Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
Kathryn Beckwith — you may know her by her rap moniker Kitty Pryde — is a recent high school graduate from Daytona Beach, Fla., and a Claire’s employee who’s already perfected her cat eye and declared herself as the rap game’s Taylor Swift. Her ad-libs are giggles, scripted but still reminiscent of the slight embarrassment that ensues when, say, actress Michelle Trachtenberg is caught (reciting lines of Nicki Minaj‘s “Shake It For Daddy”). Or, when Swift herself had to shield her eyes and imagine herself alone in the car as she rapped just a few lines of “Super Bass” to a radio station audience, the very performance that inspired Minaj’s surprise appearance during Swift’s Speak Now tour. But Pryde has very few reasons to be embarrassed.
Her song “Justin Bieber” is a string of fan-crazed confessions — essentially her version of Eminem‘s “Stan.” (“It’ll suffice if we just run over Selena twice / right?”) Her latest single features Mad Decent’s newest signee Riff Raff, in addition to a gleeful chorus in which she loops a sample of herself: “Whee, I can rap!” On June 15, she even made her live New York debut at the Knitting Factory, where she performed cuts off her two EPS, the lizzie mcguire experience and haha, i’m sorry.
Kitty Pryde, “Justin Bieber”
AGE: For now, Pryde isn’t telling. She has, however, disputed a blogger who thought she was 13 (“I thought that was hilarious,” she said to Complex), and in a recent studio session, she rapped a telling confession: “I didn’t even know what ‘dome’ meant until 12th grade.”
INFLUENCES: In the music video for “Okay Cupid” — for many, the first look at the lanky bottle redhead — Pryde wears a T-shirt featuring the cover of “Ovary Action (Lookout!)” by the Yeastie Girlz, an all-girl response act to the Beastie Boys. In songs, however, Pryde rambles off the names of her influences as if she’s slyly divulging the names of her crushes, or as if she’s imitating WHY?‘s Yoni Wolf: “I thought I was Sheena, you know, a punk rocker? Till I grew into wanting to be Flocka.”
“Your Love,” backed by an Annie Lennox sample, takes the same approach as Nicki Minaj‘s swooning single of the same name. And when a friend called her at Claire’s to tell her that Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt had sort of dissed her on Twitter, she was admittedly disappointed.
WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: Pryde ramble-raps about slightly innocent obsessions (his underwear drawer, his cigarette breath), bouts of self-deprecation (“If you write down the reasons why I’m cool, it’s a short list”) and intense infatuation, which she phrases as a teenager occasionally would: at times cloyingly sweet but never tainted by adult regret. Even on diss tracks in which she compares genitalia to a Ring Pop (“smiledog.jpg”), she maintains that she is this young, innocent rapper being picked on by bigger, badder lyricists. In “Okay Cupid,” intoxicating loops provided by Lil B and A$AP Rocky producer Beautiful Lou help Pryde stumble through a haze of uniquely 2012 adolescent experiences.
BEGINNINGS: Friends would occasionally book Pryde for shows in Daytona Beach and Orlando, Fla., and she would drag her lawyer father along for safety’s sake. Aside from that, however, Pryde mainly rapped for her Twitter and Tumblr followers. “Hood Friday,” off her first EP the lizzie mcguire experience, plays out like a practice bedroom session, and it’s also now a rare chance to hear her saccharine-sweet inflections being drowned out by brash rap standards — what’s announced as a “trap radio DJ remix.” As “Okay Cupid” and even her take on Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” would later prove, Pryde quickly learned to stop caring about cred, especially while she’s rapping.
Kitty Pryde feat. Riff Raff, “Orion’s Belt”
BIG BREAK: As she told Complex, Pryde left for a last-minute shift at Claire’s right after she uploaded the music video for “Okay Cupid”, which follows her as she browses through a friend’s actual yard sale and zooms in as she scrolls through Google Image results of Danny Brown. An hour later, a friend called the store to report Earl Sweatshirt’s comments on Twitter: “if you are posting kitty pryde and not [Odd Future affiliate] kilo kish you need to reconsider your life decisions.”
But these posts made other comparisons as well, to other white rappers (Kreayshawn, “the popular girl at school”, according to Pryde), viral video rappers (Karmin) and internet sensations (Lana Del Rey). The music video for “Okay Cupid” has since garnered more than 380,000 views, which pales in comparison to the number of times “Video Games” has been viewed (more than 41 million), but still justified the Knitting Factory gig and even a photo shoot with Brown himself.
WHAT’S NEXT: Aside from a free gig in Orlando on July 11, Pryde hopes to release a proper album and launch a full-blown tour. “You know on the Internet, you think of a weird fetish and you think that there’s no one in the fucking world that’s into that. But then you go online and you’re like, ‘Yeah there is,’” she said at her Knitting Factory show. “It’s a very big place, so somebody’s gotta be into it.”
Kitty Pryde feat. Dankte, “Ay Shawty 2: The Shrekoning”