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Kitty Pryde

Haha, I'm Sorry EP

[Self-released; 2012]

By ; June 20, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Free download here

The rap internet is sentient, and it is insane. For proof, consider the meteoric rise of Kitty Pryde. On an unassuming Wednesday in the middle of May, the relatively unknown Floridian teenager posted the hazy, ephemeral video for the equally hazy and ephemeral “Okay Cupid” to her Tumblr account. Twenty thousand explosions of internet outcry later (two days in human time), Pryde found her picture plastered across half a page in the New York Times as one of the subjects of music scribe Jon Caramanica’s thousand-word treatise on up-and-coming rappers grappling issues of authenticity and identity. How did we get here? Well, Pryde is young, white and female, and the reaction to the new wave of white female rappers has been quick and intense, more tower defense than critical consideration.

It’s an unfortunate turn of events because white women have been rapping for decades, from Debbie Harry eating cars on “Rapture” and Teena Marie’s killer bars on “Square Biz” down through workmanlike indie stalwarts like the Dessa and Eternia. But what set the Kittys and Kreayshawns apart is their relative lack of concern with the strenuous touring schedules, paying of dues and worshipful reverence paid to hip hop history that has been all but demanded of their predecessors. These ladies just dumped tracks on the internet and watched while the internet lost its mind. While Kreayshawn retreated (reportedly to the studio, but who knows?) after her “Gucci Gucci” inspired scores of think pieces and millions of Youtube views, Kitty seems more proactive about seeing where this rap thing takes her. The apologetically titled Haha, I’m Sorry EP is Kitty’s inaugural post-hoopla salvo, and it is charged with all of the winking self-awareness of a kid who just tripped and fell into notoriety.

Haha, I’m Sorry is preternaturally obsessed with picking apart the weirdness of its own existence, but its self-absorption is mainly a function of Kitty’s diary-like take on songwriting. Vice described “Okay Cupid” as “Tumblr-wave,” and the jab actually fits; Kitty’s attention to detail and penchant for confessional lyricism often scan as social media oversharing. But it when it works, it’s because as green as she is on the mic, Kitty’s got an unusual story to tell. Yearning odes to crushes sit right beside self-deprecating swipes at her own suddenly buoyant ambitions as a rapper. Inside of its scant runtime, Haha, I’m Sorry aptly conveys the shock of a life thrown jarringly off its track where our subject inexplicably finds herself hobnobbing with people she’d only ever read about.

The internet makes strange bedfellows, and Kitty has picked up some formidable allies. Haha, I’m Sorry is largely anchored by production from Lil B associate Beautiful Lou, whose gossamer beat construction has been a crucial component of the Bay area’s cloud rap scene. Lou’s faded soundscapes straddle the fence between hip hop and dream pop, setting stretched out vocal samples over gritty drum sounds with druggy results not far removed from the work of Lou’s brother-in-arms Clams Casino. Kitty’s voice lacks the nasally edge of previous Lou collaborators like Lil B and Main Attrakionz, and she tends to sit low in the mix, her breathy affirmations of new love melting into his placid synth washes and giving tracks like “smiledog.jpg” and “Okay Cupid” a faint dreamlike quality. Contributions from producers SELA. and GRANT largely fold into Lou’s aesthetic, but Riff Raff’s bout of batshit free-associative verse on “Orion’s Belt” mixes thing up, as does Kitty’s double-time flow on the Carly Rae Jepsen redux “Give Me Scabies.” But even when Kitty tries, she somehow manages to come off as if she’d just as soon rap as not, and whimsy is a dangerous bedrock for a career.

Can Kitty Pryde rap? Sorta. Yeah. Sure. Does she care about rapping? It doesn’t matter. Is she playing into the “White girl rapping, isn’t it weird?” thing as much as she’s bucking against it? Yep. Is it cultural tourism when she intones “Real trap shit” on a song light years removed from anything resembling the trap? Definitely. Are Haha, I’m Sorry‘s plentiful and remorseless references to Adderall abuse problematic? Yeaaahh. Is it predatory to ponder a slapdash 12-minute EP from a brand spanking new MC who continually suggests she’s terrible at rapping? More than likely. But Kitty Pryde and her peers deserve attention. She is a part of a wave of young rappers who are bravely disinterested in the alpha male primacy that is hip hop’s lingua franca. Whether it results in a monumental genre-wide sea change or a hilariously overly considered historical footnote, like, holy shit, white girl rapping. Isn’t it weird?


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