Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Mz Bratt – Who Do You Think You Are

Grime starlet gets her mainstream on…


Michaelangelo Matos: The grime-into-dance-pop train keeps on chugging. This one reminds me a little of Technotronic’s “Move This,” always a good thing.

Chuck Eddy: Calling on my Head isn’t defined yet, but these are close: 1. white cap 42 up, 5 down: The term ‘white cap’ is used to describe a member of a group of try-hard teenagers who dress similarly; particularly by wearing a white baseball cap.

Alex Macpherson: 17-year-old Cleopatra Humphrey made her name with tracks which showcased her scabrous wit and fiery character: remixes of Wiley, Jazmine Sullivan and Busta Rhymes, and above all the early Terror Danjah collaboration “Give It To ‘Em”, on which she threatens: “If you backchat – you’ll get a Bratt slap!” So inevitably, as is the way of these things on this miserable island, her commercial debut is a piece of tired dull electro which erases all trace of her personality, a vague attempt to recreate her “Wearing His Rolex” remix without any of the jokes. Bratt slaps are desperately needed, but none are provided.

Martin Skidmore: I can barely believe that someone named Cleopatra Humphrey felt the need of a pseudonym! Anyway, the electro-grime music is punchy enough, but this is made by her vigorous grime rapping on top, making for a swaggering debut single. She sounds a touch tentative or mechanical in places, but there is personality and verve to make up for it.

Tom Ewing: Loving her haughtiness and the backing kicks enough for one go-round, maybe two, but this runs out of puff: the limitations of this chorus-weighted strain of electro starting to show a bit, I think.

Hillary Brown: Eh, the overall sound is okay, but it’s not really very bratty, unless it’s more of that repetitive, monotonous, “why do you keep hitting yourself?” kind of thing.

Anthony Miccio: Proud and trashy techno-pop that indulges in cliche stand-offishness while ignoring the less rewarding cliche of announcing the unconventional artistry of the vocalist in the lyrics. Because you don’t have to be a creative genius to wish assholes would leave you alone.

Andrew Unterberger: Big attitude, bigger beat, biggest earrings, cuter than Lady Sov — gonna be huge, right? Someone’ll have to explain to me what “or you’ll get air” means, though. Sounds potentially unpleasant.

10 Responses to “Mz Bratt – Who Do You Think You Are”

  1. getting air = getting blanked. no recognition at all – nothing, just…air.

  2. I really wish there was a stream of “Give It To ‘Em” online btw, it’s so amazing. It’s on Mary Anne Hobbs’ Warrior Dubs compilation from 2006 (!!! JESUS, THAT LONG AGO, AARGH) if you want to acquire it though.

  3. Guess I need to hear those earlier tracks of hers, because this is great (if, okay, maybe more an 8 than a 9) — almost definitely the bubbliest and catchiest, least vocally distanced, most energetic and effervescent grime-type single we’ve dealt with since I started scoring singles here. Which, given other people’s comments above, probably just means I’m not a purist or an artsy-fartsy when it comes to this stuff (at least in part because I have no real concept of what grime purism sounds like. Also like the new Lady Sov album just fine, fwiw, though pretty sure I prefer this to anything there. And yeah, I’ve always been a big Technotronic fan.)

  4. [i]given other people’s comments above, probably just means I’m not a purist or an artsy-fartsy when it comes to this stuff [/i]

    please to tell us who above complained it’s impure, or is being “artsy-fartsy” about this stuff, because this sounds like a pretty kneejerk assumption. The biggest criticism of the track seems to be that it’s too dull.

  5. You’re right, Anthony — Guess I mean Jukebox comments about recent grime tracks in general (people complaining that Dizzee’s been “dumbed down”, praising Dirty Danger for at least still sounding “legitimately grimey,” etc.) Though Lex’s spiel above sure has the feel of a sellout complaint to me (“as is the way of these things on this miserable island, her commercial debut is a piece of tired dull electro which erases all trace of her personality.”) Maybe I’m reading too much into that, though, and I flunk the Rohrschach test; may also be conflating negative reviews I’ve read of Sov’s new album. And most other grime songs we’ve reviewed here sure sound more artsy-fartsy to me (“weirder” production, more boring open space, less straightfoward hookage.) But maybe I’m hearing them wrong; as I already said, all this stuff is kind of Greek to me, since I’ve barely paid attention to the genre at all before. So I really don’t know where I stand on it — My biggest surprise is that a lot of it strikes me as really good. But I seem to be alone in thinking that Mz Bratt’s better than the rest.

  6. I forget what “grime-type” singles we’ve covered here so far but the idea of grime purism is pretty weird given that the genre’s split and mutated so much in the past year or so, and so many of its practitioners are getting more attention for vocalling different kinds of beats these days. I certainly don’t privilege “purist” grime (though Tempa T’s “Next Hype” and Durrty Goodz’ Ultrasound mixtape are damn good from this year), though – I’m all for pop-grime, funky-grime, electro-grime in principle – but I do privilege halfway interesting production which magnifies the artist’s personality. The problem isn’t that Mz Bratt has gone electro and tried to cross over; it’s that she doesn’t say anything funny or memorable at any point here, even though her past work has shown that she can. So it’s funny that her mainstream debut is the anomaly in her discography in terms of reining in her personality, which makes me think that either she thinks she needs to do that to cross over, or she’s been told to do that by others. And that’s the kind of selling out I’m opposed to.

    On the plus side, it’s not horribly-produced cheese like Tinchy Stryder’s singles, and the Lil Silva remix works well in DJ sets, hence a [5] rather than lower.

  7. Guess I’m stumped about how “If you backchat – you’ll get a Bratt slap!” is more funny or memorable, or shows more personality, than “don’t even pull my arm, ’cause you’ll get air” (if that’s what she’s saying — it sounds pretty funny to me no matter what she’s saying.) In fact, admittedly still not having heard the song that your quote came from, both lines read to me like the same personality.

  8. The first line is phonetically more satisfying, with that rapid-fire quadruple rhyme; funnier, because of the play on “happy slap”; more her, as she crowbars her name into it. (And it’s one of many great lines in “Give It To ‘Em”.) The second line is literally just something unmemorable that any girl would say without thinking in a club, which is underwhelming as a lyric.

  9. So it’s interesting for rappers to, uh, mention their own name or threaten physical violence or be something less than colloquial? Guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, Lex. (Have no idea what “happy slap” means, btw.)

  10. Okay, I looked it up. Still don’t get why using the word “slap” is especially brilliant:

    1. happy slap 498 up, 140 down
    happy slaps, happy slapping.

    Slapping a random person (they can be on the bus, walking down the street, whatever) whilst recording the act with a video camera phone. It’s a very unfortunate London phenomenon. Attackers are usually yoots (ghetto versions of chavs) thinking they are rudeboys. Victims are usually boys around the same age as the attackers, but it’s not unknown for victims to be older, or even women. Sometimes the tables are turned, as there are videos going around where the attacker is happy slapped by the victim. More power to the victims, I say. The act is totally random, so be on the lookout for a group of pussified yoots pointing their camera phone (that their mum bought) at you.