Kitty abandons "white girl rapper" status on 'D.A.I.S.Y. Rage' EP
It’s a simple yet easily forgotten truth: All rap is not created equal. While those who raise their lighters at a Lynyrd Skynyrd show would cringe at the thought of their beloved Southern rock pioneers being lumped in with more independent rock like The Black Keys, it’s as equally baffling and unfair to categorize most hip-hop and rap into the same overarching sub-genres.
Trap rap, alternative hip-hop, hyphy and Southern rap, among others, have been set into neat little boxes in the canon of rap.
For Floridian rapper Kitty (née Pryde), this is not the case. She seems to be special, as are most white female rappers: Their gender and ethnic background are the determining factors in their categorization.
When Kitty first came to light in 2012 with her haha im sorry mixtape, her bubbling, free-form style puzzled and infuriated critics and purists alike. Just prior to Kitty’s debut was the rise of Australian model and rapper Iggy Azalea, whose T.I.-produced vitriol and Southern cadence drew swift references to Lil’ Kim’s acidic flow, gender similarities aside.
In the same vein, K.Flay, as underground as she is, garnered her cult status with a “better than the boys” approach. Her five EPs, spread out over just two years, grew better in terms of production value and rap technique.
Then along came Kitty. It’s not the fact that she’s a white, female rapper who’s supposedly 19 years old.
It’s her heart-on-her-sleeve approach and artist’s eye for suburban obscurities that made haha im sorry such a set of relatable songs. Upon first listen, it was difficult to tell if Kitty was trolling the rap world or setting out on something else entirely, conscious or not.
On the D.A.I.S.Y. Rage EP, however, there’s no mistaking that Kitty is coming full force at the listener, if not full circle. Her own brand of tranced-out, dream-like production and languid flow has become something of a trademark. Her employment of pop culture references is only rivaled by Childish Gambino, a compliment unto itself.
Lead single “Dead Island” poses Kitty’s lilting sarcasm over layered noise samples held together by a marching band snare drum. The ever self-aware rapper proclaims “I love N.Y. because there’s so many bridges to jump off / the backyards where you get dumped off,” among other vicious, self-deprecating lines.
It’s the most appropriate single on D.A.I.S.Y. Rage because it unveils Kitty’s acerbic wit combined with her newfound confidence in her flow. The about-to-go-viral “R.R.E.A.M.” is just as infectious and awkward while acting as a tongue-in-cheek, antithetical ode to the hustling theme that is the Wu-Tang Clan classic.
Even Kitty’s guest verse on Le1f’s “Pocahontas,” has a specific pace that feels exquisitely calculated. Her whispery aesthetic is both her signature and her punctuation on both this verse and D.A.I.S.Y. Rage as a whole.
Call Kitty anything but a white, female rapper, and leave out the Tumblrcore and bedroom rap references: Where she’s come from, where she was produced and whatever her melanin concentration is should have no influence on her singular approach. What that approach is, however, has yet to be decided, but it’s working, and it’s nothing short of open-hearted brilliance.