the long-awaited answer to a prayer, Shygirl began saving hip-hop in 2019 with three singles— “Beautts”, “BB” and “UCKERS”—and quickly became a beacon of light to music lovers looking for a culture shift in popular music. In 2021, the impact of her most recent release ALIAS, still resonates with audiences and reinforces the fact that theatrics and electric grime belong in the hip-hop and pop world.
Staying true to the garage, club-like vibes that characterize Shygirl’s discography, ALIAS’s most popular single “SLIME” is an ode to the “bad bitches” that “always have to keep their hands wet”. It’s on this SOPHIE-produced track that she sings praises to women embracing their sexual power from both the perspective of a woman and the perspective of a male suitor. It’s a song that uses an experimental pop beat to visualize two sides of an ethereal yet, familiar, club landscape—on one side: the sex-seeking, alpha male and on the other: a woman that holds all the power of choosing which suitor she deems fit enough for her needs. Thematically, it is both a modern and primal expression of passion reminiscent of Shygirl’s previous works. It reflects the same sense of sexual freedom she’s promoted since she came on the scene.
“FREAK”, Shygirl’s latest collab with Sega Bodega, sees her expressing her sexual freedom in a fast-paced, heavily produced imagining of her “arse up, titty out” and having “raw on the bed”. It’s an especially vivid track that on the surface seems unnecessarily provocative; however its in her expression that “you can only have me [her] for the night” that the intention of the track reveals itself to be about owning one’s sexual control. In a world where female sexuality is heavily influenced by the desires of men, “FREAK” is a brazen call to action from an artist who is unashamed and proud of her sexual lure and ability. It’s a reclamation of sexual attributes that have been used to oppress and a reimagining of them as symbols of power.
“LENG” extends this expression of power and control to elements outside of relationships as well. In an interview with Coeval Magazine, Shygirl touched on her experiences with individuals in which she felt like she’d lost control and lost a sense of herself. It’s a topic that has touched her and has a significant impact on her music; however, “LENG” takes this expression of control and broadens it to material things as well. It's on this track that she talks to the boys about what she wants sexually and how she wants “racks, money, cash, bands” and to “forget my g when the news hits stans”. Shygirl finds a sense of power in a different place here: status and wealth; however, while rapping about status and wealth is considered a staple in hip-hop, her it has a deeper connotation. It’s Shygirl ascending above her lessers to her throne at the top. Yes, she has control over men and power in her sexuality—but she hints at what her plans are throughout the course of her career: World domination.
And we the people are ready for it.
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