This month in my One Random Single a Day challenge seems to be following a peculiar trend – I’ve been getting a bunch of ghost artists lately! By ghost artists, of course, I mean performers whose names result in little to no vital information through a quick Google search. This was the case with Nathalie and, most recently, Timothy Wilson, but the artist in question here seems to be the barest of the bunch. The artist, of course being Kimski, who is a (probably) female rapper from just before the golden age of rap music. However, the problems here are multiple – not only do no other recordings from the artist seem to pop up (a Google search brings up only a much newer electronic artist), but I’ve failed to find absolutely any information on the musician outside of the song itself (found on Spotify) and the above record image. In such desperate measures, I’ll even check for any comments whatsoever from YouTube or Last.fm – but I have turned up empty on these outlets as well. Same goes for searching up any information of any of the other names on the record (Buddy Turner, GrandDJ Destro, etc.)… nothing. This is a serious case of obscurity here!
In such instances, I guess I should just review the song solely by listening to it. With the first couple of listens, it comes across as little more than the average old-school rap jam, with backdrop being more rooted in house and electronic music than what is usually heard in such songs. It is pretty cool hearing a female MC spit lines on a booming track like this, and especially do it so aggressively (once again, I hate to assume gender here, but there’s really no other information I could go by). The backing instrumental is probably the high point of the song, replete with s0me intense drums and even guitar samples that drive the whole thing along very nicely. It’s a relatively aggressive style that I haven’t really heard in rap of this era, outside of N.W.A., so it’s nice to see that much smaller artists could pull it off alright.
And what about the lyrics? Well, first off, given that the song was probably recorded sometime in 1988, I wouldn’t doubt that the intention of Kimski was to draw influence from the 1987 psychological thriller, Fatal Attraction. Here, though, Kimski had some different kinds of fatal attractions in mind. In her first verse, she moves in the typical “White Lines” direction and condemn those who numb their day to day lives with drugs, specifically cocaine and crack. According to her, the downward spiral begins from the very first high (“Curiosity – that’s how it all starts / And once you get a hit, your life’s falling apart”); I admit, I’m a bit wary with this degree of judgment, since it tends to follow the same mindset as those who condemn drug users, seeing them as low-lives and undeserving of help, only incarceration. At the same time, though, I would understand someone holding this attitude if they had witnessed friends and loved ones wasting their lives away with addiction – I just wish it were somewhat more compassionate.
And the second verse doesn’t get any better. Here, Kimski’s condemnation moves from drugs to sex work, which is even more ridiculous I think. She speaks directly to sex workers who “sell those bodies… just to make a living”, as if it were any of her business. Nevermind the amount of violence and sexual abuse that such workers disproportionally deal with outside of the denial by the public that what they do is “real work”, but now here comes a voice to preach to them at how sinful they are: “Is this the only way to support yourself? / Giving yourself up to someone else / It’s a shame, but who can you blame; no one but yourself”. Even if she were referring to sex trafficking or other kinds of criminal activity that forces them to work against their will, her criticism is misguided. I just have no respect for someone who would blame victims as easily as they would turn their nose against someone who works with their own consent and sexual agency.
Kimski probably meant for this track to be uplifting and empowering to its listeners, but I’ll have to say that it failed on both counts. Its vilification of drug use and sex work comes off more condescending than anything else, and Kimski’s aggressive vocal delivery doesn’t help matters. It’s not that her voice alone is the problem, but what is professed in the lyrics isn’t at all progressive or welcoming. Both classes of people addressed here (drug users and sex workers – two classes that very often intersect) are consistently preached at and put down by others in their day to day lives, often the desire of others to give them they help they need and push their lives in a fulfilling direction. This song is just too many pointed fingers for my own liking, with only further solidifies my distaste for a lot of these early rap recordings. I think Kimski could have had some potential for greatness – she does have a pretty sick flow and sense of rhythm – but this song just wasn’t it.