kasai's joey bada$$-featuring debut is about not taking shit from pretty boys
Dani Dyer needs to play Georgia this song.
Welcome to i-D’s New Music column, where we tell you all about our favourite new artists so that when they get famous, we can be smug and say that we told you so ;)
Last night in Love Island, Josh fucked up. For those unacquainted: Josh is a very good looking guy who used to present things for LADbible. He was ‘coupled up’ with a firecracker called Georgia but parred her off for someone called Kaz -- as if she were a novelty fidget spinner to trade in when he gets bored, and not the sassy woman who stands strong in the face of heartbreak that she is. If Dani Dyer (daughter of Eastenders’ Danny Dyer, the nations new sweetheart and formidably loyal friend of Georgia) wanted a song to blast through the villa speakers after the recoupling showdown, it’d be this one: Pretty Boys.
The debut single from London newcomer Kasai is about not putting up with shit from boys so steaming hot that actually, they’re just muggy. A lick of bass guitar opens the track, like all those brooding bangers you swing your ponytail to while strutting down the street with your earphones in -- see: Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, or Selena Gomez’ Bad Liar of the same bassline. Then the chorus slams in -- a heavy R&B hook with large side of sass. “Pretty boys”, Kasai warns, “stop playing my girls. Listen, listen, listen, listen” -- (read: please, shut up, I beg) -- “stop playing my girls.” Joey Bada$$ pops in for a verse to voice the guys perspective, but really, it’s Kasai’s point that sticks: do not mug off our mates.
"I think what [Virgil Abloh] is doing for the culture and the streetwear scene in fashion is amazing.”
The video, which we’re premiering today, was set in LA: partly because Kasai had to nab the breadcrumbs of time Joey had amongst his tour, but also just because it looks great. Kasai lounges in a vintage white Mercedes complete with fuzzy dice. She hangs out with bunch of pretty boys, giving them a stern word on how not to go about your love life. She dons an oversized yellow two piece and gold hoops. The strong streetwear aesthetic isn't surprising when you consider who she’d get to design her tour outfits in a dream world: “Virgil Abloh. I think what he is doing for the culture and the streetwear scene in fashion is amazing.”
Between her fashion smarts, being on a first name basis with Joey, the fact she was spotted by Jorja Smith to appear in the On My Mind video and her feature in a Nike Air Max 270 campaign, it’s clear that Kasai’s established her cool cred before she’s even really got started. But there’s no need to worry about her having style over substance. The musician born Elise Kasai was brought up on a syllabus of beats; her first music memory a Saturday morning family jam -- mum on the guitar, brothers on bass and keys, Elise on vocals. Later, her parents put her through her paces with piano, drum and dance lessons. They blasted her with rock and roll, country and Motown, while her friends entrenched her in hip-hop and R&B. Then, once she left school, her dad gave her the most musical motivation she could ask for: a job at a travel agency. “I didn't enjoy it, but it helped me get by and thankfully, it really showed me how much I have to pursue music as my career,” she explains. “That’s when the real driving force came.’
Kasai’s upbringing makes it clear why she’s so well-versed in the intricacies of music making, and so in control of her own output. It’s a language that can’t really be taught, and if you’re not fluent then good luck. “The melodies and words have to come from my heart,” she says, which bodes well for the singles she’s set to release this year. “I'm pretty prepared,” she explains. “I’m just in the middle of doing the last finishing touches.”
In the meantime, if anyone wants to pick up the Queer Eye x Love Island crossover that someone floated on the Internet -- the one where Dani and Georgia “visit loads of girls having a hard time, telling them they’re beautiful and that they’re worth more than bad relationships” -- well, we think we’ve found your theme tune.
Press play on Pretty Boys below. The song, not the mugs.