Party rapper Kid Sister rips up beats (and her voice) for her long-awaited new album
BY: SARAH BERMAN, THE BLOCK MAGAZINE
A little internet hype goes a long way.
Of all the buzzworthy artists floating around the blogosphere, this is especially true for Kid Sister. Within two short years, the Chicago MC went from selling baby clothes and stealing microphones at basement dance parties, to collaborating with Kanye West and performing at Coachella’s main stage. All this—plus a BET award nomination—went down before she released a debut album.
It helps, of course, that Kid Sister (known to former retail coworkers as Melisa Young) is firmly embedded in an already-blossoming music scene. With a boost from her executive producer boyfriend A-Trak and brother Josh “J2K” Young of the DJ duo Flosstradamus, Kid Sis has built a glittering reputation fusing girlie hip hop jams with uptempo house beats. This caught the attention of fellow Chi-towner West, who dropped a verse on her single “Pro Nails” in 2007. The bouncy ode to rhinestone manicures appeared on a web-released Kanye mixtape, skyrocketing Young into cult internet fame.
Young’s industry connections extend well beyond her bro and her beau. Names like Xxxchange, Sinden, DJ Gant-Man, Estelle and Cee-Lo all appear on her much-anticipated record Ultraviolet, which hit shelves in November 2009. “Everyone is a friend, so it was just a really pleasant experience from beginning to end,” she says of the lengthy recording process. “We’re our own society. Like a nice little utopia.”
While signed with Downtown Records, her album was originally titled Dream Date, and set for release in early 2008. Feeling rushed, Young opted to push back deadlines, axe three songs, and record five new tracks. The end result is a glossy 40 minutes of 80s and 90s nostalgia, amped up on DJ effects and punctuated by swaggering, cheeky rhymes. Though the styles differ from the trancey electro-banger “Right Hand Hi” to the Salt N Pepa-inspired pop hooks of “You Ain’t Really Down,” an overarching theme emerges: Kid Sis likes to party.
And party she does. With the help of a steady Red Bull supply, Young has played back-to-back shows for months at a time, causing dancefloor mayhem across North America. Reached at a hotel in Columbia, Missouri, Young’s voice sounds coated in wax paper. “It’s a lot of screaming,” she says. “I feel great, it’s just my voice that sucks.” A semi-addicted Twitter enthusiast, one of Young’s updates reads: “Never done my set this many times in a row. Feel like KidSisBot 2000.”
Though she is often praised for her genre-bending tendencies, Young says the mashed-up textures on Ultraviolet are less of a conscious effort, and more of an accidental process. “It’s not an intentional thing. We play around and I just say, ‘I like that. I don’t like that. Like that, don’t like that.’ We redid the album to make everything uptempo, but it doesn’t need to fit one particular aesthetic.”
“It was all made by our friends,” she adds. “Luckily our friends make good music.”
With a breakneck press schedule and plans to tour Europe and Australia on her calendar, Young shows no signs of slowing down. But if given the chance to unwind, Kid Sis hopes to hang around her hometown. “When I’m home I like to go bowling and roller skating. And I like to see movies.” A film major hailing from Columbia College, Young’s latest Hollywood obsession is Lee Daniels’ Precious, which she boasts about seeing three times before its release. “Mo’Nique just kills it,” she gushes. “And Mariah Carey, man. All that bullshit from that movie Glitter—you can just forget about all about that.”
Published June 2010.