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Ratchet R&B

by Mosi Reeves

Ratchet R&B

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With ratchet raps taking over the clubs, from Sage the Gemini's "Red Nose" to YG's "My N*gg*," it was only a matter of time before R&B singers formulated a response. In fact, much of ratchet R&B is just as uncensored -- check the TeeFLii single "This D," as in "This D*ck." It often veers into sexism, like when T-Pain sings on "Up Down (Do This All Day)," "She don't even like women but a stack will make her kiss her," as if female sexuality is just a porn scene funded by and made for men. But these are power games that both genders can play. On "Pour It Up," Rihanna uses strippers as playthings for purchase as she sings, "Money makes the world go round/ Bandz make your girl go down." The women dripping like candy, the money being tossed about like confetti, the drunk and disorderly braggadocio -- it's the total nightclub experience that's objectified.

Among ratchet R&B's innovators is Ty Dolla $ign, who virtually pioneered the micro-genre. His hushed, darkly sensuous delivery on "Paranoid" seems effortless. August Alsina's purposeful statement "I Luv This Sh*t" barely masks the anguished pride with which he sings it. Then there's Jeremih's "F*ck You All the Time," produced by electronic beat maker Shlohmo, which undulates like a sweet, syrupy buzz. And Beyonce's "Drunk In Love" is a monogamous spin on this typically polyamorous scene; she may be drinking, but it's only to engage in wild, passionate lovemaking (with Jay Z, natch).

As ratchet R&B continues to trend, it's likely that debates surrounding its lyrics will persist. But no one would care if it weren't also some of the most interesting music of the moment.

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