Nina Cristante is an artist, autodidactic nutritionist, Aquarius and my best friend. Had it not been for a mutual friend linking us during her temporary stay in NYC seven months back, I may’ve never been introduced to the full spectrum of her work. Just a subtle trail of digital breadcrumbs. Slow-mo-promo. A whisper, a wink, a bikini body meme. A deliberately ambiguous website hosting austere at-home workout videos and fragments of clients’ food diaries.
Mongolia, 2010 – A brief preface: Mongolian contains many borrowed words from Russian, Farsi, Arabic and Chinese among many languages. It is also sometimes written in Cyrillic, making it exceptionally cool and really hard to pin down.
“Sanaa Tavi” is a song from a super-hot Mongolian rapper by the easygoing name of Gee. Let’s just say he’ll send a few panda aficionados into a quiver (you know who you are). This track has all the machinations of an obvious gangsta rap video: a cage containing an agitated (jailed?) homeboy, gang signs/tattoos, appropriated hood styling via bandana and XXXX-L tees, etc. On closer inspection, however, the beat and the melody are actually sick. Additionally, we are treated to some obscure vocal sample that suddenly reveals itself when the chorus strikes: it’s from Michael Jackson’s 1996 track, “They Don’t Really Care About Us”. Michael’s video is cued in abruptly and is supplemented with Mongolian subtitles! I had totally forgotten how middle-aged-gay-male-vacationing-in-the-Caribbean Michael looked in this phase of his wardrobe. Look at his plunging, Cosmo-colored, Moroccan blouse and amazing Peace sign t-shirt as two effervescent examples.
This is obviously not the first time a rapper has sampled MJ, but this track is unexpectedly rough for our Queen of Pop’s mid-90s summer repertoire. Regardless, a stunning homage, and one that could not be more random and mesmerizing.