KID SISTER with JOKERS OF THE SCENE and NASTY NAV at Wrongbar (1279 Queen West), Friday (January 11). $15 advance. Rating: NNNNN
It was just over a year ago that Chicago’s Kid Sister (aka Melisa Young) played her first Toronto show, at a packed and sweaty loft party where she stood on top of a speaker cabinet due to the lack of a stage and struggled to make her verses heard through the blaring makeshift sound system.
“That was a crazy show, one of my first big ones,” Young recalls as she rushes around town shopping. “Well, maybe not really big, but where there was a line wrapped around the building, and it was all insane.”
Since then, her career has gone gangbusters. Kanye West dropped a verse and appeared in the video for her Pro Nails single, which has been massive on the Internet and has translated into mainstream radio and MTV play, although Young has yet to actually see the low-budget bling-hop clip on TV.
“You don’t have cable either? I was poor for too long, so now I’m still acting poor. I just don’t know what it means to be able to spend money and not feel bad about it.
“It’s been getting play on MTV and on major radio, which is what I really want, because no one I know has cable.”
Considering that it was the underground hipster scene that first gave her love (partly because Flosstradamus’s J2K is her younger brother), it’s surprising how at ease she is with her sudden crossover into mainstream culture.
“That doesn’t weird me out, because that’s what I’m going for, and that’s where I come from.
“In Grade 6 I left Catholic school and went to a school that was really ghetto. ‘White flight’ was going on at the time, and all the white people were leaving because of the black people who were moving in. My father is black and my mother is white, so I was sandwiched between these nerdy white kids and these ghetto black kids from the city, and we were all doing musical theatre together.
“I want that mixing to become more mainstream and to be accepted as the norm.”
Young’s MySpace page describes her sound as club rap, which is as good a term as any for the uptempo urban sounds that have been infiltrating the indie music nerd scene as well as mainstream clubs for the past few years. Take some booty house, some Baltimore club, some electro and throw some hiphop over top.
Don’t expect politics or treatises on the death of hiphop: this is party music. While it may come from the underground and currently exists mainly on hard drives and Web pages rather than on records, it’s also right at that breaking point where you can expect many of next year’s top-40 hits to be lifting Bmore beats and booty bass.
Of course, that also means that by spring you can expect the music blog brigade to be crying sellout, a term that means little to Young, who still has her day job selling baby clothes between tours.
“I’ve pretty much quit, but not just yet, because I still want to be able to work there when I want. What if music doesn’t work out?
“I’m having fun doing what I’m doing, and if I can get paid for it, well, hello? I’m having a great time without compromising any of my beliefs. I paid a lot of money to go to college and didn’t make anything off that, so I’m going to hustle, because I come from a family of hustlers.
“I have a film degree and tried to get a job in that industry, but all I could get was reality shit. Then I tried to get a desk job and couldn’t because I didn’t have any skills, so I ended up working three jobs and biking to work in the snow.
“If I can get paid for this, there’s no way I’m going back to homeless men trying to get their freak on with me while I’m riding my bike through -20° weather. Not a good look for me.”
Video for Pro Nails, featuring Kanye West.