Mama Kreay

Natassia Zolot, the 23-year-old, Oakland-born viral personality best known as Kreayshawn, announced her first pregnancy in May. “Motherhood is bout to be my new hood! LOL!!,” she tweeted. A couple days later, she expanded on the disclosure:

Yeah, I’m pregnant! It sucks. If your not pregnant don’t get pregnant for a while because there’s all these symptoms that make you feel weird and hurt and are uncomfortable and 9 months is really really long especially towards the end. You have to pack away all your slutty crop tops and high waisted shorts. Your stressed all the time and in pain and bored on top of that because, at the end of the day if your friends cant smoke with you or even around you they will find something better to do. And when you do ge to go out with some friends your feet and back usually hurt within an hour. Hopefully I will be doing the post in a few months saying how it was all worth it but, I am sure I will be dead from lack of sleep and breastfeeding and changing poopie diapers that I won’t have time to post that. So holla.

Six months earlier, Kreayshawn had released her debut album. She’s not a super-talented rapper and never intended to be a professionally employed one, but she’d attracted plenty of attention nonetheless. After debuting her viral video “Gucci Gucci” at the magazine where I work, Kreayshawn netted 45 million YouTube views and a reported seven-figure record deal. But she was also dogged by controversy, inflamed by her (now-severed) ties with a crew of childhood friends. They stupidly called themselves White Girl Mob, and member V-Nasty stoked ire for her offhand use of the n-word. (Confronted onstage in Philly about this, Kreayshawn said, “I’m not V-Nasty’s boss. V-Nasty her own woman.”) In any case, and as happens more and more with internet-birthed flameouts, the curious witnesses to Kreayshawn’s emergence didn’t become loyal fans. In the month her album Somethin ‘Bout Kreay was released, it sold an embarrassing 3,900 copies. For some reason, CDs were stocked only at Hot Topic stores.

Perhaps this came as a relief for those who’d called her one of those “high-pitched noises that people get too old to hear,” or portrayed her as a charmless loudmouth who pooped with the door open. But I find a relatable ambition and capacity to recover in her dance between unchecked feelings-sharing with flattering, savvy self documentation, and especially as a woman working in the same music environment in which she was made to look so ridiculous. Kreayshawn is an unusual force. Raised by a community of women then left to her own devices at 15, she relied on friends in the Bay Area to survive and gave back to its music community, directing videos for locally approved rappers like Lil B and DB Tha General. She’d been filming herself since childhood; a few months before her album release, she shared an irresistible montage of old video diaries in which she, age 10, tells the camera, “I’m looking forward to making more documentaries,” and then: “I am a brave little girl.” 

I think that courage has stuck with her, and I admire it. In spite of everything, Kreayshawn remains proud of her album. “Happy 1 year to my album. What a love/hate relationship I had with you! You still slap though… I might have not sold a lot (LOL) but, it was still a slumper!,” she wrote this fall. On “Marble Phone,” a recent collaboration with also-much-maligned teen rapper Yung Lean, she’s openly down but not out:

Kreayshawn, Kreayshawn
When you coming back, man, you must fell off?
I was never on
To my friends that think I’m famous, no, they’re wrong
I’m feeling sad
The label left me cause I’m a mom
Now I got a future, but I’m still looking for where I belong.

In the meantime, she’s not giving up on the idea of putting out more music, and releasing periodic DJ mixes, but more importantly, she seems to be enjoying being a mom to baby Desmond. Having already known the pleasure and pain of a million Twitter followers, she’s not addicted to their feedback. She’s got no plans to tour, drives a sensible car she bought with label money and lives in LA, but wants to eventually move back to the Bay and raise her kid there. Asked by a fan on Tumblr whether motherhood was how she thought it would be, Kreayshawn responded, “its way better.”

One of Kreayshawn’s current side-hustles is jewelry design. This holiday, a friend who also works on the internet gave me one of Kreayshawn’s necklaces as a gift. She did this because she knows I like weed and smiley faces, but it’s also served as a wearable reminder that if you’re adventurous enough to broadcast your feelings, you might get criticized. When that happens, you don’t have to disappear in shame. Maybe you just laugh, take some time, and then plot your next move.

 

Naomi Zeichner is senior editor of The FADER. She still really fucks with the spirit of the hyphy movement. 

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