Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Kristine Flaherty, or K. Flay as she's known professionally, has self-loathing down to a science. This isn't to say that she hates herself. Well, maybe she does a little bit. It's more that she's delivering the classic piece of hurtful scolding that comes from a parent to a child, when they say, "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed." The rapper and producer knows precisely how to make it hurt and she's great at hurting herself the better than anyone else ever could. She's kind of a masochist about it. Her method is to rub salt into her own, self-inflicted wounds, actually preferring to massage that salt into the gashes, making the hurt more intense. They are the kinds of wounds that seem as if they could easily be conquered, but they aren't. They are the kinds that gnaw at a person. They are the kinds that make you somewhat despondent and numb.
Flaherty though is nimble with her tales, able to build them into these short notes from the mind of a dual hypochondriac and smart ass. They can sound like the morning after tales of a club girl who is not getting the kind of fun out of clubbing that one should be getting just on definition. She cites the mornings where she's "hung over as fuck" and she's waiting around for her roommates to wake up so she can make noise, make a little breakfast for herself cause she can't think of anything else that she might want to be doing right then and there. It's like she feels a little dead inside, a little lost. The hypochondriac part of her personality speaks to another side of her personality, perhaps one that doesn't think that she's doing such a bad job moving around and interacting with others. It's the other part of her that somehow doesn't fault herself for all of the depressing episodes that she's brought on and she'd like to keep trying. It reminds me of an answer that Jimmy Carter gave in a Time magazine interview, where his strong religious beliefs were asked about, in terms of his mortality, or time here on Earth. The interviewer was curious if the former president was actually excited to die because of what he believed would be waiting for him in the afterlife. He responded by saying, "I'm not looking forward to it. I don't fear it, though. I would rather stay alive and well as long as I can. I have an adventurous life." The self that she portrays in her songs is one who will mention that the only time that she's not depressed is when she's sleeping, but it's the same woman who went to the doctor with a fear of everything fading to black and the doctor not helping matters by telling her that, no matter what she does, she's going to die someday. It sure is a shit way to think about things and it calls into question that doctor's bedside manner, even if the patient wasn't necessarily on her deathbed.
*Essay originally published February, 2012