Guest Blogger: M. Tayo – I’m Petty Rapstar: Volume 2

I’m Petty Rapstar: Volume 2
Because TransRacial Lives Matter Ya’ll~

that’s not a typo, that’s genuinely what I think the MNET show,
Unpretty Rapstar: Volume 2 should be renamed, as that’s all I’ve
witnessed so far. And this time, I’m here for all of it.

the runaway success of the first season, one thing was made very
clear: pettiness sells and gets people talking. So this season, all
the focus is on petty one-upmanship, poor attempts at throwing shade
and of course, our favorite type of appropriation: cultural
initially refused to watch Unpretty Rapstar, because I loathe the
Korean variety/competition show editing technique where they instant
replay before the event has even happened, which kills the momentum
entirely. I used to find myself shouting at the screen in frustration
over wanting just to experience the complete scene uninterrupted by
other people’s reactions, (Jackson of GOT7 reuniting with his
parents on Roommates is a great example of this terrible editing
technique). Seriously Korea, stop it. Just let the scene speak for
also not a fan of runner-up Jessi. As a long time BoA fan, I wasn’t
too impressed with the remarks she made about BoA’s alleged
sexuality (it was a while ago, but still), plus I don’t like the
delusion she has about being a skilled MC, when all she does is throw
in random Korean words amongst mostly mangled English. However when I
was introduced to the Goddess that is Cheetah, I changed my mind
about this particular show.
when I found out that Yubin, of the newly reformed Wonder Girls was
scheduled to be on the show, it was a done deal.
decided to watch it solely for Yubin (and maybe Hyorin, even though
I’m still confused as to why she’s on the show).
majority of the girls are very talented, mostly the older heads like
Yubin, Gilme and Kittib. There’s even a wildcard in Yezi, but we
all know that the standout talent is Truedy.

young cat, entered the arena, decked out in old-skool hip-hop attire
and threw so many English phrases around within the first 20 seconds
of everyone meeting her, that they immediately questioned her
nationality. When faced with the dreaded question that most
mixed-Koreans face, she looked genuinely shocked and proclaimed that,
she was a person from Eunpyeong-Gu (a region in Seoul). At no point
did she mention the fact that she was mixed, either on the show or in
any of the TV-spots before hand.

it’s because she’s not mixed, Un-Truedy (shoutout to Pika Pika
217 from Omona for that one) has been cosplaying as a biracial Korean
the whole time. And why? Apparently, it’s because she loves black
loves black culture so much that she’s prepared to tan her skin,
put some kinky yaki in her pony tail, get cornrows, (which she refers
to as ‘dreads’ according to the subbed episodes) and speak with a
strange affectation as if she’s a person with mixed heritage, but
not just any person-specifically Tasha/Yoon Mirae, now of MFBTY and
the first lady of Hip-Hop in Asia, period.

set herself up as the talented underdog in the beginning. She
portrayed herself as a person who had risen from the underground, 8
Mile style, but just couldn’t shake that pesky Tasha comparison,
and it clearly upset her, demonstrated by her crocodile tears in
episode one of the show.
was taken in immediately as I’m rather sensitive to seeing mixed
kids on Korean TV talk about their struggles, so I gathered that
Truedy was mixed like Tasha and looked up to her so much, that
naturally she would end up sounding like her since she probably grew
up on the school of Tasha (which spans from the late 90s-present).
While there’s no doubt that Truedy is aware of Tasha’s work, it
seems to be a bit more calculated in the sense that it’s obvious
that Truedy has studied Tasha’s hand gestures and cadence to the
point where it’s leading to uncanny valley territory. She has even
taken on the name Truedy (obviously her English/stage name) a name
beginning with T like Tasha, who long ago was known simply as T.
all allowed to be inspired, but unlike pop music, where it seems to
be a rite of passage; biting someone’s style in Hip-Hop is a big
no-no. It’s comparable to having a ghostwriter, which is the
ultimate cardinal sin, as hip-hop is supposed to be about
reason why I’m so perturbed by this black cosplay thing that people
like Truedy, Rachel Dolezal, the entire Kardashian family, and Rita
Ora are doing is that they are using their privilege to cherry pick
things they like about black/mixed women and have chosen to use those
features, that cannot be erased on a black or mixed woman, and used them to their advantage. Suddenly, having cornrows are, ‘bold
braids’ and having a set of full lips are now seen as beautiful.
Let’s not get into the whole big ass trend (fetish). That’s
another think-piece for another day.

Tasha, debuted in Korea at age 16 in Uptown, she was a cute, visibly
mixed kid with box braids and had a flow like Da Brat, but the point
is, above all, she was the most talented in a group that was doomed
to fail. The group’s demise came about in 2000, because of some
trumped up drug charges, which involved Tiger JK, which ended up
being very false. At the center of it all was Tasha who was being
threatened with deportation or potential jail time. Because as we
know, all Black folk do is encourage innocent people to take drugs~

any of this surprises you, welcome to the real world. We’ve always
lived in an age where dark skin is seen as a curse and a weapon, and
in Korea, especially in 2000, Tasha’s skin tone was seen as
something to be ashamed of. So much so that record executives told
her to lie about it as they felt it would ruin Uptown’s image.
it’s pretty ironic that Truedy would go out of her way to wear all
these black signifiers, when for the first half of her career, Tasha
did nothing but try to tame her blackness. If you do a quick Google
search you’ll see Tasha in braids, Tasha with relaxed hair, Tasha
with wigs and various weaves, but rarely do you see Tasha with her
natural hair. There are recent magazine publications that saturate
her images with so much light that she’s barely recognizable and
yet the Truedys of this world think it’s okay to cosplay as a black
person (but not too dark, they gotta keep that privilege!) in order
to seem more ‘authentic’ to whatever culture they are trying to
add insult to injury, Truedy spits predictable rhymes about things
she’s probably only experienced vicariously from watching episodes
of ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ on YouTube.
has a thing about throwing the word black around whenever she gets
the chance; the first being in the song,
the first challenge. Truedy raps about ‘Korea’s first black
people’, which, in reality bears no meaning. But it immediately had
people (like myself), saying, “See she has to be mixed, otherwise
why would she say that?”

nope, it turns out that Truedy just has a penchant for that word
itself. In a freestyle she says; ‘Black feel like Teddy’s jam’,
referring to Teddy Riley. Then in the song, ‘If it wasn’t for
music’ Featuring Cheetah and Verbal Jint, she says, ‘ma black
queen Q’, who I’m still trying to figure out who she was
referring to (Queen Latifah maybe? But then why not say my black
Queen L?)

has been ample time to shoutout Tasha for paving the way for herself,
but it hasn’t happened yet, because what we’re witnessing is the
Korean edition of, ‘Single White Female’, without the murder. One
can only hope.

from Truedy being a culture vulture, she’s also very arrogant and
finds the need to drone on about how talented she is. However, she
knows who to kiss up to, hence why Jessi of all people, seems to be
enamoured by her. Truedy’s pettiness first became apparent when she
eliminated Su-Ah simply for not voting for her, when before they were
chatting it up and became very close. Another moment of petty was
when she decided to perform right in Gilme’s face and told her to
pay attention (as Gilme tends to get nervous and forget her own
lyrics). I think it’s safe to say that Truedy will emerge as the
villain of this season.

not saying Truedy won’t win, in fact it makes sense if it’s
already fixed for her to win, because then the Korean music industry
will have a Tasha-Lite that they can actually control.

no doubt that the girl is talented, but after witnessing her shady
activities amongst all the cultural appropriation, it’s hard to
root for her. However I wish, Yubin, Gilme, Kittib and Yezi the best.
I think I’ll be watching this show to see how long it takes for the
rest of the cast to coin onto what Truedy is really like. It’s like
watching Gone Girl all over again. But as the saying goes, what is
done in the dark shall be revealed in the light. And I shall revel in
every moment. Because petty is as petty does. 

Written by M. Tayo, children’s author and London Native. 

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