Ayesha Nicole Smith, or Ayesha Erotica, is a hyperpop artist with a cult following. What sets her apart from similar artists is her crass lyrics and distinct display of personality. But underneath the layers of sass and irreverence, there’s a burning genius. In fact, one could argue that it is in these elements the genius is found.
The song “Yummy” is perhaps one of Ayesha’s most famous hits, best recognized by the bridge where she sings “I do it for the girls and the gays, that's it, the queens and the queers, they be loving my shit”. After that, however, is the line “Yeah shout the fuck out for the girls with the big-ass lips, shout the fuck out for the girls with the big-ass dicks”. This line is a blatant cheer for trans girls, and especially with Ayesha herself being trans, it feels empowering and rebellious. After all, it’s celebrating the things that trans girls have been shamed for, encouraged to conceal. This is part of Ayesha’s ingenuity. She comes across as loud and audacious, and when she has the listener’s attention, she can say whatever she wants.
“Vacation Bible School” is another one of Ayesha’s beloved hits. It tells the story of how Ayesha met a cute boy at vacation Bible school, and was sure she met the love of her life, only to have him ghost her. She describes wondering if Jesus will bring them back together, only to see him at their mall and be ignored by him. In the song, there’s a surprising line of poignancy, where Ayesha admits she will one day blame herself for their relationship failing. Aware she was used, she confesses she “just wanted faithfulness, but you never really wanted my love”. Then, as if aware she revealed too much, she goes back to singing about how it doesn’t really matter because she’s a whore anyways. The perfect balance of raw honesty and vulgarity keeps the song from feeling as if it's trying too hard to be edgy, instead it feels like an honest recounting of the relationship. It’s a perfect example of why listeners are so enthralled with Ayesha Erotica, she keeps it real, even at risk of exposing her own vulnerability.
Because Ayesha is so real, when she gets cocky in her music, it’s more than believable. For this reason, her confidence is not obnoxious but admirable. “Literal Legend”, perhaps her most famous song, is basically Ayesha proclaiming her superiority. “I can give you Paris Hilton, I can give you Janet,” she states, “I can give you Bjork, but I don’t think you’d understand it”. Not only is she every woman, she is every iconic woman. She is beautiful, she is wealthy, she is capable. She may have A-cup tits, but they only elevate her to model status. She is influential, with the ability to declare someone “over”. She is a literal legend, and she is fully aware of it, and by the end of the song, ensures that her listeners don’t doubt her for a second.
In a world where meek women are held as the ideal, Ayesha is close to the opposite of what the music industry finds palatable. She’s loud, crass, doesn’t shy away from talking about blatantly unhealthy habits and hardcore lifestyle, is self-obsessed and -despite the fact these things are often framed as ‘unladylike’, is unapologetically feminine. This is why even after Ayesha Erotica has quit making music, her fans continue to keep her art alive. She gave them what they wanted, what they needed; permission to be as powerful and messed up as they wanted to be. She gave them permission to be loud, say whatever they wanted to, and to be (in their own right), literal legends.