[Written for Sabotage Times in September 2014. See the published version here.]
Why are all the hot girls in TopShop instead of dancing in a rented villa with Giggs?
Put your concerns about the Scottish Independence Referendum to one side and momentarily ignore the absurd rate at which rent prices in London are rising. This is far more alarming: We have a distinct lack of mesmerising and lust-worthy video chicks in our country and it’s making me really, really sad.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of grime or UK rap, I recently decided to watch Young Spray and Skepta’s latest visual in a freak moment of British pride. The song, “Amen”, is not actually that bad, but the accompanying video made me cringe more than Taylor Swift’s struggle dancing at the 2014 MTV VMAs.
As if the blatant attempt to copy American hip-hop party culture with a few red cups and one bottle of Ciroc wasn’t awkward enough, Skeppy and Young Spray were surrounded by a gaggle of girls who looked like they had been called upon at the eleventh hour, dragged out of bed on a Sunday morning and weren’t too pleased about it. Blank expressions, dead shark eyes, untoned stomachs, New Look bikinis and the personality of one of those little pens from Argos. If this was a YG video the casting director would’ve found himself ostracised from the larger rap vid community.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in UK rap videos and it has become one of the main reasons why I rarely watch them anymore. While women in American hip-hop visuals ensure that their bodies and fake smiles are always on point, a matter of pride, of owning that body, no matter the artists’ budget, the group of ladies featured in “Amen” appeared to have used up every last ounce of their energy at a beach party in Ayia Napa earlier this summer.
I’ll admit, having just returned from a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, where even the cashier at Subway looks like she could have stepped off the set of a video shoot with Migos and Young Thug (damned American genetics), I may have a slightly skewed ideal when it comes to the way video girls in the UK should present themselves while writhing next to Giggs and his crew. But the point still remains: ladies, we definitely could and should do better.
And it’s not impossible. English born model and ex-girlfriend of Mario Balotelli, Tabby Brown foresaw that her enthusiastic persona was wasted on this side of the pond and headed to the States instead where she landed a leading role in an American music video. After starring as Atlanta rapper B.O.B’s main chick in the video for his 2010 hit single “Magic”, Tabby went on to feature in big-budget visuals with French Montana and Akon too. BAWSE.
Meanwhile back in the UK last year, US rap star Joe Budden (who enjoys nothing more than watching women dancing in a strip club every night of the week, as he smokes shisha and writes simp tweets about old, failed relationships), could not even be persuaded to attend The Jump Off twerk contest at Scala, London after being shown footage of a previous twerking battle that left him completely unfazed. Bit awk for us.
Don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY of insanely attractive women in England. I’ve seen them hanging out in TopShop and outside Pret A Manger. However, if you were to look to our rap videos as an indication of how hot English females are (which I’m pretty sure people do because I would, tbh), we are sorely misrepresented.
I’m not saying British women should whip off their clothes and take pole-dancing classes before stepping onto the set of every video shoot they feature in, but at least draw upon some of that personality you showed at Notting Hill Carnival last summer and channel it into a convincing twerk or two for the music fans who want to see their favourite rapper winning at life.
And if all else fails, just imagine Nicki Minaj is your spirit animal or something.
Do you agree that UK video girls are letting the side down or am I being unfair? Tweet me, I’d love to hear your thoughts! @natashananner