Album Review: Kid Sister – Ultraviolet

Feminism is in full swing these days, and you would be stupid to assume that women are inferior in any way. Rap is, however, one of those untouched frontiers. The statistics in this field speak for themselves — for every Jay-Z, there is not a Missy Elliott. The fact that Missy is still around speaks for the competition, or lack of. Fortunately, there is an elite crop of female rappers coming through the ranks.

Chi-city’s Kid Sister (née Melissa Young) has been doing her own thing for years, and arrives as one of 2009’s hottest female prospects. Just as Missy was picked up by Jodeci, Kid Sister was taken under the wing of one Kanye West as his protege. On the face of it, she has displayed reasonable skills and is supported by an all-star team. Her debut Ultraviolet was always going to be a professional proposition, but Young herself had to justify West’s investment.

Ultraviolet is a more diverse mix than the PR suggests — roughly speaking it’s 40% rap, 20% electro, and 40% house. Even such a breakdown fails to encompass the timeline of styles and genres the album explores. “Pro Nails” was the buzz single, featuring West and A-Trak’s production, but the rest of the album hops between eras and styles.

The album is a labour of love- “Pro Nails” arrived in 2007, yet the album was pushed back, suffered numerous title changes and has generally had a rough ride. “Right Hand Hi” is a perfectly pitched reintroduction, the musical equivalent of a Jägerbomb — a big drop, full of energy and all kinds of nasty.

“Life On TV” maintains the breakneck pace, but small cracks in her verses begin to swing into view: “I try to catch the beat/Back it up, drop it, then jack for me/And don’t forget to breathe.” “54321” quickly returns to form, and finds Kid Sister singing over a breakneck beat. The premise relies on a looped sample of the track title and some atmospheric production, eventually segueing smoothly into “Get Fresh”, a fronting track that slows things down considerably. Looking to the future, Status 4 cover “You Ain’t Really Down” shows the potential for improvement. Bedding in on finger-clicks and some sultry vocal harmonies, there is no rapping to speak of. Her voice is surprisingly nimble, although her TV debut on Jimmy Fallon suggests that rapping will still remain her forte for the foreseeable future.

Over the course of the album, Kid Sister doesn’t bring enough to the table. Her rapping skills are wildly inconsistent, delivering on the big tracks but sleepwalking her way through the filler material. She sticks to even cadences and within the worn areas of swagger and boasts.

That said, the energy of Ultraviolet is undeniable; if the album kept up the breakneck pace of “54321” or “Right Hand Hi” there would be little opportunity to notice the flaws in Kid Sister’s MCing abilities. The album succeeds in unearthing a talent, but also in proving how far Kid Sister has to go. As a female alternative to the superficial brand of modern day rapping (see 50 Cent, etc.), she does a great job. It still feels, however, as if this Kid has a lot more to offer.

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