Being a woman is confusing enough in the modern world,with absolutely everybody and every institution having an opinion on what kind of woman you should be, what you should like, your lifestyle, your moods and, ultimately, your mind.
These identity battles are hard and challenging for everybody, but triply so for trans-women, struggling against societal prejudices and deep-seated fears and phobias every step of the way. Real Bad Women by Minnesota singer/rapper/producer Water City explores not only what it is to be a woman, not just a trans-woman, but, most importantly, herself. It's a brave, unflinching and uncompromising look at a lot of hard subjects in a VERY sensitive world.
This candor is what makes Real Bad Women so important, no matter if you agree with Water City's philosophy or not. Actually, it's not guaranteed that Water City is even advocating for some of what she sings about, or merely showing a slice of society. "Drill Me Down (The Sissy Chant)" is the most striking example of this, detailing the desires of someone looking to be abducted and feminized. It's a shocking listen, spelling out the deepest, darkest desires. Sexual fantasies, desires and taboos are some of the hardest and touchiest subjects out there, making them almost impossible to talk about. Whether they're autobiographical or not, there are a lot of people out there - of all genders - with fantasies like these. It is part of art's role to discuss these depths, no matter how hard, how controversial. Otherwise, how else will we know what's out there?
Musically, Water City favors a raw, lo-fi trap, witch-house or future pop template. Simple, thudding kick drums and scintillating synth arpeggios create a loose web of sound behind Water City's harrowing, psychosexual psychodramas.
On "Sanctuary Mind,” Water City speak-sings, "Girls like me are of a lower station / girls like me can't expect to get married / Just a freak with impossible expectations." Lines like these suggest a deep self-loathing. It's one of the things about fantasies and desires - they are a window to the mind and to the soul. And while it is impossibly brave, powerful and useful to explore and be honest about these feelings, it is important to not linger there. At the very least, it's important for Water City to know that there are plenty of people out there who would love to introducer her to their family friends. Of course, if she's happy in the margins, that's cool too. Or even better still - how about the best of all worlds?
If only more of the music that pretends to be edgy and boundary-pushing were even 1/10th as dangerous, real, raw, powerful and honest. This is more metal than metal, punker than punk - kinkier than noise and more real than hip-hop, while still having hooks to sing to and beats to sway with.
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