Review Summary: 100 dicks on my phone / please leave me the fuck alone
Lil Mariko is fuckng intense. She has released her first EP/minialbum/thing of new material, and it is as faithful to her whiplash brand of deeply, deeply cursed catastrophecore as anyone had cause to fear-hope. Listen and be grateful.
Having followed her ups and downs and screams and pouts for almost a year, I’ve come to expect great things of Lil Mariko. Real name Katherine Zhang, she shot to fame off the back of zero musical experience in late 2019 with the viral ascent of “Where’s My Juul”, her boredom-staving experiment with boyfriend/Insta-guy/gag artist Full Tac. That song’s gimmick was violent, TikTok-ready gold dust, and while the duo did well to preserve its intensity on future tracks, they’ve also been a little conservative on advancing on its blueprint. The blueprint in question is gloriously distasteful - I’ve seen people referring to it as trap metal
, but the reality is at once more complex (‘coz #irony) and more simple. Do we really need a goofy genre tag to convey the reality of a petite Asian-American lady screeching memes of terror over gorgeously lazy beats? This has carried her...somewhere: just over a year since “Where’s My Juul”, and Lil Mariko has a couple of singles, a treat of a Dorian Electra collab, and a sizable level of VICE-flavoured hype behind her. What to do now? Double down on the gimmick, walk a new path, blaspheme against everything pure and sacred, or sell out to the powers of good taste? She has everything to prove and a world to win. It is time for a proper debut: strap on and go!
is an appropriately bumpy ride. It crosses its eyes towards the past and future simultaneously, sticks its tongue firmly in its cheek (and elsewhere), and turns the present into an impossibly long
timeframe where fleeting moments last forever and attention spans are the butt of every joke. In some senses, it’s a step forwards: the bookends in particular see Lil Mariko double down on trap with a hitherto absent interest in exploring genre intricacies rather than skimming the surface for sweet, sweet shock value. Opener “Hi, I’m A Slut” is a gleefully debauched celebration of living that world-class hoe
life; closer “Catboys” rounds things off with a ferocious ode to pegging (claws out, nails trimmed). These two tracks are as graphic and profane as anything in Lil Mariko’s small portfolio, but their focus takes a baby step beyond the novelty of her home territory, picking up where her appearance on Dorian Electra’s “Ram It Down” left off and dishing out a sex-posi lyrical assault that largely sidelines screaming and feels twice as visceral for it.
Everything in between commits to the thrill that originally brought Lil Mariko to notoriety and revisits it across a variety of guises. “Shiny” is the best of these because the pure fucking absurdity and chiasmatic rhyme scheme of its full-throated chorus is hilarious in ways that few of life’s pleasures come close to (I’m a shiny bitch / I got lots of shiny shit / I got glitter on my clit / coz I’m a shiny bitch
); “100 Dicks” fares almost as well for similar reasons, and “Don’t Touch”, first of her post-Juul singles, is no slouch. These tracks all thrive off the same alternation between menacing synth hooks and overkill screaming, but their diversity of lyrical content (post-glamour/unwanted dick pics/unwanted groping) keeps their onslaught engaging. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that the Zheani collaboration “Disgusting” has quite the same edge to it with its indiscriminate gross-out, and the chug-reppin “I’m Baby” comes a little close to Poppy’s cardinal sin of aping metal conventions beyond the scope of irony, but three for five ain’t a bad hit ratio for this kind of memeage.
While it’s a great relief that Lil Mariko has finally bestowed unto us a collection of multiple songs that can be heard in a presequenced order, Lil Mariko
of my reservations that she was never cut out for this kind of release to begin with. In all its sixteen-minute glory, it’s too exhausting to recapture that magnetic replay-this-seventy-times-immediately quality that made her standalone cuts so sensational. Lil Mariko’s schtick is forceful and funny enough to have mileage, but she has a way to go when it comes to shifting stances as creatively as the acts she’s been associated with directly (Dorian Electra) or indirectly (100 gecs). As it is, Lil Mariko
left me torn between the most depraved kind of satisfaction and an entitled find-new-ways-to-entertain-me armchair stance; neither the best nor worst final impression. There’s a certain story-so-far-ism in the way it wraps up her style, but the release doesn’t feel like any kind of end point; it’s a momentarily overwhelming promise of further thrills, and a cautionary, though hardly fatal, reminder of violent novelty’s fickle staying power. Is the best yet to come, or are “Where’s My Juul??” and “Shiny” as good as it gets? Who knows. I’m as uncomfortable as ever waiting for whatever the hell happens next - and that’s the most important thing.