Chicago Drive-In
Pavement Entertainment

Kid Sister interview

| December 4, 2009 | 0 Comments

Coming Unstuck

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“If you put out good music, it doesn’t matter when you put it out. It’s gonna get buzz, it’s gonna get what it needs to get. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to ride on the tails of some whatever — if you make sure that what you do is consistently excellent, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Click here to read Jaime de’Medici’s live review!

So says Melisa Young, otherwise known as long-simmering, hip-hop “it girl” Kid Sister, who came up alongside hometown heroes and DJ duo Flosstradamus, rapping at the outfit’s mid-decade Get Out The Hood residency in Wrigleyville’s Town Hall Pub. (Kid Sis is actually the older sister of Floss’ Josh “J2K” Young). She’s the same Kid Sister who suddenly caught national attention when Kanye West contributed a verse to her blog-hit “Pro Nails” in 2007. She’s also the same Kid Sister who not only performed mainstage at last year’s Lollapalooza, but who made the cover of URB with Floss in 2007 and solo in 2008.

All without the Chicago MC even releasing an album.

A Downtown Records signee, Young halted the release of a previous draft of her record to pursue a product that more met her standards. (Earlier this year she told Pitchfork, “I need to make something I’m proud of.”) The saga finally ended November 17th, when the plastic wrap came off Ultraviolet. When asked if she ever felt any pressure to rush the album in light of ever-blinding exposure, the rapper is surprisingly nonchalant.

“I’ve never done this before, so it’s not like I knew that’s how it had to go,” she explains. “I mean, I just did things at a comfortable pace, because who cares? I just look at it like it’s not a business for me, I’m an artist. I’m not a businessperson.”

Yet even if Young wasn’t stressing, her fans were a different story. The frenzy behind the eagerly awaited Ultraviolet has generated the kind of demand most viral marketers would die for. Alongside the album’s fluctuating release date, an identity crisis only further fueled rampant speculation on the state of the M.I.A. (as in P.O.W., not “Galang”) effort. Originally titled Coco B. Ware, the album was later touted online as Dream Date.

“It wasn’t cohesive,” she continues, speaking of the album’s earlier versions. “There were songs that were fast next to songs that were slow, and it was just kind of a mish-mosh. And I wanted to make something a little bit more of a study in acts, rather than, ‘These are just beats that I like, and rapped over.'”

Indeed, Ultraviolet is meticulously sequenced, with tracks often segueing effortlessly into one another. Yet the set exhibits a range of approaches. From the opening notes of natural-born club banger “Right Hand Hi” on, a live-wire electro pulse charges throughout the album, powering dance factory jams (“54321”) and bouncy, beat-driven bubblegum pop (“Life On TV”) alike. Of course, Young herself is the real generator here. From the hyper-juke of “Switchboard” to the sped-up conversational flow of “Step,” she zigzags across tempos and deliveries with ease, switching styles with frenetic urgency without ever coming across jarring. What’s more, Young’s flow displays impressive growth since her earliest Web-released tracks, which the rapper attributes to the adage “practice makes perfect.”

“When you spend any amount of time on anything, you’ll see that you get results,” she states matter-of-factly. “It’s like being in the gym.”

If Ultraviolet is the result of Young working her musical muscles, it’s with good reason. It’s no accident that much of the record sounds eager to dethrone the pandering pap that passes for music on Top 40 radio. Young has taken aim at the current wave of hip-pop dance laze, and is unafraid to make it known.

“When I hear some of these songs, I’m like, ‘Do you think I’m deaf, or retarded?'” Young asks rhetorically. “‘Come on — we can see right through you, so don’t try to pull one over on me.’ That’s how I feel.”

Strong words, but it’d be hard to argue with them, given the tragic state of pop singles these days. For every “Bad Romance” innovation, there’s Kesha doing her best watered-down Radio Disney impersonation of Uffie. Each of Ultraviolet‘s dance-floor juke jams has a pure pop gem that stands out as an undeniable candidate for crossover radio takeover. “Daydreaming,” produced by Brian Kennedy (he of Rihanna’s “Disturbia” and Chris Brown’s “Forever”) is Ultraviolet‘s secret weapon — the song that calls out to hip-hop heads and mall girls alike. The track’s warm and slightly more vulnerable vibe is only made that much more undeniable by a Cee-Lo cameo that works in perfect sync with Young’s pop chops.

“Something like ‘Daydreaming,’ it’s kind of like me bringing my more sensible and innovative flow to a pop-sounding song,” Young describes. “‘Cause you know pop these days, it’s like — they’re trying to go the whole electronic route, too. So why don’t we take one of these big, electronic pop beats, and just totally disrespect it, and get crazy on it, and turn it out? And that’s what I did.”

There’s no denying the electro sound is big pop business right now, but Young looks at it from a different angle, determined to be the one to bring hip-hop into the mix.

“I just think it’s important that this record comes out because it is the one definitive item that you can look at and be like, ‘Oh, O.K. I can put a face to the name — not my face to my name, but you can put a title to, or attach something tangible to this whole electronic hip-hop sensation that seems to have happened,” she describes. “There hasn’t been one definitive album yet to do that, to say, ‘This is what this is, here’s a face for it.’ And that’s what I’m here to do.”

An ambitious objective — yet what with all the Kanye cameos and media buzz, it would be easy to assume Young has let it all go to her head. Not so, says the young MC.

“We just like to have fun, you know how it is. Like in Chicago: We just like to wile out, have a good time. No one’s trying to be too cool for this or too cool for that. It’s just about having a good time, and that’s what I want to bring around the world.”

— Jaime de’Medici

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Category: Features, Monthly

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