I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH RENEÉ RAPP — A BOOK OF MAGAZINE (2024)

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By: Clara Seely-Katz In an age where anyone can upload their music to YouTube or Soundcloud, the pop genre is oversaturated with choices, and it's easy for a voice to get lost. Reneé Rapp, however, demands to be heard. The reason why I believe Rapp stands out from the pack as an honest and true voice of Gen-Z is the nature of her lyrics. They curl with anger. The words themselves seethe and bite. She pulls no punches. Rapp isn’t trying to placate older generations with politeness and acceptance of the sh*t show we were all born into; she is f*cking pissed. was ten years old when I realizedSome goodbyes are foreverSo what's that mean for you and I?I thought we'd always be togetherHow can the person who taught me to breatheTake their last breath right in front of me?I know too much nowI wish I could still see the world through those eyesCould still see the colors, but they're not as clear or as brightOh, the older we get, the colors they changeYeah, hair turns to gray, but the blue's here to staySo I wish, I wishI remember seeing my dad cryFor the first time, we were downstairsTalkin' 'bout how his dad diedAnd how he wished he could've been thereHe said, "How could the person who taught me to breatheTake their last breath not in front of me?"I know too much now I wish I could still see the world through those eyesI still see the colors, but they're not as clear or as brightOh, the older we get, the colors they changeYeah, hair turns to gray but the blue stays the sameOh, I wish, I wishStay a little longerI'm not ready for you to goIt hasn't even happenedBut I have been mourning since ten years oldStay a little longerI wish I could still see the world through those eyesCould still see the colors, but they're not as clear or as brightOh, the older we get, the colors they changeYeah, hair turns to gray but the blue's here to staySo I wish, I wish — Reneé Rapp, I Wish — Snow Angel

By: Clara Seely-Katz

In an age where anyone can upload their music to YouTube or Soundcloud, the pop genre is oversaturated with choices, and it's easy for a voice to get lost. Reneé Rapp, however, demands to be heard. The reason why I believe Rapp stands out from the pack as an honest and true voice of Gen-Z is the nature of her lyrics. They curl with anger. The words themselves seethe and bite. She pulls no punches. Rapp isn’t trying to placate older generations with politeness and acceptance of the sh*t show we were all born into; she is f*cking pissed.

Hearing that kind of feminine rage in pop is so freeing, especially when historically, the only rage we’ve been allowed is cis-male rage at how emotionally constipated they have become or how their lover wronged them (I’m looking at you, Timberlake). In a society that is all about capitalist ideas of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, eating sh*t, and doing your time, Gen-Z is not having it. Because of that, we are called naïve, rude, and entitled – all things Rapp herself has been called by members of the older generations. But we should be entitled to a better life than this: a healthier world, more cohesive communities, affordable costs of living, and happiness. We are f*cking entitled to joy, all of us, and since we’ve been denied that joy so often and so much, we do what we can. We rage.

I’ve been a Reneé Rapp admirer for quite some time now, but what really sparked my full-out fangirling was her song “Talk Too Much” on her most recent album, Snow Angel. As an anxious young adult, I relate to her ramblings, her second-guessing, and then second-guessing the initial second-guessing. However, the part of the song that made me feel like a bit of the weight on my shoulders was lifted was when she screamed at the end, “Just shut the f*ck up!” So simple, shut the f*ck up. Used time and time again, yet in this song, I feel like it was uniquely to great effect. Contrary to those who think that art must always be complex to be meaningful, sometimes, screaming for someone to shut the f*ck up is the most liberating thing you have. We don’t all have the ability to write prose about how we feel or pay for wellness retreats. Sometimes, all you have is the old faithful: screaming expletives.

I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH RENEÉ RAPP — A BOOK OF MAGAZINE (1)

I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH RENEÉ RAPP — A BOOK OF MAGAZINE (2)

I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH RENEÉ RAPP — A BOOK OF MAGAZINE (3)

Whether you’re shouting at an oppressive system, someone else, into the void, or at your very own overthinking brain that has been conditioned by a white cis-het patriarchal society for years to doubt itself and belittle itself, just screaming for it to stop can feel like the most comforting thing in the world. Listening to Rapp’s music is like breaking fine dinnerware and flipping off the gross guy who catcalls you. It’s like sobbing on the bathroom floor and then getting up an hour later to watch a movie in bed with your closest friends, eating snacks.

In rage, however, there is always sorrow and grief. Grief is painted across the entirety of Snow Angel; it oozes out of the moments of rage and moments of levity. It's always there. In “I Wish,” Rapp says, “I’m not ready for you to go / It hasn’t even happened/, But I’ve been mourning since ten years old.” This kind of grief, the grieving of things that haven’t happened yet but will, the inability to live in the present moment because the enormity of the eventual pain is so consuming, is incredibly characteristic of the Gen-Z experience. We were born into the world disillusioned, or at least, many of us were. The grief we feel is not just for things lost but for things that we will eventually lose. Our loved ones, the planet, our sanity. How do you hold all of the grief of the world, of things that have happened and things yet to come, and not break? You don’t, you break.

My peers and I are rife with anxiety and depression, riddled with fears, and incapacitated by thoughts of the future. Plus, because of generations of the “American dream”—of isolated nuclear family units—we are at a loss for how to create and foster community, how to not feel completely and totally alone. Loneliness amplifies grief. Without community, we cannot cope. We are a social species. It makes sense that we all have to numb ourselves because we feel so completely un-held by a society that has wandered far from love and community in the name of power and wealth. Our parents and their parents were traumatized by abuse, famine, and war, a trauma that has been passed down in spades with no map for how to cope. And, as young adults, all of that is amplified. We are belittled, our pain sidelined because the generations before had to choke on theirs. Sadness and rage go hand in hand. We grieve and scream; we listen to Reneé Rapp.

Reneé has been under fire recently with the scrutiny of the world—especially the older generations—on her. There have been articles about her looks, her mannerisms, and the fact that she joked about hating older people (same, though). The negativity feels not only pointed but also personal. Rapp is an angry bitch, and rightfully so, and that scares the sh*t out of people who drown in their grief and don’t let it out.

We need more artists like Rapp. Some may call her “messy,” which may be right, but I see it as free, or at least attempting to be, which is always a messy path to take in such a stifled society. I hope she never folds. Being an artist who is constantly criticized and chastised for rightfully being loud and taking up space is a lot for one person to hold, but I hope she knows that there are a lot of us messy bitches rooting for her, feeling seen in her music, and hoping she has the strength to continue on. We all have a lot of grief to hold, but we aren’t alone; let Rapp hold some of it for you through her music; let me hold some, too. I believe this is the generation that will come together out of will or necessity. It is yet to be seen, but we will form a community. We will grieve and rage together, and then we will finally feel just a little more free. And then we’ll eat some snacks and watch movies.

was ten years old when I realized
Some goodbyes are forever
So what's that mean for you and I?
I thought we'd always be together

How can the person who taught me to breathe
Take their last breath right in front of me?
I know too much now

I wish I could still see the world through those eyes
Could still see the colors, but they're not as clear or as bright
Oh, the older we get, the colors they change
Yeah, hair turns to gray, but the blue's here to stay
So I wish, I wish

I remember seeing my dad cry
For the first time, we were downstairs
Talkin' 'bout how his dad died
And how he wished he could've been there

He said, "How could the person who taught me to breathe
Take their last breath not in front of me?"
I know too much now


I wish I could still see the world through those eyes
I still see the colors, but they're not as clear or as bright
Oh, the older we get, the colors they change
Yeah, hair turns to gray but the blue stays the same
Oh, I wish, I wish

Stay a little longer
I'm not ready for you to go
It hasn't even happened
But I have been mourning since ten years old
Stay a little longer

I wish I could still see the world through those eyes
Could still see the colors, but they're not as clear or as bright
Oh, the older we get, the colors they change
Yeah, hair turns to gray but the blue's here to stay
So I wish, I wish

— Reneé Rapp, I Wish — Snow Angel

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ART

Clara Seely-Katz

Renee Rapp, Music Review, Snow Angel

I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH RENEÉ RAPP — A BOOK OF MAGAZINE (2024)
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