Chicago she-rapper Kid Sister’s recently-released debut album, Ultraviolet, is a record crafted explicitly for the dancefloor. But when Sydney Star Observer spoke to Sister, aka 29-year-old Melissa Young, she was in no state to party. Young was sick with H1N1 — yep, swine flu.
Still, the feisty rapper put in an admirably animated effort between coughing fits.
“I’m always perky, but I have H1N1, or whatever the fuck it is. I’m just gonna pretend it’s a regular sinus infection and get over it,” she spluttered.
Those with long memories might remember Kid Sister touring the country as part of the Good Vibrations festival a few years back. At the time, she had one brilliant single out — the Kanye West-featured ode to fake nails and hair, Pro Nails — and a debut album seemed imminent. What took her so long?
“I finished the album, but no one could decide on a single, so we realised there must be something off,” she explained.
“So we went back and re-did it. We took all the mid-tempo songs off there and added more up-tempos.”
Indeed — while Young’s rapid-fire MCing roots the album in hip-hop, she’s collaborated with a variety of dance producers, including Spank Rock, Yuksek and Sinden. But this was no bandwagon jump.
“I’ve always been interested in dance music, ever since I was a kid — even as an 11-year-old I’d sneak into teenage dance clubs using a fake high school ID card. I’d be like, ‘Yeah, my name’s Jennifer Esposito, let’s go with that!’ They’d hold them in this place in Chicago that had laser-tag during the day, then would turn into a big underage club for teenagers during the evenings,” she said.
“It was the best possible place for me to hang out, because it gave me a real appreciation for dance music.”
Ultraviolet features a homage to Young’s musical roots in the form of a faithful cover of Status IV’s 1983 funk classic, You Ain’t Really Down.
“That song is just the gayest thing on there — there’s something so queeny about it,” she laughed. “It was four straight guys singing it originally, but there’s something so flamboyant about it.”
While she may have had an early appreciation for dance and hip-hop, Young harbours something of a dark secret — she actually cut her teeth in the world of musical theatre.
“Oh, yeah! I’m not gonna deny it, I’m gonna go ahead and embrace it,” she cackled.
“Musical theatre, man! Gay folks are not afraid to admit that shit is so much fun. I just loved performing in any incarnation when I was young, and musical theatre was so accepting.
“There were gay kids, straight kids, white kids, Chinese kids — everyone was friends. It was great for me because I am biracial, and it’s important for me to feel that the environment I’m in is accepting of not only me, but of everybody. That’s exactly what I’m striving for now in my own music.”
info: Ultraviolet out now via Downtown. Kid Sister will be touring Australia as part of the Creamfields festival in May.