Okay, so Kid Sister hangs with some famous people. Her little brother is J2K of Flosstradamus, and her boyfriend, A-Trak, is Kanye West's DJ. But she's not taking any hip-hop handouts: This lady, performing at the Orpheum New Year's Eve, has earned her fame fair and square.
Chalk it up to a little Red Bull and a lot of hard work, with some hard knocks along the way. Or, as she puts it in "Control," one of the tracks on her debut album,Ultraviolet: "[I'm] a South Sider; that's why I say more."
Kid Sister's family struggled to make ends meet in Chicago's southern suburbs in the 1980s and 1990s, where she first encountered the cassette tapes of Run-DMC, Cashmere and Twista. Then she dived into the house scene, where she learned how to make her beats bang.
When she came up for air in 2005, she tried her hand at rapping and found she was a natural. Pretty soon she was emceeing a monthly gig with Flosstradamus, which led to appearances on MTV and the cover of URB. Then she collaborated with West on her chart-scorching 2007 single "Pro Nails," which has been mixed and mashed up by everyone from Bag Raiders to Rusko.
Kid Sister was snatched up by Downtown Records as the single exploded, but after that, things were eerily quiet. A debut calledDream Datewas supposed to drop in 2008, but fans got stood up, forced to wait more than a year for Sis to take them out on the town.
The extra year spent tweaking and tightening led to a set of songs that don't just stand out but stick together. Plus, they push hip-hop to define itself more broadly. "Live on TV" adds a fractured slice of Daft Punk-style house to some rad raps, while "Big N Bad" blends a delivery that's slightly Sir Mix-a-Lot with a few shots of "Don't Go," a 1982 track by English synth-pop duo Yaz.
Better yet,Ultraviolet questions how effortless club-kid cool really is. As Tangerine Dream seeps into "Let Me Bang," Sis describes her pre-club trip to the Laundromat.