Kitty Pryde and the benefits of cultural short-term memory loss

by

comment

Kitty Pryde in Dead Island
  • Kitty Pryde in "Dead Island"
Earlier this week teenaged Florida rapper Kitty Pryde dropped a new song called "Dead Island." The MC's latest cut received plenty of attention, which is understandable considering she attracted a swarm of interest from plenty of music sites when she posted a video for "Okay Cupid" back in May. An odd blip in all the reporting of Kitty Pryde's new tune, which is off her forthcoming D.A.I.S.Y. Rage EP, is the headline Rolling Stone ran: "Kitty Pryde Resurfaces with 'Dead Island.'"

The term "resurface" is an unusual choice; typically the word is used to describe a musician who releases a new album or song after spending so many years out of the public eye that most people just assume said artist is dead (that is if the public even remembers said artist). To use "resurface" when talking about a rapper who jumped into the public consciousness less than one year ago—and during a time when the volume of new and exciting white female rappers inspired many a trend piece—feels wrong, especially considering this particular musician hasn't stopped releasing music (Pryde contributed a song to the solid Sufjan Stevens Christmas remix mixtape, Chopped and Scrooged, which dropped last month).

Yet Rolling Stone's use of "resurface" says a lot more about the accelerated speed at which we experience new music than it does about the outlet's grasp of Pryde's catalog. Namely, it underscores how easy it is to forget new musicians ever existed if they're not constantly uploading new material to the net each and every month. If that RS headline says anything about Pryde it's that she's been classified as an artist who primarily exists and excels within the ones and zeros that make up the World Wide Web, a world in which it's even easier to forget about musical acts if they barely struck your fancy in the first place. While that can easily harm any musician struggling to "resurface" online, the Internet's accelerated short attention span and short-term memory loss could actually be beneficial for Kitty Pryde.

The most striking thing about Pryde is her flow, which is equally informed by drawn-out inflections of stereotypical suburban teenage girls and the nasally monotone drawl of Why? main man Yoni Wolf; at times Pryde spits with such a lazy affectation it sounds like she's just dragged herself out of bed after a nice afternoon nap, her eyes still filled with sleep. At times she sounds indifferent to rapping, a sleight of hand that can easily mislead listeners into thinking she's not invested in her task even as she drops witty rhymes. Pryde's vocal style is a large part of what sets her apart from other rising rappers, and while it's won her plenty of fans it's also inspired plenty of negative criticisms, or at least the appearance that it inspires bad vibes; Google "Kitty Pryde backlash" and you'll find more than a million results.

But if that Rolling Stone headline is any indication, Kitty Pryde's status as a lightning-rod is as much of a distant memory as her last EP, June's Haha I'm Sorry, which can ultimately be beneficial for the rapper. Whatever polarizing thoughts the public had of Pryde—good and bad—have largely faded, allowing her to recalibrate her musical persona in peace. "Dead Island" makes it pretty clear that she's taking advantage of the situation, and her tight flow is one of the many welcome surprises that have caught folks off guard. Spin's headline put it best: "Kitty Pryde's 'Dead Island' Is Good Enough to Silence H8Rs."

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

Find out how you can help

Add a comment