It’s a theme song for our times, and it comes from a most unlikely source. It’s called “Hate Me Some More,” and it’s by Gucci Mane and V-Nasty, off their newly released album Baytl.
The chorus goes like this (spelled as pronounced in the song to emphasis the rhyme): “Mo’ mo’, hate me some fuckin’ mo’/ Mo’ mo’, hate me some fuckin’ mo’/ Mo’ mo’, hate me some fuckin’ mo’/ I love it when you hate me, it make my money grow!”
Gucci may be a grown-ass man with a tattoo of an ice cream cone on his face, but he understands the basic economics of the current entertainment climate. Love him or hate him, he gets paid either way. Because, in the Internet era, it’s not about talent or ability. It’s about attention paid and energy spent. It’s about video views, comments, dedicated blog posts, Twitter and Tumblr followers. Noise equals buzz, and buzz equals dollars, even if said noise is mostly made up of a cacophonous chorus of BOOOOOOOOOO YOU SUCK. (See: Kardashians, Real Housewives.)
Gucci’s Baytl co-conspirator, V-Nasty, wasn’t chosen by accident. She, along with “Gucci Gucci” rapper Kreayshawn, is a part of the mostly despised White Girl Mob of Oakland, Calif., a rap-clique of white girls (get it?) who can’t rap very well, and pepper their songs and promo videos with copious and egregious use of the N-word. Kreayshawn just signed to Columbia/Sony for a reported one million buxxx. She’s playing festivals around the country. She has half a million Twitter followers. V-Nasty is following suit, releasing countless videos and songs to a plethora of comments from haters whom she burns as fuel on her rocket ride into the stratosphere.
Now entering the Coliseum of Hate is Lana Del Rey. An Internet sensation after three mysterious videos and a few sexy photos, there’s already been an ocean of ink spilled over the so-called “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” most casting aspersions on her authenticity or lack thereof. She performed on Saturday Night Live this weekend before she even recorded an album. And now, a new, bigger ocean. Her label, Interscope, turned on the spotlight too brightly and too soon, exposing for bare all her flaws. She bombed. Career over.
Nope. It’s just beginning. Her two SNL performances (which were, by any measure, abysmal) generated talk. Lana Del Rey trended on Twitter all weekend (her name misspelled “Ray,” but still). She’s had more attention paid to her in the last three days than there’s been since she was created in the lab of a marketing firm somewhere months ago.
Those who say, “It’s the wrong kind of attention” are missing the point. There simply is no such thing anymore. The attention is its own vehicle. People don’t (or can’t) distinguish between bad and good attention. (See: Charlie Sheen.)
Del Rey’s album (out Jan. 31) will receive more attention than it otherwise would have, and life in the spotlight will go on. Maybe not for long—these hype bubbles tend to burst easily—but hell, cashing out after a couple years of sold-out shows and traveling the world isn’t too bad a deal. I’ve heard from concert promoters that the bids for her upcoming April tour are through the roof.
In the epic battle of Attention vs. Talent, in the Internet era, Attention wins, and will keep winning. It’s the Harlem Globetrotters to Talent’s Washington Wizards.
Get used to it. Start by singing the era’s fight song: “I love it when you hate me, it make my money grow!”
PW's Music Issue 2014