If you were hip to pop music in the early 2000’s then you know that that decade saw the rise of the ‘Party Girl’. After a decade of worshiping slightly quirky, left of centre white girls who wore their quirkiness like a Prada purse, we were more than ready for something else, anything else. Into this vacuum came the heiresses with endless fortunes, the actresses fresh off the Disney lot and willing to prove themselves as grown. These women were iconic and partied with the kind of swagger we’d only associated with men at that point; they drank men under the table, partied till dawn, weren’t afraid to swap partners like Jimmy Choo’s.
With the exception of a handful of racially ambiguous women (hi, Kim Kardashian) the party girls of the 2000’s, led by an iconic Paris Hilton, were predominantly white, ultra skinny and blonde. And though they were in every sense of the word, independent, their identities were ultimately tied to the men they ended up sleeping with. In spite of all the freedoms they had, they never quite really escaped the ‘damsel in distress’ stereotype. We loved their mess, but we loved the scandal that followed when they spiraled out of control even more.
The ‘Party Girl’ has become a regular fixture in the pop culture canon, with each new generation spawning their own iterations of the scandal prone, hard drinking high roller. But that girl has always stayed skinny, blonde, white and on the dancefloor instead of the DJ Booth, until now.
— MTV (@MTV) June 7, 2018
Across the pond, many people will discover Farida Seriki (known to you as Kah-Lo) this month as music blogs use the video above of Selena Gomez lipsyncing to Kah-Lo’s “Fake ID” as fodder to perhaps draw some Selena Gomez based traffic to their sites. But Kah-Lo is already a Grammy nominated dance artist, critically acclaimed in her own right. Her song with British DJ and dance artist Riton “Rinse and Repeat” was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Dance Recording category in 2017, a surprise entry that few people could have anticipated. They didn’t win the category, but it introduced the world to Kah-Lo’s cutting lyricism, delivered in a droning, almost anodyne sung rap style, perfectly complemented by Riton’s futuristic beats. The world was curious, as the duo only had one single out, what was this unlikeliest of pairings going to do together?
First off, they became a proper collective, and since then have released a string of singles that are as catchy as they are cutting. Using Riton’s work as a sonic landscape, Kah-Lo crafts the weirdest of alcohol fueled adventures that are specific to her experience as a young Nigerian woman with a healthy love for dance music as they are universal to the culture of dance music. What separates their work together from the canon, is that in these stories, Kah-Lo centres herself as a new kind of party girl, black, self aware and committed to re-imagining this unique brand of female independence in the age of #MeToo.
It is almost alien to imagine a 20 something year old black woman navigating the dingy raves of Europe, but Kah-Lo is adept at warping reality to suit her whims. Her anodyne drone perfectly sets the scene for the perpetual ennui of “Rinse And Repeat”, a spectacular read of the singularity of the European club scene into which the character Kah-Lo conjures begins her journey as a party girl. On “Money“, that girl contemplates wealth and how it grants access to the kind of life we’ve come to associate with party girls; the constant jet-setting, the fake friends, the constant high. It also comments on how everyone seems to downplay how integral wealth is to privilege. This is where she starts to lean into a Naija centric heritage by featuring Mr. Eazi. There is a slight segue into dance-heavy dancehall on “Better Riddim” and “Fasta” which introduces an element from the green haired, dark skinned party girl’s childhood Kah-Lo embodies in her music. Fasta-fasta is children’s clapping game that Kah-Lo updates, affirming that her party girl is here to disrupt everything, even the signature headbanging of rave music.
“Fake ID” and “Ginger”, her two latest singles follows this new party girl exploring the club scenes in Lagos and Europe. Each is distinguished by specific experiences like being carded before you can get alcohol, an experience that Nigerians only understand refracted through the lens of western media, contrasted by the Owambe experience where everyone skips the actual event and only shows up hours late to the informal dance party that seems organically spring up after the formal events are done. There is of course, the very Nigerian predilection to get drunk before the party and move as a ‘crew’. The thread that connects the stories in both songs is the protagonist herself, who is always in control, and is always still on her feet when the dawn comes.
for those who are nervous waiting for an EP or Album by @thatKahLo!!
for a time I’ve never been so excited to wait for new works by artists. It’s incredible, she makes me feel happy and up! ❤❤❤ #KL1 pic.twitter.com/5uQGNFgq1T
— TEENAGE X (@cruelyoungx) June 13, 2018
Kah-Lo has teased on her twitter that a full EP is almost completed and on its way. We will have to wait and see where she and Riton go with the EP, but if the project has the wit and deprecating self awareness of her music so far, this is one party girl I won’t hesitate to go rave hopping with.
Stream Kah-Lo’s new single here.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.