I must confess that I don’t really enjoy the previous music of RuPaul, arguably the world’s most mainstream drag queen in the world at the moment. Her songs feel like typical kitschy-campy throwaway tunes that drag queens release when they need extra money for cosmetics, alcohol, or rent. Still, having enjoyed RuPaul’s Drag Race, especially the last two seasons, I thought I’d show some support and get this album. It’s the least I can do, after all.
What a pleasant surprise that, despite the presence of Lucian Piane as co-producer along with RuPaul, Born Naked is a pleasant mix of dance, pop, and even a hint of gospel. It’s also a bit ironic, considering the recent accusations of transphobia thrown at her way, that RuPaul preaches an all-embracing kind of love in this album. Of course, what one sings needs not to be representative of one’s beliefs, but the beautiful gospel-tinged duet with Martha Wash, Can I Get an Amen?, is all about loving your own self before loving someone else. That’s RuPaul’s catchphrase throughout her reality TV show, and that catchphrase is translated lovingly into this gentle and soothing song.
The rest of the album goes back into familiar dance territory, although they are more mellow here compared to her previous offerings. Let the Music Play, her duet with Michelle Visage, is all about waving a lighter in a club rather than dropping acid and humping everyone indiscriminately. Geronimo tries to turn the dance floor into a “I am going to show the world how amazing I am!” kind of anthem, with RuPaul vowing to “spread my leg like Sharon Stone/To dominate like Al Capone“. The dance floor is also a place for bittersweet declarations of love in Dance with U, where she swears that she’d just go mad if she ever loses her love. Freaky Money, which features Big Freedia, is notable because it’s the only openly lascivious song of the bunch. The rest of the song is all about inspirational messages of love or finding one’s inner strength. However, these songs are all covered with cheese, the biggest issue I have with this album. Let the Music Play is especially embarrassing in this regard.
The best song here is Sissy That Walk. It’s a shockingly good song with a fatal hook, full of attitude and sass, and it also highlights the weaknesses of the other songs in this album. A genuine take-no-prisoners anthem, it feels like a million-dollar song, while the other songs make this album seem like a long audition for Eurovision.
Born Naked, therefore, is a pleasant listen, showcasing a more mellow RuPaul. However, the cheese is still there in liberal amounts, so people with lactose intolerance may want to approach this one with caution.