How Bhad Bhabie, XXXTentacion & Other Contemporary Florida Rappers Embody The State's Endemic Absurdity
Source: The Independent
Bhad Babie and XXXTentacion are signing million dollar deals, so Elijah C. Watson breaks down how Florida has given birth to an absurd subgenre within hip-hop.
On September 21, Danielle Bregoli, commonly known as the "Cash Me Outside Girl" and now by her new rap alias Bhad Bhabie, released two new tracks — "Hi Bich" and "Whachu Know."
Both are good, considering circumstance, but the former is much stronger—a bare-bones beat that's menacing in its thumping slowness with Bhabie carrying the track with a distinctive and infectious vocal delivery that's at its best during the song's chorus:
White J's, white Porsche, white wrist, white horse
Hi bitch, hi bitch, hi bitch, hi bitch
I do not sniff or roll it
It do not drip when I pour it
I do not run I reload it
I do not save it I throw it
Over the course of a week, the music video received close to 13 million views, 400,000 likes, 142,000 dislikes, and 67,200 comments. To think this all stems from an appearance on the Dr. Phil Show in September 2016 when Bregoli's mother hoped the talk show host could help with her "13-year-old out of control daughter." But instead, a viral star was born — Bhabie became a meme from the "Cash Me Outside" catchphrase, which was then transformed into a Billboard-charting track. In August 2017, she released her first official single "These Heaux," as well as remixed Kodak Black's "Roll In Peace" and Lil Yachty and Tee Grizzley's "From the D to the A," before signing to Atlantic Records for a multi-album recording contract.
A year later and Bhabie has become another young artist in the rapidly-changing landscape of contemporary rap music, with "Hi Bich" recently earning the highest charting first-week debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at Number 68. But she's not alone — rappers such as Kodak Black and XXXTentacion have popped up between 2016 and 2017, and have seen some notable success in the streaming service age. Although youth is a commonality between the three there's another shared connection that brings them together — they're also all from Florida.
Florida is notoriously associated with weirdness and dysfunctionality. Type in "Why is Florida so..." on any search engine and you'll be greeted by a number of topics, with the first one being "crazy." The "Crazy Florida" lists compiled throughout the internet as well as some of the strangest news headlines in existence, contribute to the state's perception as a place of oddities — and the latest crop of contemporary rap artists reflect this.
The year of 2017 has arguably been the year of Florida rap. There's mainstream figures such as DJ Khaled; middle-tier rappers such as Kodak and XXX; and up-and-coming rappers such as Lil Pump, SmokePurpp, $ki Mask The Slump God, Wifisfuneral, and Bhabie. Each artist embodies the extremities of the state they hail from in varying degrees that range from dumb and funny to despicable and violent.
Labeled "rap's most controversial man," XXX's rise has been tumultuous. While incarcerated at Broward County jail for violating a house arrest agreement prior to trial on charges of armed home invasion robbery and aggravated battery with a firearm, his song "Look At Me" became a hit, the distorted, lo-fi SoundCloud track has been played nearly 97 million times since its release a year ago. The song became so popular throughout the internet that some speculated Drake stole the song's staccato flow, using a similar cadence in his song "KMT."
On March 26, 2017, XXX was released from jail and he proceeded to embark on his first nationwide tour shortly after. But that, too, was enveloped in controversy: fan-incited riots; rappers affiliated with XXX being assaulted and even XXX himself being knocked unconscious while performing in San Diego. Still, XXX's popularity continued to grow, culminating in the release of his debut album 17. The short, 11-song album (it's 22 minutes long) ends with the rapper referencing his ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala, who is at the center of charges of false imprisonment, witness tampering, and aggravated battery of a pregnant victim against XXX.
Transcripted testimony from Ayala recounts the various ways the rapper abused and assaulted her, with Pitchforkreporting(WARNING: The following description contains information that some people may find disturbing):
The first incident of domestic violence occurred about two weeks later. He slapped her and broke her iPhone 6S, because she had complimented a male friend on his new jewelry. (XXXTentacion later repaired the phone.) Later that day, XXXTentacion left the room and returned with two grilling implements—a “barbecue pitchfork” and a “barbecue cleaner,” she said—and told her to pick between them, because he was going to put one of them in her vagina. She chose the fork. He told her to undress. He was lightly dragging the tool against her inner thigh when she passed out. He did not penetrate her with it.
The trial on those charges are slated to start on Dec. 11. But until then the 19-year-old XXX is still reaping the rewards of his rise, with 17 debuting on at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200. He has also recently collaborated with Noah Cyrus, Miley Cyrus' younger sister, on her song "Again." The rapper has also signed a $6 million record deal with Capitol Music Group's subsidiary Caroline, according to a recent report. Kodak Black has had a similar ascent despite his own trail of legal troubles. He has been in and out of jail since 2015 and has been charged with battery, robbery, false imprisonment of a child, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and sexual assault throughout the past two years. On May 4, 2017, the Pompano Beach rapper was sentenced to 364 days in the Broward County jail for violating his house arrest but was released earlier on June 5, 2017, after completing a life skills course. However, a trial is currently pending for the rapper since he was recently indicted on charges of first-degree sexual assault.
Nevertheless, the 20-year-old has made a name for himself as an artist. Signing to Atlantic Records in 2015, Black released his debut album, Painting Pictures, this year. The album debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and "Tunnel Vision," the second single released from the project, peaked at No. 6, becoming the rapper's first top 10 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. But arguably the biggest achievement to come Black's way is him playing a pivotal part in one of, if not the biggest song of the year, Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow". Black's 2014 track "No Flockin" inspired Cardi's flow on the breakout single which ultimately reached the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to do so since Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" in 1998.
Although the flow has since become synonymous with Cardi, the Bronx rapper has spoken about Black influencing her delivery on "Bodak Yellow".
Bhad Bhabie doesn't have the same list of legal issues as Black and XXX, but she has had her own run-ins with the law. To date, the teenager with an attitude has been charged with grand theft, marijuana possession, and filing a false police report, which she received five years probation for. Then, there's Lil Pump, whose recently released debut self-titled album could potentially take the top spot on the Billboard 200. Pump is bizarre in his own way, a 17-year-old known for his "ESKEDDIT" ad-lib and videos that show him drinking from a double cup, smoking and displaying large amounts of money. He's also a recreational user of Xanax, going so far as to proclaim the drug "the wave" on Twitter and even having Xanax-shaped celebratory cakes on two separate occasions. Pump's glorification of the prescription drug ultimately resulted in writer Brent Bradley warning the rapper about the dangers of drug addiction with a piece titled "Xanax Is Not the Wave: An Open Letter to Lil Pump".
Still, Pump continues to ascend as a breakout artist, his hit single "Gucci Gang" is propelling him to new peaks on several different Billboard charts (No. 1 on Billboard's Emerging Artists; No. 12 on Hot Rap Songs; and No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100).
The endemic absurdity of Florida is reflected in the contemporary rappers that hail from there. Like the strange and bizarre stories that come and circulate our news feeds from Florida now comes a group of predominantly young and polarizing rap figures, taking over the internet (and our attention spans) in more ways than one.
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