KITTY (formerly known as Kitty Pryde), is a 19-year-old rapper who hails from Daytona Beach, bumps Danny Brown’s XXX on the regular, and isn’t afraid to rep Bandcamp like it’s 2008. Just leave your criticisms at home; she’s aware of what the Internet is, but it’s not the foundation for D.A.I.S.Y Rage, her recent EP that screens detailed Gambino-ish stories alongside Diplo/Twin Sister samples and an early 2000s’ hip hop feel. “It’s unfair when people label me as “a Tumblr rapper” because I don’t really mention or associate with the Internet that much in any of my songs”.
Dig deep and you’ll notice she’s not kidding. Kitty’s built a persona rapping about Justin Bieber and Skrillex, and her odes to opposites like MF DOOM and the Thundercats make her approach to rap feel more like art. It seems silly to go so far with a comparison but didn’t the Beastie Boys write rhymes like “I stole your honey like I stole your bike”? We spoke to Kitty before her set at the annual Mad Decent Super Party in Austin, Texas, and she opened up about her career, her thoughts on SXSW and how a YouTube commenter or a label exec will never change who she is.
Being able to speak freely is a privilege a few take for granted. Is that something you agree with?
I mean yeah, I guess. First of all, I would never changed what I say in my music because I’m being honest.
For the longest time, you didn’t want to reveal your age. Have things been any different since you changed your mind?
It doesn’t affect me as much now, but at first I was worried about people sexualizing me right off the bat so I didn’t want people to know my exact age. Like 18 is kind of the age where people say, “Okay, she’s 18. She’s legal and we’re allowed to say things about her and her body”. I think after the whole initial burst of people being terrible had ended, no one really cared about my age. People still don’t know how old I am. A lot of them still think I’m 15 but like I still can’t get into anything that’s cool so my age doesn’t really matter anyway.
Well you can probably get into anything here.
That’s true! Well, I could in Mexico too (laughs).
You’ve said before that when you originally posted songs on Tumblr and YouTube, you didn’t expect people to listen to it. Retrospectively, are you glad that people did pay attention?
No. Because it was embarrassing. I mean, obviously my whole life was headed in a very different direction before that so I don’t know… I don’t like to think about it because I don’t want to feel bad about anything but I don’t know yet if I’m glad that it happened.
How do you think your image and persona have affected you as a musician?
The fact that I don’t look very old or fit the image of every other female rapper is unique, I guess, because usually they’re really hot. I don’t know… they’re usually just older than I am and the things I say fit my aesthetic more than if I was Iggy Azalea or something because that wouldn’t make sense. I guess it’s easier for people to understand why I’m saying if they see it coming from me – a basic and young teenage girl.
It’s weird because a lot of people see that but they still go to lengths to criticize you about rapping about “Internet culture”.
I don’t think I rap about the Internet that much. I say stuff about Twitter and everything sometimes but it’s unfair when people label me as “a Tumblr rapper” because I don’t really mention or associate with the Internet that much in any of my songs. Others just reference that from the way people found out about me, and I think that’s stupid because at this point, there’s no artist emerging right now that doesn’t have something to do with the Internet. That’s how people discover music. Like I think it’s dumb; these people are finding out about me by using the Internet but they’re also criticizing me for being on the Internet like it’s become some nerdy thing to do (laughs).
Well what you said does make sense. There literally isn’t a new artist that’s not associated with the Internet and SXSW has sort of proved that. Do you think it’s become more about seeing new acts than bands everyone already knows?
Yeah, because when you look at it, a lot of these shows were booked really late and I guess that was because people were trying to decide whether to feature someone big or someone more relevant. It’s also become more hard to gauge who’s relevant right now because the music world moves so quickly, but I’m pretty sure that’s based off the Internet as well. It’s really weird. Everyone wants to go see the big popular bands but I don’t know… there’s not that many anymore. Like here, there’s not that many mainstream artists this year.
(Kitty’s friend says hello – “I thought this was your mom for a second but then I thought it couldn’t be”)
No, I’m not her mom.
My mom looks a lot like you though. Well, when she was really young anyway (laughs).
(Kitty’s friend talks about stuff, says goodbye)
Okay, where were we… I’m not as iPhone savvy as you are so I’m not use to my friend’s phone.
All I do is text. Nothing but texting. But you have a Blackberry, right? I’m jealous.
You’re jealous of a Blackberry?
Yeah! They have the keys!
The keys are essential. Have you had the chance to see any shows since you’ve been at SXSW?
Yesterday, I didn’t have to play a show until late so I did get to check out some during the day. But I was in Mexico and I got stuck while trying to take a bus back to America. That took 13 hours away from me and I didn’t sleep the entire time. I did get to see some of my friend’s showcases, but WHY? have been one of my favourite bands of all-time – and they’re friends of mine too – but I didn’t get to see them because the bouncer wouldn’t let me in.
You said before you’ve never imagined seeing yourself where you are now but in your opinion, what helped you become the person you are today?
I don’t ever want to change who I am. I want to make all my own decisions and I only do what I want to do, and I say whatever I want to say, and I dress however I want to dress. I won’t ever take an opportunity just for money or say, “Yeah, sure! I’ll sign this deal for a million dollars”. I’ve been offered like a lot of really cool-sounding things but I’ve turned them down because I know I wouldn’t be in complete control. I think the fact that I’ve stayed in control of my image and my music, and everything I’ve done so far has worked. I don’t have the success yet that an artist would really want to have but I’m totally cool with that. This is everything I want and I don’t have to answer to anybody.