It’s been over a year since reports first surfaced that Blac Chyna was in the studio recording new music. Her style was described as “poetry music,” and she was working with collaborators like Yo Gotti and Jeremih. We can now hear the fruits of that labor on her newly released single “Deserve,” which features the aforementioned artists. When news broke that Chyna was interested in not only dating rappers, but being one, she opened herself up to criticism and skepticism about whether or not she had the chops for it. Now that “Deserve” is here, it’s worth considering the question: Can Blac Chyna actually rap? I’m going out on a limb to say yes. Please consider the following before you slide into my mentions with your indignation.
“Deserve” is a bass-heavy reminder to men to have their own financial affairs in order before approaching Chyna or women like her. I can already imagine strippers adding a little bit more bounce in their booties when it comes on during their shift. On this track, Chyna has opted out of sing-songy mumbling, the lyrical style embraced by some of her contemporary male peers, and recently adopted by some of the female ones (like Quavo’s new girlfriend, Saweetie). Instead, the Kardashian family disrupter spits with crisp intensity, delivering lines like “Nothing better than them dollars, man/I fuck up more than your retirement” with playful clarity. After giving it a few spins, I have to admit that Chyna is decent on the mic.
Hip-hop evokes a certain authenticity and favors those who can enter the game with receipts of their alignment with the codes of hip-hop culture in hand. The vigilant disdain for those who exploit or appropriate the culture by neglecting these codes is real. A decision, based on public opinion, about who should and shouldn’t be allowed to even step into a recording booth is often more important than the quality of a rapper’s music. We watched Chyna’s gradual transition from stripper to reality socialite, and through it all she never revealed any interest or capacity for hip-hop. It should come as no surprise that early reviews of “Deserve” aren’t so much critiques of the song itself, but an insistence that they don’t want to hear the music in the first place.
Based on where the bar is currently set, Chyna is keeping up with — and in some cases surpassing — the best of them.
However, I am not so quick to turn my back on Chyna’s prospects as an MC when the Cash Me Outside girl has a record deal, Lil Peep is allowed to call himself a rapper just because he has a bunch of face tattoos, and Lil Pump has snagged collaborations with Kanye West and captured everyone’s attention just because of his ability to say “Gucci Gang” seven times fast. The days of lyrical profundity and a lifelong commitment to the craft as the mandatory criteria for viable rap careers are behind us. Based on where the bar is currently set, Chyna is keeping up with — and in some cases surpassing — the best of them.
With that being said, I do have some advice for how Chyna should move forward. I think she played it entirely too safe with “Deserve.” She came through the gate with two established male artists on a song that would have worked had it come from a female rapper that we’re already vested in. It was a good strategy, but not innovative or super engaging. Nevertheless, I think Chyna should lean into all of the things about her life that deem her unqualified to naysayers. I want verses about how she infiltrated the most famous family in reality and made everyone root for her in the process. Give me a track about how Tyga is trash, and Rob isn’t much better. I want Chyna’s trap version of “Thank U, Next.” The upper hand that Chyna has on so many other rappers is that there is a world of people who already want to hear what she has to say, whether it be during a half hour E! segment, or on 4 minute song produced by Mally Mall. I, for one, am all ears.