Post-Galang: Female MCs after M.I.A.
Wed, 27 Jun 2007 13:54:43
This month we profile three young female MCs on independent labels who are making a bid for indie club cred and mainstream rap attention with a flurry of singles and online hustle. It's a niche that M.I.A. carved out, but all of these ladies are thinking even bigger—though none of them have albums out... yet.
Going by the name Kid Sister, Melisa Young is a feisty throwback of an MC. She's the (older, actually) sister of Josh "J2K" Young of the eclectic DJ duo Flosstradamus. The Young siblings tour and perform together, so some might be tempted to dismiss them as just a family affair of hipster-hop royalty; but if you did, you'd be missing out on "Control." It's a party song built from simple yet effective components: a distorted bass lick, frenzied handclaps and a jerky synth line. On this pop and club pleasure, the highlight is Kid Sister's double-dutch flow.
While she routinely spews spitfire bars, Kid Sister often drops the final consonants of rhymes in the taffy of her Southside drawl. The result is part b-girl bravado, part gum-snapping sass. She's equally beguiling on the B-Side, "Damn Girl," a more straightforward hip-hop cut produced by A-Trak, the noted turntablist who happens to be her boyfriend. He's also Kanye West's tour DJ, which may have something to do with "Pro Nails," on which Kid Sister trades rhymes with the 'Ye himself. All this is raising hopes for her forthcoming album, but for the moment she's happily keeping it campy without being overly kitsch, and naughty without being overly explicit.
A newcomer who isn't shy about talking dirty is Amanda Blank. She surfaced last year with an incredibly raunchy and entertaining guest verse on Spank Rock's "Bump". While she's yet to top those quick and dirty bars, the Philly MC has been popping up on a number of tracks. Despite her fondness for rhymes that would make Luther Campbell blush, many of Amanda's recent outings have been decidedly more moody: "For the Unloved" has her crooning vampy vocals over an arpeggiated bassline, while "Take It Easy" is a low-key duet with M.I.A. But on "Get It Now," a no-nonsense bass tune, she's back on her home turf. Her potty- and motor-mouth works overtime to create a sex-rap that's more booty-demand than booty-call. Raw, rude and clever, she's one to watch.
Another female MC threat is New York's Santogold, aka Santi White. Amongst this set of up-and-coming women, Gold's voice is the least disciplined but the most adventurous. Santogold belts straight from her gut, sometimes avoiding rapping entirely. On the body-rocking Switch and Sinden remix of "You'll Find a Way," she flexes a defiant, visceral chant. She's also given to switching up genres, cranking up the angst with the brooding post-punk of "LES Artistes" one minute, then raising lighters with Spank Rock on the reggae burner "Shuv It" the next. Sometimes she runs up against the limits of vocal innovation, however, as with the syncopated keening of "Creator." Her manic mumblings on that track recall some of M.I.A.'s weirdest warblings—for better and worse, but surely not by accident.
Speaking of M.I.A., credit is surely due to her for blazing the trail that these hungry young ladies are now quickly climbing. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan-born rapper is prepping the release of her second album, Kala. The new single, "Boyz" is a timely reminder that none of these newcomers can compete with M.I.A. for sheer off-the-wall fabulousness. The best way to experience "Boyz" is the video—amidst a pixelated, surfer-jam-bedecked dance party in Jamaica, M.I.A. lets her tongue whip up a mesmerizing and puzzling frenzy. Like "Bird Flu," this song has a hefty outernational beat and a healthy helping of weirdness. It slaps, in its idiosyncratic way, but M.I.A. may have to come harder with it to keep her crown with all this competition.