London-based rapper and producer Kay Young has followed up her politically charged “Change” and last year’s Middle Matters EP. The song is called “White Teeth” and she says:
“White Teeth is a bittersweet song. I wanted the listener to see the world through the eyes of an innocent child who is yet to face adversity simply for the colour of their skin.”
“Bittersweet” is exactly the word. Over a perfectly chosen soul sample and boom-bap backing, Kay switches between the unbridled positivity of a young Black girl with her whole life ahead and the world at her feet, and those more weathered, knowing looks of her parents.
She begins in a more sober tone as she recalls her mother warning her to behave in school and not stick out for the wrong reasons, then flips to a playful higher register as she steps into her childhood shoes to ask innocent questions like “mummy I’ll be ok, what’s not to like about me?”, and, even more heartbreakingly declares “I got super powers mummy.” She sees the brightness of her “White Teeth” as a positive, something that makes her stand out – pushing aside society’s inherent prejudices in favour of personal esteem. And there’s a hope in it all; a feeling that perhaps Kay’s young protagonist is right, that her Blackness will indeed guide her to a fulfilling life, that the world might be changing, and pride in her heritage and her appearance will help lead her to life of happiness and fulfilment. “Check my teeth / I’ma shine, I’ma shine, I’ma shine” she repeats with unbridled positivity – an intoxicating and infectious dose of pure and bright promise.