Coco and Clair Clair rage against the creeps
The young rap duo finds solidarity in the face of internet culture
A few things gleaned from conversations with Coco and Clair Clair: The Taco Bell on Ponce closes at 5 a.m. and re-opens at 6 a.m. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is not On-Demand. Hummus and peanut butter make a great sandwich. Strands of hair can be used as dental floss in times of need. And the bass-boosted version of “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush is a must-listen. These fun facts complement the young rap duo’s lyrical discourse about the right to choose when and with whom they want to be romantic, knife play, freedom from harassment, and dancing: “No boys 2015 ... Don’t need a boy to call my own/Don’t need a boy to blow up my phone/I got my girls, we well known” they rap on “No Boys 2K15.”
Coco, 20, and Clair Clair, 22, keep their real names a closely guarded secret, mostly to protect themselves from employers Google searching their names and finding out more than they need to know.
The references and lingo they use may escape people over the age of 21, but anyone can understand the common threads of loyalty and the take-no-shit attitude that defines Coco and Clair Clair’s music. Songs with titles such as “Water,” “PhD,” and “Knife Play” pair woozy, lo-fi pop production with bedroom beats over lyrics that touch on relationships and the politics of internet culture.
Producers Slug Christ and Fit of Body spin the beats for their hive-minded lyrical creations. “P.O.S.H. (Get Off My Snapchat)” illustrates their M.O., and is the first song that Clair Clair recorded with Coco. “We were getting ready to go out and Slug Christ had this beat where he sampled Reading Rainbow that Coco really loved,” Clair says.
Their lyrics underscore the getting-ready-for-the-night vibe, created through meandering synth and laid-back percussion. Their voices ooze like honey in a back-and-forth singsong fashion while staying on the attack. Countless mainstream pop and hip-hop chart-toppers chronicle the exploits of young men hollering at young women. Coco and Clair Clair push back. They don’t need the holler or the boys. All they need is each other. “We don’t fuck with these boys ‘cause they’re trash,” raps Coco. “Sending dick pics on Snapchat/Richard pics, I meant to say, cause dick is bad.”
On the surface, each song moves with a breeziness that belies the serious messages it carries. The lyrics flow from ridiculous, funny, and cringe-worthy to thought-provoking. The approach is resonating with audiences: Coco and Clair Clair have tens of thousands of plays on Soundcloud and have tapped into a generational rebellion against the need for male approval.
Clair says they’re influenced by musicians who speak a similar language, such as New York City-based rapper Junglepussy (Shayna McHayle). Junglepussy is best known for spitting lyrics such as “If I catch you niggas creeping Imma beat up your friend/Looking out for my mama and my day one bitches/Independent women, we accumulating riches,” in the song “Bling Bling” from her 2014 mixtape, Satisfaction Guaranteed. “That’s the kind of music that I want to make,” Clair says. “Something that both excites and comforts people, and challenges them to think and grow. And she’s all about female love and empowerment, which is so important.”
Friendship shapes Coco and Clair Clair’s creative process as well as their message. “I can never write my verses until Clair has some sort of idea for the chorus,” Coco says. “I feed off of her.” Clair flips the credit back to Coco and says she finds inspiration in her freestyles. “A lot of it gets scrapped, though, because Coco’s lyrics get crazy really quickly,” she says.
During a recent show at 529, the song “Water” blasted out of the speakers, Coco and Clair Clair’s voices echoing “Water” and forming the reverberating beat. They stampeded around the stage with boundless energy, laughter, rapid-fire banter, and crystal clear verses. Their energy fueled the room. The audience was left slack-jawed with amusement or dancing in a ferocious pit.
Coco sums up their plan for worldwide domination, drawing inspiration from another internet icon: “Remember when Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet by posting a picture of champagne hitting her butt for that magazine? That’s what I want to do but I want to actually be successful at it, unlike her, because my Wi-Fi was fine when she posted that sorry attempt.”
The way they’re going, they might just succeed. In the meantime, they’ll stick with their friends and keep fighting the good fight.