Monday, December 10th, 2018

iLOVEFRiDAY – Mia Khalifa



Taylor Alatorre: A fake tweet. A vlogger couple. Clout rap. Esoteric e-celeb beef. The mainstreaming of porn. The backlash to the mainstreaming of porn. The politics of the hijab. Executive Order 13769. Murda Beatz-type beats. Samples of Kanye’s Street Fighter II samples. The death of Vine. The localization of Douyin. Anime conventions. Cosplay compilations. Idol hell. Ironic dabbing. 8chan threads. Gender panic. Boxxy nostalgia. Doxxing. White nationalism. The username “EthicalChad.” The ❌ emoji. Turning Point USA parodies. 10 Hour Challenges. Chat spamming. Cursed videos. “I’m already Tracer.” Cultural references that are years out of date but still omnipresent. Ugly lyrics that nobody cares about because they aren’t part of the meme. Ayanami Rei dancing to “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.” Anti-nostalgia. PewDiePie still. Probably a South Park appearance at some point. “Let’s get this money.” Everyone suddenly realizing at the same time that Generation Z is a discrete thing. Unironic dabbing. 2018. “Things Can Only Get Better.”

Maxwell Cavaseno: Explaining “Mia Khalifa” is possibly one of the most 2018 things in the world, but it’s also not a New Story. A pair of viral pranksters calling themselves iLOVEFRiDAY (Xeno Carr & Smoke Hijabi) who previous to this record were best known for their single “Travel Ban” where Hijabi was memed brattily sneering in Auto-Tune while posing with glocks in Pakistani garb. Could the internet stop itself from making these kids a meme? Dare to Dream! Could the oft-maligned porn star Mia Khalifa resist the urge to dunk on another Middle Eastern girl going viral for “unruly behavior”? She could not! Did Carr and Hijabi subsequently decide to make a song in retaliation that involves a lot of slut-shaming? Of course they did, because taking the high-road and being polite would’ve gotten no attention, which is the antithesis of their existence. That said, for the easy novelty they scored, iLOVEFRiDAY didn’t have to go as hard as they did. The two-fold formula is honestly rare-refined with Xeno Carr sounding like Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects pitch-tuned into an inhuman sea of kaleidoscopic juvenile misogyny. Meanwhile, Smoke Hijabi’s verse (yet again turned hyper viral thanks to a popular TikTok video’s incorporating the opening bars) takes the grate and fry of adolescence and scrapes it along the track making the days of Kreayshawn feel like they might as well have been Father MC by comparison. As someone who seethed and rankled in the days of the “ironic ‘screamo’ Crank Dats” or the typical American teen’s detached appreciation for “What’s Your Fantasy” or “Slob On My Knob” for the sake of being “edgy,” I can’t even pretend to be offended or find this abhorrent. For all the idealism of technology resulting in musical revolution, and the whole dissemination of education on how to be woke, any big platform to be seen seemingly always results in kids doing The Dumbest Shit as intrepidly as possible to “win.”

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Music was a mistake and the internet was a mistake and my complete, near-instinctual comprehension of everything going on here has made me reconsider all of my life experiences up until this point — but then again, that’s largely the point of “Mia Khalifa,” which is less song and more shitpost. It’s not reprehensible, in the grand scale of things that could come out of the general concept of “pseudo-religiously motivated diss track against a porn star that reaches popularity via TikTok.” Instead, it’s just boring, the auditory equivalent of the two most annoying people in your Discord group trying to riff on some current event without ever reaching an actual punchline.

Joshua Copperman: TikTok is mostly harmless, and the cringe compilations that float around the suggested videos algorithm are more dangerous than anything I’ve seen on the platform itself. So it’s strange that one of the most viral TikTok videos to date is based on a tasteless diss to a porn star, based on a fake tweet mistaken for a genuine one — so, not exactly “The Story of Adidon.” (I had to glean that information from Genius, because it’s not like there will be so much as a Vox explainer video.) Everything here is so vague, with barely any references to the tweet or even being a porn star other than “you play with them balls like it’s FIFA” and “is that why you tried to quit three times?” I am obviously nitpicking; ultimately, the context and song seem destined to be shared by edgy elementary school boys, the way the Sofa King video and quotes from Will Ferrell movies were back in mah day. Musically, it’s actually not as bad as it could be; an unintentionally microtonal beat with some interesting harmonies and production — the distortion on “we wish to go back in time” is genuinely neat. It makes me wonder whether Xeno Carr will actually wind up being a successful producer — but, in that case, he may too wish to change his past, because it is so bad. 

Edward Okulicz: Pretty sure this wouldn’t even make even so much as a dint on Khalifa herself, because the crux of the diss is that she was a porn star, did lots of sex she didn’t really want to do, and on camera, gosh. So on that level, it doesn’t seem to land any devastating or hilarious blows. Why this still gets some points is that woozy production and iLOVEFRiDAY’s sheer determination to make this sound devastating and hilarious against the fairly tame material. Plus I like the Street Fighter II samples, OK?

Iain Mew: I’m so here for emo rap that’s emo in that it approximates the snotty kaleidoscopic pleasure of a “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” and not just that it has some whining. 

Ryo Miyauchi: Bizarre would describe Xeno Carr’s crunchy bass beat or his deliriously pitched vocals, though it’s best applied to the circumstances that brought this record into fruition. A bygone headline of a name becomes a diss target for a song so “rap in 2018” in feel, and it inspires the exact warped music I’d imagine as the result of two odd, unrelated corners of pop-culture timelines coming in contact with one another. The diss itself gets as deep and personal as the impulsive tweet that triggered it. Smoke Hijabi’s jabs read predictable on paper, but her whiny, slightly ironic flow makes sure they stick.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: There’s a lot about “Mia Khalifa” that feels patently online — it was birthed from a fake tweet from the titular porn star, it blew up from a viral TikTok video of a teenager cosplaying as Nico Yazawa from Love Live!, and it’s the type of song you’d only ever hear about on the internet (or from people in real life whose vernacular includes a healthy dose of memes) — but nothing quite tops the actual composition of the track. In under three minutes we hear: the belting of post-Trippie Redd warbles, tongue rolling meant to resemble a ringing phone, a lifting of the melody from The All-American Rejects’s “Swing, Swing,” sarcastic talk-rapping, a sassy muah! and ew!, reverb-drenched chants of Mia Khalifa’s name, atonal synth melodies, Street Fighter II samples, and the sound of someone gagging. The overarching impression is that of a shitpost-quality Zoomer-created meme-turned-song, huge ironic detachment and all. Despite its popularity, “Mia Khalifa” isn’t getting represented on the Billboard charts or any 2018 year end lists; more than ever before, there exists a song that belongs to Gen Z and Gen Z alone. “They can keep it,” many will snidely remark, but Millennials and Boomers can ask themselves this: is there another pop song in 2018 that could have only been made by today’s youth, that captures the spirit of the internet, and unapologetically embraces the outré in the process?

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10 Responses to “iLOVEFRiDAY – Mia Khalifa”

  1. everything about this song’s cultural context is hilarious but it’s also completely unlistenable unfortunately

  2. @taylor
    …and i’d love it if we made it

  3. Jacob I came here to make that exact joke :D

  4. s/o Maxwell for the All-American Rejects shoutout, especially because about a minute in there’s a melody ripped absolutely shamelessly from Swing Swing (“Don’t you wish you changed your past”). anyway Smoke Hijabi’s verse is awful but also compelling enough to be genuinely good

  5. Ironically Joshua is def. who first introduced the similarities to me so credit due.

  6. Hit or miss

  7. Full disclosure: I wasn’t thinking of the 1975 at all when writing this and it was only when I reached the end of Pitchfork’s top 100 list that I noticed the similarity. I was, however, thinking of Allen Ginsberg’s “America” and the Fairly Oddparents theme song.

  8. Seeing a Muslim Twitter meme show up on TSJ? In this economy?

    There’s something about how relistenable the song is (even if you’re listening out of hate). Surprised no one described the experience of being assaulted by that opening “WHHHHHUUUUuuuuyeewwooooo do you think are”

  9. oh my god

  10. bless Left at London

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