I've long been obsessed with the Whale song "Four Big Speakers". I heard it on some CMJ sampler when I was in high school and always liked it. The official video is pretty boring, I don't know if I've ever watched it all the way through. I do know, though, that at some point in the last couple of years, I came across this video of a live performance of the song:
The whole point of the video, to my mind, is the blonde bewigged rapper on the right, and the fact that she's fucking glaring, pretty much the whole time, at lead singer Cia Berg. Who, I wondered, is she? She's credited only as Bus75. So let's talk about it, because I just started looking, last night. The rapper's name is Cream and she's fucking awesome.
She's probably best-known as a member of the Swedish hip-hop(-ish) band Addis Black Widow, which I didn't know about until last night. They're pretty fantastic, right?
In a sort of Euro-pop way. The mythology of the band is that they came from remote locales, and the co-vocalists Pigeon and Cream knew each other when they both lived in Oakland, then reunited in Sweden. Or maybe only Cream is from Oakland? But she's not from there, she just grew up there? I'm a little confused about it, and some of their Swedish fans are skeptical of the creation myth. Fascinating and fantastic is the fact that Cream is also queer (on which score the fans are somewhat less skeptical), so both she and pigeon sing about loving women, in a refreshing change of pace. The band's Wikipedia page refers to ABW as Queer Hip-Hop Pioneers, and I'm inclined to agree. How many queer Swedish rappers can you think of?
So funky and strange and refreshing. The songs are in English but are pretty much indecihperable. I think Cream is so rad.
This is mid-aughts and maybe I'm aging into a camp sensibility but I feel like it sort of presages the 1990s nostalgia that's metastasized over the last few years. There's a kind of horror or anxiety in the flattening of 90s culture, here. Maybe this is what it's like in Europe; things get put together, out of context. As an American, it's a little freaky. But it's exciting too.
She appears on another song by Whale, and while this track isn't as great, the video is pretty fantastic:
But what of Bus 75? Apparently Bus 75 was a side project featuring members of Addis Black Widow. They apparently only released one self-titled album, from which these two tracks are taken.
A different flavor. A little more butch, a little more American-sounding (or something). Cream is such a good rapper!
My understanding is that she left ABW in 2005 and is living in London. I'm desperate to find this Bus75 album. Who has it? Where is she now?