Even though she is a waifish, red-haired white chick from Daytona Beach, Fla., Kitty may be the realest rapper out there.
“I appreciate that,” says Kitty herself, 20, calling from Los Angeles. “That’s my favorite compliment.”
While it has pretty much become general practice for rappers to get a bit creative and pepper their rhymes with embellishments to make them sound more ghetto fabulous than they are, this nonchalant-rhyming, Tumblr-blogging MC (government name: Kathryn Beckwith) basically raps about what she knows – like neurotically pining for a boy and taking Benadryl for her rashes.
“I mean, rap started from people talking about their lives,” she says. “And, now, it’s like people talking about unrealistic lives, that normal, suburban kids who are listening to it, like, don’t know – like, nobody drives a Bugatti, you know what I mean. I like to keep my songs realistic, and I don’t ever really talk about (stuff) that’s not real and definitely embellished.”
Originally a member of the all-female hip-hop group Jokers in Trousers, Kitty soon branched out on her own, where the videos for her songs “Okay Cupid” and “Orion’s Belt” (featuring guest vocals from Riff Raff) became heavily viewed viral hits. She originally called herself Kitty Pryde, but since the name also belongs to a character from the “X-Men” comic books, she shortened her name before any cease-and-desist letters from Marvel showed up in her mailbox.
While she looks like the kind of gal who would bump Taylor Swift out of her earbuds (she has referred to herself as the “rap-game Taylor Swift”), she has some legitimate hip-hop influences, which can obviously be heard in her music. “I started out, like, really loving J Dilla, MF Doom and Madlib and stuff like that,” she says. “When I learned more about what was going on, like, on the Internet, and the underground hip-hop scene was kind of changing a lot as I started rapping more … My tastes are eclectic, so I like my beats to reflect that.”
With her tunes appealing more to today’s rap audience – usually young white girls – than most of the rap music that’s out there, the music media were ready to find a way to peg her distinctive rap style.
“I don’t like the whole need to categorize every single type of music,” she says. “Like, I feel like music is more fluid than the genres that people try to create. And since people have to categorize things and label things, they just make stupid (stuff) up when they can’t think of anything else to, like, call it. They’re like, ‘Well, I don’t want to call it hip-hop, so I need to think up a new term. But I don’t know what. Oh, she has a Tumblr – let’s call her ‘Tumblr-wave.’ Like, she’s a white girl – let’s call her ‘white girl-core.’ Like, it’s just dumb. I don’t know why it can’t just be hip-hop.”
Earlier this year, she hit the road with rapper Danny Brown, opening up for him on his “Old and Reckless” tour. While she doesn’t want to talk about the incident where Brown had a sexual encounter with an audience member during a performance (Kitty later defended her tour mate in a post on Vice’s Noisey blog, claiming he was sexually assaulted), she says the rapper became her closest mentor.
Now that she’s out on tour with indie-rock band Anamanaguchi (they’ll both be playing at Kings on Wednesday), Kitty says she’s gotten more confident in her opening-act routine. “Opening is about getting people to know you, introducing yourself to people,” she says. “So, I think that my shows have changed a lot because instead of me expecting everyone to already be totally down, I’m more like, OK, this is what I’m doing.”
Now living in New York, she’s finally working on her full-length debut. So it appears that this Kitty hasn’t even begun to scratch the real-rap surface.