BbyMutha photography via Disk Agency
In a 2018 Twitter exchange, Chattanooga-based rapper BbyMutha told a follower that while growing up in a very religious home, most of her normal human feelings and reactions were treated as the result of demonic possession.
“[…] the devil references come from growing up in a Christian home and constantly being made to feel as if I was possessed or ‘the devil’ for having normal human feelings and reactions as I navigated my way thru childhood and my teenage years. a lot of the things that I refer to myself as in my music, i.e. hoodrat, devil, hoe, slut are just me reclaiming shit I’ve been told about myself my entire life,” she wrote.
On her new EP, Muthaleficent, she invites listeners to immerse themselves in the underground atmosphere that she walks. The production, which includes work from regular collaborator and fellow Chattanoogan Rock Floyd, grants us the feeling that we’re taking a tour of her lair. Her hideaway, as well as the EP spawned from it, is as dark as it is vibrant.
“BbyMutha raps about the knowledge she’s gained from dealing with a world that is drawn to her power but hates to see her shine”
In line with the lyricism on her past releases, BbyMutha raps about the knowledge she’s gained from dealing with a world that is drawn to her power but hates to see her shine. She glides over the beats effortlessly as she explores what it means to be ruthless in her empowerment, the protection of her family, and her money chase, such as chanting “Fuck his bitch, break his heart” on the third track ‘Frida’. Her words and wordplay flip conventional expectations of a black woman’s relationship to bravado. Rightfully so.
BbyMutha, whose real name is Brittnee Moore, invokes the presence and power of women often regarded as villains in mythology and fairytales on her new EP. The title track ‘Muthaleficent’ is a spin on Maleficent, the Sleeping Beauty antagonist in Disney’s adaptation of the Walt Perrault story. Maleficent, once portrayed as an evil fairy set on ruining the life of young Aurora through the pricking of her finger, was revamped into an anti-hero betrayed by Princess Aurora’s father in 2014’s live-action Maleficent.
In ‘Fuck Everybody’, BbyMutha refers to herself as “Mutha Medusa”. While we often hear the story of a Gorgon slayed by evil Perseus, feminist historians with an interest in myth have dug up that Medusa was only cursed with a gaze that turned people into stone following an assault by Poseidon, after she had promised her celibacy to Athena. Medusa, once a beautiful maiden, was a victim of victim-blaming and turned into a snake-headed woman. In the Disney film Maleficent, the powerful fairy had her wings stolen by the boy she loved. Both of these female characters were deemed monstrous following betrayals by the people around them. By likening herself to both of these figures, BbyMutha highlights where the “evil” in all of their personas come from, and shows us examples of what reclaiming power back from true evil can be.
Features on the record are all from men in her underground rap community – fellow Chattanooga rapper Swerzie, Texas’ TTBBY, and Detroit’s ZelooperZ all round out the outsider rap aura of the work. On ‘Muthaleficent’, ‘Lookin for Me’ and ‘WWE’ respectively, all of these musical acts let us know that they are unbothered unless provoked. While we get hints of the damage these men could do to their competitors when goaded, it is BbyMutha who gives us a full rhythmic view into the hell she is able and willing to raise (“I know I was chosen/ Bitch it ain’t no cameras rolling/ I could end your life tonight/ and go cook breakfast in the morning.”)
“By likening herself to Medusa and Maleficent, BbyMutha highlights where the ‘evil’ in all of their personas come from, and shows us examples of what reclaiming power back from true evil can be”
While BbyMutha showcases the reasons why she should be feared without regret or apology, she also illustrates the reasons why it is hard not to love her. Throughout history and entertainment, something that ties the stories of the best anti-heroes together is their love of the families they have created for themselves.
BbyMutha begins this 7-track project with ‘Intro’, a hilarious exchange between her son and an older man: “You have zero money, zero quarters… you broke… you broke, boy!” Lovingly, BbyMutha asks “What is wrong with you?” between laughs. The moment is sweet. It reminds us of two things: BbyMutha is creating this music as a testament to her own strength and resilience, but she’s also creating this music to pave the way for her loved ones. Muthaleficent is a hard-hitter that proves, once again, why BbyMutha is a supernatural force who cannot be stopped.
Muthaleficent is out now. You can listen on Spotify.