MUSIC

The Rich White Ladies Are Taking Over Summer

MUSIC
Jul 17, 2014 at 7:44 AM ET

Shortly before Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the men’s final at Wimbledon, a video surfaced on the Internet poking fun at the uptight, you’ve-got-to-wear-all-white spectacle. A part-rap, part-pop tribute to the prestigious tournament’s grass courts and all-star athletes, “Wimbledon” features two women frolicking in tennis outfits and rabbit ears, alternating between sipping tea and not really playing tennis.

“You are so bull-bullshit, we are so Wimbledon,” goes the hook, sung by Tokyo Diiva and Scotty Rebel, who together make up the Rich White Ladies. The tennis send-up is the Ladies’ first big hit in more than two years and has already gotten more than 90,000 views on YouTube—putting the duo squarely on the verge of going viral.

By their own admission, the Rich White Ladies are neither rich nor white; the two met some 10 years ago in the Bronx, where both were raised, and it was a night out at a club in 2007 that helped coin their name. Soon after releasing their first record, which they say was a flop, the Ladies were out in Los Angeles when a man approached Tokyo and told her she was “giving rich white lady”—that is, giving off that vibe—and the phrase stuck. Now it serves as inspiration for much of the pair’s music.

“We’re very tongue-in-cheek,” says Tokyo. “Our first record release was when Occupy Wall Street was going on. We weren’t going to let people who had more money than us think they’re better. We’re at the 1 percent of the flyest people.”

This sort of playful jab at wealth and race is a common thread that runs through their previous videos. In 2012, the pair released “One Percent” and “White Powder Perm”—two semi-popular hits in which the Ladies chant lyrics like, “We fly first class, you sweep our suites, and take our trash and kiss our ass cheeks,” and “We’re too fancy for you.”

And “Wimbledon” is a similar display of visual and melodic pokes at money. Before recording the video in May, neither had ever really heard of the major British tennis tournament—often frequented by the royal family—so they conducted in-depth research on tennis stars like Billie Jean King and Monica Seles. “Every time I write verses, I’m on Google,” cites Scotty, who admits that before this summer’s production, she’d never picked up a tennis racket. (Neither had Tokyo.)

Still, consistency and fact checking aren’t necessarily the Ladies’ strong points. In a recent write-up, Paper magazine’s Justin Moran called the pair “the next big thing,” but simultaneously pointed out that their lyrics, such as the refrain “Martina Navratilova, champagne supernova,” make “absolutely no sense.”

To which the Ladies reply: So what? “They just don’t understand what I’m saying because I’m too lyrical,” says Scotty. “I’m a lyrical genius.” Adds Tokyo: “We don’t care if they understand. We understand each other.”

Really, the Ladies don’t care much about perception on the whole—”Every song has a hidden meaning, or five hidden meanings,” says Tokyo—or about trying to insert themselves into any larger musical trajectory. Their closest musical confidants are members of the band Semi Precious Weapons, a New York-based rock group composed of four (actually) white men, whom they cite as co-producers and co-writers. “I identify with huge ’80s rockstars,” says Scotty of her music taste, listing Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar and Joan Jett as some of her favorites.

And yet, despite the Ladies’ attempt to disassociate from of-the-moment pop chanteuses, they care a lot about their legacy and how they fit into today’s pop zeitgeist. In particular, they hope their refrain, “You are so bull, bullshit, we are so Wimbledon,” will become a staple in cultural parlance. “You notice how you watch Mean Girls and hear ‘You can’t sit with us,’ and [you watch] Clueless and hear ‘As if!’?” asks Scotty. “This [refrain] has the same cultural effect.”

“I think we’re the most known-unknown,” adds Tokyo, defining the group’s star power. Which isn’t entirely the truth; the duo continues to cultivate an active fan base on Facebook, and various publications have wondered whether “Wimbledon” might be the song of the summer, ousting what some writers are calling underwhelming summer hits such as Calvin Harris’ “Summer” and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.”

The two guarantee that far-reaching fame will come soon—maybe even next week with the drop of their next song, “Love Is for the Week.” Scotty promises: “We’re planning to take over.”