In the days before a certain Mr Kanye West was better known for his ludicrous blog and upsetting teen country stars, he was far too busy bigging up his protÃ©gÃ©s in the manner of a mid 90’s rapper to indulge in such nonsense. One such protÃ©gÃ© was a Melissa Young, discovered by West in his hometown of Chicago. The original release of her now signature tune ‘Pro Nails’ was greeted with open arms by the Pitchfork (and its ilk) community, but, in truth, was generally ignored by the Kanye-adoring masses. Three years on, with more money and careful time invested, Young aka Kid Sister‘s debut has been unveiled to slightly more noise. It is, however, a world where the dominion of female rappers quakes in the considerable shadow of M.I.A., and where it will be far easier to fob another female rapper with clear hip-hop and electronica influences off as a copycat.
‘Right Hand Hi’ straight off showcases the clear similarities, all housey opening and brash delivery underpinned by M.I.A.’s signature beats. Thankfully, it is here where the similarities end. Ultraviolet unashamedly showcases Kid Sister as an artist unafraid of where she’s from and where she wants to go, and, minus the political rhetoric of M.I.A. carving out a niche in the ever-growing world of female rap.
While ‘Life on TV’ feels exactly like that, repetitive, cartoonish, and slightly forgettable, all is forgiven as ‘Big n Bad’ kicks in, and throttles the listener around the head with a sly Yazoo sample and sparkling, punchy, bad girl rhymes. Along the same lines is ‘Let Me Bang 2009’, whose meaning is self-explanatory, and which is as fun, smutty and summery as Salt n Pepa at their best.
The most commercial songs are the least interesting in this case, as ‘Pro Nails’ is now-ubiquitous, (but, in a way, still sounds fresh), and ‘Daydreaming’ is Cheryl Cole-esque filler (and which, with three different versions on the album, tests the patience a little). More cheering is ‘You Ain’t Really Down’, which is injected with the essence of early to mid 90s female soul groups (step forward, En Vogue), modernised by spunky beats. Similarly, ‘Control’ busts in with an infectious clapping hook and a bouncing electronica melody, breaking away from the nods to her predecessors which do risk becoming tedious after a while.
Aside from the prerequisite guest artists, it’s highly refreshing to see any fledgling artist from the West stable break out on their own and not entirely rely on the big man himself for props or kudos. Diverging from the road which many credible female rappers seem to be taking at the moment, respectfully acknowledging her predecessors (Queen Latifah is sampled on ‘Step’), it appears that, intentionally or not, Kid Sister has found a snug spot in the same canon from which she draws. Let’s hope she’s more than just a footnote.