If history has proved anything, its metal artists aren’t truly metal until they have done something so downright audacious that it becomes a part of their lore—if not a selling point for their music. Ozzy Osbourne has not only bit the head off two bats but snorted a line of ants. Burzum burned down a church. Deafheaven became hipster’s favorite black metal band before slowly shifting to shoegaze. Babymetal! (That’s it. Just Babymetal.) That begs the question: what has Cinnamon Babe, known to most as Stormi Maya, done that is so metal?
Well, she is a Black female sex worker who knows her worth and power as one. Additionally, she is willing to speak out loud, unapologetically, about the treatment of women in general—not just the treatment of sex workers. If the constant comments coming her way from male metalheads and Black misogynists alike say anything, it’s that Maya got Varg beat on this one. But she doesn’t stop there.
Maya takes it the extra mile when she boldly declares, “Rock n’ roll is Black,” causing multiple metalheads to stammer collectively in a fit of white rage. By then, the only people who haven’t come for her head so far are the ladies who feel a sense of empowerment from Maya’s shenanigans. So, if Fatherless is a middle finger to the misogynists who want her gone, it also doubles as a fiery collection of songs for women scorned and abused throughout their lifetimes.
To say this album came at a good time—as we live in a post-Trump country where the treatment of women has, if not gotten worse, gotten more public with time—is an understatement. And if Maya does anything more, it is employing her duality as a means to both attract and intimidate. What better way to ensnare one’s prey than with a trap beat? Lulling you into a false sense of security, the most carnivalesque trap beat opens on “Bad Dog,” and just when fuckboys thought they were safe, in comes the lioness Maya herself to roar you out of your baby blue suit and dress pants.
“So, you wanna see a BITCH!?” Maya roars to the men loud and powerful enough to frighten the same expecting. The whole song declares that Maya is not a containable character nor certainly not to be stuffed into a box of people’s expectations. As we speak, plenty of men have stumbled into her comments, judging her looks and her ability to scream, but Maya may as well have broken their pride when declaring that she “won’t obey.”
En route, Maya tackles her mental issues with the Kittie-like mud-stomper, “Typecast,” and lets a man know she isn’t afraid to smash up an abuser’s life at any time with “Gaslight.” She isn’t alone as she finds allyship in fairy metal chanteuse and misogynist’s worst nightmare Banshee to eviscerate predators on “Loose” and OTEP to dream of the kind of male privilege that they could not afford on “The Man.” And when OTEP comes in, she comes roaring and ready to swing with Maya. To briefly describe Fatherless, it is an audio baseball bat through one’s windshield.
While you can argue this album was written for a specific non-men-scorned demographic, the intensity and acid-laced honesty put here should satisfy anyone who enjoyed the nu-metal trend of the 2000s; think Coal Chamber and Mudvayne. It’s a feral, bloodthirsty, unapologetically audacious album—if not one of the most audacious released this year. By being a black female sex worker, which would socially deem her three times the social target for patriarchal hatred due to standards of white supremacy, she gives a powerful voice to many of those like her, and you can’t help but feel like Fatherless is just Cinnamon Babe getting started.
Suddenly, eating bat heads just feels passé now.