The Spectrum Of Kid Sister’s Never-Back-Down Musical Persona

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all photos by Robert Kerian

The glamour part of things is something that comes and goes, and I’m down with it, but what’s important to me is music, the art of songwriting…

Flying under the radar among the wave of females-with-attitude MC’s who broke out on the indie hip-hop and dance scenes over the last five years is exactly what Kid Sister prefers. She might not say it outright. Ask her about her music and she’s as serious about pushing it as any marketing department suit. But promoting herself, her slick, rapid-fire skills on the mic, her exotic looks, or her upfront personality just isn’t her style. The kind of frothy self-promotion others embrace seems as much of a drag to Kid Sister as waking up early for a magazine interview.

“Take your time, take your time,” Kid Sister, born Melisa Young, tells me after I finally get her on the phone. I had bad reception where I was at and wanted to scurry to a signal friendly spot before she got too bored with me to chat. As I fidget on the phone, asking for a moment, trying to make small talk as I try and catch my breath, she’s hitting me up with advice like, “Chill out. Patience is a virtue. Trust me.”

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I catch the Chicago-bred Kid Sister in her new home, Los Angeles, where she was wrapping up recording sessions on her anticipated new untitled album due out in early 2012, and recently wrapped up her latest EP “Kiss & Tell,” out on iTunes November 29th via Fool’s Gold Records. I quickly realize “Kiss & Tell” is aptly titled after just a few minutes chatting with her.

It’s kinda like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I didn’t know how to be a professional artist. It was a crash course. It was surreal.

“I don’t hold back. That’s the thing that I think sets me apart as an MC who didn’t want to be looked at like a typical female rapper. The glamour part of things is something that comes and goes, and I’m down with it, but what’s important to me is music, the art of songwriting. Everything else that gets in the way of that I’ve just learned to get over,” she explains.

Kid Sister burst onto the scene in 2007. At the time she was a struggling artist living in Chicago. She began to hit up live shows hosted by DJ duo Flosstradomus, which included her brother DJ J2K (Josh Young). It wasn’t long before she was throwing down her spitfire, smartass rhymes over DJ sets. Small shows turned to sold-out shows and appearances on MTV’s My Block. That led to her recording her first single, “Pro Nails,” a janky, thumpin’ hip-hop track that got scooped up and parleyed by none other than Kanye West. That’s when everything changed for Kid Sister.

“I was riding a bike to my second or third job in the snow. I was living in public housing. It was hood. It was tough. Eating the same shitty food. All I had was this track I had put out. And one night I’m at the movies with a friend. I got this message that A-Trak was spinning “Pro Nails” and mixing it with Kanye’s verse. I’m listening to it on my phone. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t expect it,” She recounts.

I don’t care what cheesy radio stations think of my music. I came up going to warehouse parties, clubs in New York…I go with whatever is on my mind.

“When I started out it was jokes, and jokes, but then it all got serious. It’s kinda like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I didn’t know how to be a professional artist. It was a crash course. It was surreal.”

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After the success of her debut single, she was signed to Downtown Records and put together her first LP, Ultraviolet. That album would cement Kid Sister’s eclectic love of club oriented sounds beyond just hip-hop, as most of her tracks were adorned with house and electro beats still strange to most of the rap music fans she gained with “Pro Nails.” Whether or not people (or radio stations) get her music is not Kid Sister’s concern. Being true to herself and her roots is what she cares about.

“A lot of artists just try to be over the top. They hide what they lack. They embrace the whackness. I’m Midwestern so I tend to be real to who I am without the layer of pretty bullshit. I don’t carry myself like that. I don’t care what cheesy radio stations think of my music. I came up going to warehouse parties, clubs in New York. So I grew up on rap and electronic music. So I go with whatever is on my mind,” she says, “Everybody has had their ups and downs. My music has changed. There’s more to it because there’s more to what I’ve experienced personally in my own life.”

“Kiss & Tell” includes four tracks that span the spectrum of Kid Sister’s jumpy, never-back-down musical persona. “Mickey” a “club workout” with DJ duo Nadastrom, “Hide & Seek” featuring Riff Raff, Sinden and 5kin&Bone5, and Scoop Deville produced “Cliq Claq” and “Gucci Rag Top (Remix),” the latter of which features Danny Brown.

“This EP, and the upcoming album I’m putting out next year is definitely moodier. I’m not as playful. It’s like now I’m really coming out of my shell. So don’t fuck with me kinda music,” she explains, “A lot of the beats have that old school bass inflection. It’s just what I’m feeling right about now. I’m feeling that my music is ready to take to that next level. But I gotta be me.”

Magnetic would like to thank: Photographer: Robert Kerian | Stylist: Denia Skinner | Hair and makeup artist: Emily Rae | Digital retoucher: Angelo Lorenzo | Camera assistant: Doni Ross | Thanks to Julio Hechavarria Jr for the location and another thank you for K just K aka Tank Girl

Flosstradamus feat. Kid Sister "Luuk Out Gurl"