Kid Sister | Ultraviolet (Fool’s Gold/Downtown Records)

Ultraviolet is directionless. Combine that with the weak subject matter, and we are provided little incentive to listen.

Buzz is a funny thing. Artists like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen have seen a benefit from it, but many buzz-worthy rappers like Joe Budden, Saigon and Little Brother failed to find their audiences. Lately, Kid Sister, the latest Kanye West protégé, used a sizeable online buzz to generate excitement about her debut record Ultraviolet, but it is sadly unfulfilled. 

My love of hip-hop stems greatly from the lyrics, as the production generally isn’t as intricate or layered as most electronic music. Therefore, anyone without at least solid lyrics is at a major disadvantage. Starting off on the wrong foot, Kid Sister is certainly not a wordsmith. This is best seen on “Step,” where KS recounts a conversation from her past. She continually (and unforgivably, really) uses the phrases “I’m like” and “she’s like” instead of switching it up with simple words like “says.” While rap won’t win any grammar awards, this is exceptionally bad. Over the rest of the album, KS spends most of her time talking about very shallow subjects. For example, she completely wastes her Kanye guest appearance on “Pro Nails” by talking about how great she looks. While hip-hop is a male dominated genre, there’s definitely a place for female MCs to stand just as tall as their male counterparts.  Instead of accepting the challenge, Kid Sister seems to shy away from it and address only a small part of her audience. She does give her best Kanye impersonation, aping his drawl and sing-song flow, but she isn’t a tenth as creative or candid as he is.

If the album has a strength, it’s the production, which is slightly innovative as it tends to lean more towards an electronic influence. At times, it’s even catchy. The best tracks tend to be the best beats, like “54321,” “You Ain’t Really Down” and “Control.” But those peaks aren’t that high as the album generally feels so flat and lifeless. It’s not well produced enough to be a true dance record, although songs like “Right Hand Hi” and “Life On TV” seem to lean that way. It doesn’t have enough elements of hip-hop or R&B to place it in those genres either, so as a result, Ultraviolet is directionless. Combine that with the weak subject matter, and we are provided little incentive to listen.

I really love a good female rapper, but it’s definitely possible I’m not in the target audience for this record. However, I don’t see what that target audience is. There’s a place in music for a female MC who preaches empowerment, but we only get glimpses of that. There’s always a place for good dance and hip-hop fusion, but that is only done slightly successfully. I personally was expecting a lot more. Like it or not, being Kanye’s protégé brings a certain expectation. In every place that Lupe Fiasco succeeded and excelled, Kid Sister fails. I’m interested to hear an intelligent woman’s perspective in hip-hop, which is what I think KS thinks she is. But she doesn’t execute it well enough and as a result, Ultraviolet is a waste of time. D | Brett Berliner

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