FEATURE: Kid Sister, Color Me Bad
During Kid Sister’s first national TV performance (November 13), late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon referred to the Chicagoan as a “rapper.” While not entirely a misnomer, Kid Sister's not quite a rhyme slinger with the raunchy repertoire of say a Nicki Minaj. With electronica music being the throbbing backdrop for her recently released debut Ultraviolet, she comes across as an entirely different breed of hip-hop artist, one that may just be redefining the very concept of what hip-hop is.
Chalk it up her social network as much as her eclectic musical tastes. After all, she came from being the flagship artist on DJ A-Trak's Fool's Gold label with the Kanye West-guested “Pro Nails” to a major label deal with Universal Republic in a few short years. With a sound that doesn't land itself to pigeonholing (read: tough to market), Kid Sister was halfway done with her debut project when she decided to scrap it and start from scratch. Ultraviolet is the result, with the radio- and club-friendly "Right Hand Hi" leading the way as the first single. Shortly before jetting off to London to promote her record abroad, Kid Sister shared some ear time with XXLMag.com to discuss her music, ice and old school influences.
XXLMag.com: It’s pretty rare that an artist pushes back her own album. What was the driving reason behind that?
Kid Sister: We had to change it. There was no clear direction on it. It was just necessary to sharpen our focus. Prior to me being signed, I would write a song every couple of months, jump up on the couch and spit it at one of my brother's parties. There was no goal, like, “Okay I'm working on an album,” because I wasn't even signed. I wasn't thinking about an album, I was thinking about getting crazy and partying at these warehouse parties. It wasn't some big corporate project. So that's why I say what we do is more innovative.
XXLMag.com: Can you clarify your label situation with regards to Fool's Gold, Downtown and Universal Republic?
Kid Sister: I'm not technically on Fool's Gold. I was their flagship artist and I guess I am [still] their flagship artist [but] we never signed [anything with them]. It was so early back then. Fool's Gold is now an imprint on Downtown. As far as creative things, like the A&R process, Fool's Gold is at the forefront of that for my project. So I work with Nick Catchdubs and A-Trak and we were at the helm of the ship, steering it. It wasn't Downtown that was doing that. Then I signed to Downtown after we started Fool's Gold. I also have a two-record deal with Universal Republic, which is pretty new.
XXLMag.com: Why was "Right Hand Hi" chosen as the single to push your album?
Kid Sister: It was everybody's favorite. We picked, it wasn't the label. I played it for my brother and he was like, that's your single. When we’re playing our little shows at the club or these little warehouse parties, we want what we play to blow people's faces off, and that's the song that did it.
XXLMag.com: Famed jeweler Ben Baller tweeted he gave you some ice to rock for the Jimmy Fallon performance. What did he give you?
Kid Sister: He gave me like seven pieces. There was a Jesus piece, a skateboard, a Chicago White Sox one—I had to represent, you know—and a teddy bear. He also gave me a black diamond G-Shock, my brother wore that one.
XXLMag.com: So it’s fair to say you're heavy into jewelry and accessories?
Kid Sister: I kind of did it as a joke. You always see rappers with big pieces, so, I was like, “What if I wear six pieces with a really girlie outfit?” No girl has ever done that, so I took it upon myself to make that move.
XXLMag.com: Speaking of girls and how they're represented. There are only a few female MCs beside yourself that are hip-hop. Only Nicki Minaj really comes to mind...
Kid Sister: Right, but I'm not really hip-hop. I'm a blending of hip-hop and electronic music so what I do and what she does is pretty different. It's under a blanket of pop music, though, for sure.
XXLMag.com: So, is that how you would define your lane, pop music?
Kid Sister: No, not like that all. It's a little more sophisticated than that, I think. Without sounding like I'm braggin’ or like I'm haughty or heady, it's not that different from what they do but we just do it in a little more sophisticated, innovative way.
XXLMag.com: So which artists did you grow up listening to that influenced your sound?
Kid Sister: I grew up in Chicago and grew up listening to Cashmere. He's the one who did "Percolator," "He Got Me Up," "Rider Days." I listen to Jamie Principle, Paul Johnston, Marko Maria, all these house dudes. But I also listened to Do Or Die, Psycho Drama, Consequence, Tung Twista, Crucial Conflict.
XXLMag.com: In other words, Chicago's hip-hop scene?
Kid Sister: Not only [artists] from Chicago. I listened to Bone and good hip-hop that was on the radio. I dated this graffiti writer in high school who listened to Capone-N-Noreaga and Mobb Deep. I listened to a little bit of that too, so I'm well rounded, I think. As far as popular music, I kept a well-rounded library. And that's really what influences me today, it's house music from Chicago and hip-hop. —Slav Kandyba