I just wanted to write this here b/c I was ~going in~ on that “BAYTL with V-Nasty’s Verses removed!” on twitter & i think that’s probably the worst place to explain something as complicated as this, so I’ve tried to quickly put some thoughts together here:
I think BAYTL is a failure, a complete one, although there are certain moving parts within its overall structure that seem to be operating well — including V-Nasty’s performance, which sounds hungry & memorable, if a bit amateur at times. And even the chemistry she shares with Gucci, who goes through the motions, but at least seems in his element. In fact, when I first went through this record, I found it pretty enjoyable; but I never wanted to go back to it, so I’m hoping to articulate / document my feelings here so that you can understand better why I think this project is ultimately fairly worthless.
First off, I realize there are folks who will dismiss the entire LP out of hand. While I think that is ultimately the ‘right’ conclusion, for critics, it’s simple laziness (that, or a cowardly way to play it safe) to avoid a project like this. So I wouldn’t begrudge the general listener, uninvested in rap criticism, from simply ignoring this project. However. I found myself fairly put off by some of the reactions from (often-white) educated people on twitter/tumblr/carrier pigeon patting themselves on the back for hating a girl who came from poverty, has been in & out of prison, grew up in a primarily impovershed african-american area & is largely uneducated, for using an unforgivable epithet. (she may be horrible; primarily, i suspect she is simply ignorant of its history). (It becomes especially suspect when you find out that she is, in fact, half-Vietnamese, which doesn’t in any way abdicate her of responsibility, but certainly should cause anyone at the top of the racial caste system (aka white people) to pause before unloading invective.)
Why would I care to defend a mildly-talented artist whose infamy is entirely based on the public’s constant titillation from a white girl using an awful word? And I think the reason was that while V-Nasty is responsible for her own language and must deal with consequences, it’s the societal response to that language engenders the most hostility from me. When I saw people directing their disgust at her, I felt like it was missing the real target here; diss her for dropping the word, but more than her use of the n-bomb (which I didn’t notice on this record, although I only listened one and a half times) it’s the entirely cynical nature of the project’s conception that sinks this LP.
Because the ‘problem’ with this record isn’t V-Nasty’s verses! If anything, she and Zaytoven (easily the star of this tape) are the only people involved in the recording who don’t seem like they’re just cashing a check. And that’s where racially suspect attitudes undercut this record (which has some great beats & timeless concepts). In the end, it was conceived with such cynicism — there are about 200 bay area rappers I’d choose to hear before V-Nasty (although frankly, at this point, I’d worry that Gucci would drag them down) and she’s been chosen here because of the cash-in potential; you never go broke underestimating the progressive racial attitudes of my fellow white ppl. I can’t blame her for it — and she’s said in interviews that (while she won’t change how she talks amongst her friends) she won’t use it on record, so she’s at least coming to terms at some level.
Ultimately it’s much larger than V-Nasty; I simply, viscerally, don’t want to hear records that so blatantly pander to a crowd so aroused by this race-baiting synergy. Gucci always toed a line, trolling the middle class, rapping with an unapologetic southern, “ignorant,” drunken drawl, but this was charged by the fact that so much thought and style were going on beneath the surface; it was as if he was saying, “you think I’m an idiot because I talk like this & live this way, but what I’m saying is probably smarter than what you are, & I’m speaking past you, and fuck you anyway.” Now he’s not saying that, or at least his story has lost what narrative weight and momentum it once had, the lets you sympathize; around the time of the Ice Cream tattoo, he stopped feeling like he was ‘us’ — the underdogs, the misunderstood — and became … too much himself, on his own. I tweeted when this project was first announced that this was the ‘most gucci mane thing gucci mane has ever done.’ It’s depressing.