Bitches just won’t stay away, I need ho repellant/Nigga no repellant can stop these red-ass roach-ass hos. — “Fuck You Hoe,” DJ Assault
Why does this appeal to me, this blatant, rampant, step back-and-check-yourself sexism? Why do misogynist, stripper-glorifying rock acts make me vomit, while ghettotech superstar DJ Assault leaves me choking with laughter?
Amid a crowd of seasoned club kids who spent all week deciding what to wear, I sat by myself in a corner sporting way too much denim for the room and set out to discover why I can’t get enough booty bass and whether I need to turn in my feminism card.
I’m not the only one who’s caught the booty bug. The whole country’s picking up on Detroit’s unexpected phenomenon of full-throttle, rattle-your-chest bass; simple, jiggle-yo-ass up-tempo beats and don’t-hold-back, slang raps. Assault’s been featured in NME, Rolling Stone, Paper, Mixer, Urb, XLR8R, LA Weekly, New York Times, Spin, BPM, Mixmag and more. His hilarious new release, an 82-song ode to ass ’n’ titties called Off the Chain for the Y2K, was released on Halloween. And the day this paper comes out, Assault will already be on his way to Barcelona, the start of his two-month tour that zigzags between Europe, Canada and the United States. The tour stops in Detroit Nov. 22 at the State Theatre.
But back to his spin-date with the Motor crowd on Friday: I walked into the late show at around 12:30 a.m. and the party had just about hit full swing. G-strings peeked above bar pants and miniskirts. Techno kids swung their arms and did their little balance-and-spin dance. And a few wannabes hung by the booth, ogling a relaxed Assault changing records, turning knobs and pushing levels.
As I absorbed the overwhelming atmosphere of strobe-thin visuals and throbbing bass, I sat in the back, trying not to stick out too much, and contemplated. Which is funny, because I don’t think “thinking” has much to do with going to a DJ Assault show at all. And I think that’s why I like it. It’s not mindless, corporatized and mass-marketed pop, mind you. He simply likes ass and titties and he raps about them and how they affect his life. His name’s Assault, but there’s nothing threatening about the music. (The name stems from when he was part of a duo called Assault and Battery).
There’s almost a sense of respect, similar to when prostitutes were treated like goddesses or “love teachers.” It’s a very slight sense, but it’s there. And lyrics complaining about having to change his pager number because “These hos keep pagin’ me and callin’ me/catastrophe/what they want from me?” are a nice break from melodramatic “serious artist” whines in rock songs. I’m not ready to give up completely on the rockers, but it’s a nice break nonetheless.
DJ Assault’s style brings to mind a time when hip hop was all about arrogance, Funky Cold Medina, shout-outs, big noses and Miami. But it’s not a throwback. There’s no way these cuts would have flown during in Reagandom. We had to go through the rise and fall of political correctness to get to booty, that’s for sure. We had to reach the third wave of feminism. We had to hear out Chris Rock. We had to sit through Blair Witch Project.
Perhaps my interest has something to do with a fascination for the porn industry. Other than my face, my pale, skinny, hairy forearms were the only body parts I dared to expose at the show. It’s laughable, really, to imagine myself in a miniskirt and halter top. Which is why I find it fascinating. People who are so comfortable with their bodies that they’re willing to flaunt them, love handles and all, fascinate me. I wish I could be that cozy within myself.
Overall, I think my appreciation of the music has something to do with the full-circle tendencies of nature. Sometimes when something so abrasively offensive goes far enough out, it stops being offensive and starts being funny. Like holding back laughter after hearing a racist or sexist joke. It’s why that guy who seems so masculine might enjoy wearing nylons underneath his lumberjack pants. It’s why you see pictures of supermodels wearing men’s briefs on the Internet (or so I’ve heard).
It’s why a prudish feminist like me “reads the articles” in Playboy and shakes her booty to DJ Assault in the privacy of her own bedroom.Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times music writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org