Kid Sister made it to URB’s Girls of Summer feature. Very entertaining read. She was a fatty, loves to cuss, and keeps it real b/c she actually worked crappy jobs just like us. She also changed the album title, no longer Koko B. Ware. Sad Face. If you like a dope musician on the rise or a crappy hipster girl that looks like a dude: also check out Janelle Morae or Santogold. Kid Sister’s full URB interview after the jump…
Daiana Feuer writes:
Melisa Young says “shit” 23 times, “fuck” 28 times and “fun” 17 times in a 63 minute phone call. She cues up Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story” within five seconds as the answer to “What is the ultimate sample?” and puts my ear against the speaker. Three dishes she’d take on an island: (1) Chips, guac and salsa, (2) chicken vindaloo (extra hot with naan), and (3) some soul food (macaroni and cheese, crusty on top, with fried chicken, turkey and ham). She got her first acrylic nails, long and candy red, at age 13, but never had a Kid Sister doll.
Sitting at the Dream Hotel in New York City, everything is aquamarine. The bed is a floating platform, flat and rectangular, Asian in vibe, with blue lights underneath. It’s an inspiration for her fantasy tour bus, which, like her nails, has to have “a little spank on it.” It’s got to have pink ground effects. Everything will be pink and purple with sparkles on it. In her words, “a Tokyo Drift-ass tour bus.”
Recently, a spotlight follows Young to fashionably abstract hotel rooms with an endless supply of Red Bull. Reverberations of “Hit me on my beeper, beeper, beeper” and “She got her toes done up with her fingernails matchin’” echo from club to red carpet. Electro loving hipsters and mainstream hip-pop charts just can’t get enough. Even Mickey D’s called for a commercial. “To be thrust into smoke and mirrors and glitz and fancy stuff, it’s crazy,” Young laughs. “Sushi is supposed to be a treat, not every fucking night!”
Let’s go back to Markham, Illinois, and trace our way through the first time the word “fuck” let loose from Melisa Young’s glossy lips. It’s the early ’90s. Along the South Chicago suburb’s rough edges, the air smells of nature and weed: fields, trees and kush. It’s a nothing-to-do neighborhood where the smart move is to throw out the box that came with your new TV at the park, so no one passing your trash bin gets any ideas.
“Our mom wouldn’t let us leave the street and the street was really short,” Young recounts. “We dug up worms. We made mud pies. We played in the drainage ditch. We had cable, that’s why I was fat.”
The Kid Sister story tells the life of a chubby girl turned skinny turned chubby turned skinny turned rapper. A bit like Hairspray, with cursing and ghetto house music replacing ’60s soul and pop.”I had to get on Jenny Craig because I was a chubbasaurus rex. Little Debbie, that was my girl.”
Does the image of mini-Melisa include any wacky, awful injuries, you may wonder? Naturally, that’s the next question.
“One time, I forgot my key. There was a picnic table my grandparents bought. It was all rickety and fucked up. I put the picnic table against the house, took one of the long benches that go with the picnic table, stacked that on top of the picnic table, put another bench on top of that and tried to climb on it. I fell from 12 feet up and, I was so fat, I shattered my ankle. Our dog was inside the house and, he was so upset by me screaming, he unlocked the door. My ankle was fucked for five years. I would just twist my ankle around and it was like, crack.”
Age: 12. Catholic school choir Kid Sis listens to classical radio, likes Bach. But there’s this group called Color Me Badd, they’re kinda wild, talking about “Slow Motion” and things they want to do all night. The Sister enters a hippie commune school on the farm. Meets bad girls who get fake IDs and show her a whole new world, starting with a teen dance club called Jubilation.
“That was the first time I heard Percolator. Cashmere sold the mixtape out of the back of his car. Reel 2 Reel was my first show. ‘I like to move it, move it.’ It was him and two lesbian dancers with dreadlocks. I was fucking shocked. Dancing brings me back to this time that was all about having fun. There’s a song, I could play it for you right now, ‘She got a big old dookie booty, I got a big old dookie booty.’ I grew up with that song. Maybe it’s the endorphins. I like shakin’ my ass. You know, people get a little buzz when they get to movin’.”
Asked how she pulls it off in a dress and high heels, Kid Sister responds with a pregnant pause, as if squeezing my face in her hand to shake it with the following words: “Do you know how many fucking terrifying thoughts go through my head every time I jump in heels? Think about my ankle. Think-a-bout-my-ankle. Every time I jump, I’m like, ‘OK, OK, OK, oh my God, picnic table!”
Young fortifies her bones before a show by stretching out with a couple of those energy drinks. “It makes me more spry. Why do coke, when you can get Red Bull for two dollars? And you can mix it with a drink and that gets you fucked up as well. That’s my thought on coke and Red Bull.”
When she first picked up a pen a few short years ago, Young came up with “stinkers.” She was stuck at songwriting donde esta el ba–o. Not too proud to wax on the wisdom of the experts, she got a book by “Nashville-ass country dude” Jason Bloom.
Something clicked. “Let Me Bang” came rollicking out on a baile funk beat provided by Curt “Autobot” Cameruci, brother Josh (aka J2K)’s co-conspirator in Flosstradamus. She went back at it boasting, “Check it out. I can do double time and I can do half time and I can do it when I’m in a handstand with a cigarette.”
At first Young kept it organic, Zen with a snap. “One song every six months. ‘I’m doing this for fun and you can’t tell me what to do, so shut the fuck up!’ Then she was signed, first to Fools Gold then to Downtown Records. Her response: “Oh shit.”
“I want it to be an inside joke that everybody gets. I write a song the way I talk. I don’t feel comfortable talking about my body. It could be that I was overweight for so long, I just don’t want to mix things about my body and my sexuality because I have funny feelings about that. Or, it could be that I was raised Catholic as hell. But I like to talk shit so there go my ideas. When I say, ‘Man, quit callin’ me!’ and I see girls in the audience like, ‘Yeah, I hate that shit!’ It’s like we’re saying it to each other. It’s funny to connect with people on some You-Go-Girl shit.”
Young imagines her audience under fluorescent lights carrying shopping bags. “I worked at Bath and Body Works. ‘Hi, Welcome to Bath and Body Works. Our new product is Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion whatever. I think it smells like ass.’ If the customer responded, ‘You know, this does smell like ass,’ we could get down on some ‘fuck this old bullshit.’ I look at connecting with the audience in that way. The entire audience is a bunch of cool customers.”
Despite the high gloss hype, Young refuses to take herself seriously. It goes against her principles. “When you look at yourself or something critically, or in a way that you haven’t looked at it before, it’s like slipping out of yourself and looking at you and saying, ‘What do you see?’” That is, to pull out your eyes and point them back at yourself like a stranger. “Instead, I go through life being constantly surprised.”
What it comes down to is a willingness to appreciate the finer things in life as if your spoonful of sugar’s got munchkins tap-dancing on it.
“Chris Brown came up to me and I didn’t even notice because I’m coasting through life, and he’s like, ‘It’s an honor to meet you,’” she says in a bowing butler voice.”What are you on, crack? Then Rihanna came up, ‘Oh my god, it’s Kid Sister.’ What? I work at fucking Bath and Body Works! I know I don’t anymore, but I still feel like I do.”
Who needs Fechner or Schleiermacher to tell ya the whosits and whatsits of jokes and their relation to the unconscious fools who are all business and no pleasure, when you can fill your pipe with Mary Poppins wisdom: “The more you laugh/the more you fill with glee/the more the glee/the more we’re a merrier we!”
“Getting nominated for a BET award, presenting at the awards, it’s the funniest thing ever. Is this a joke? I’m fucking laughing my ass off. A lot of people get all, ‘Well, I aaam nominated for blah blah,’ shut the fuck up. I’m going to do the pony onstage, hopefully I won’t fall.”
Even her trepidations take the form of whimsy. The Sis greets her new life with the same shocked enthusiasm that introduced her to Jubilation way back in the day. Beneath the shiny layer of curse words, she retains a fish out of water innocence, and she ain’t afraid to show it.
“When I found out [about the BET nom], oh my God.” Her voice is wide-eyed, “What am I gonna wear? There’s no user guide to navigate this world. My brother was like [imagine them as kids digging worms], ‘Yeah, it’s going to be like…tables’…and I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t think it’s like an athlete awards ceremony…”
Young’s anticipated first album, Dream Date, (recently changed from Koko B Ware, which referenced the bird-loving arm-flapping old wrestler), is an extended family affair. With contributions from boyfriend A-Trak, her brother, her boyfriend’s brother (Dave from Chromeo), Diplo and Kanye West, to name a few, the album carries a lot of weight. In the grand scheme, Dream Date presents the intersection of a musical collective based around these main players, summoning a wave at a pep rally.
“What other job do you go out there and do your job, and when you’re finished people stand up and clap? Alright, see you next week–Whoooooo!