Princess Superstar, according to her press release, has "created her own style". Such claims are often difficult to believe, and given that fact my sceptical brain searched long and hard for comparisons. Interestingly, I came up with none. Not that they don't exist, and I'm sure the Princess herself would be the first to admit that, but as far as what we in Australia hear of the New York underground, the reference points are few and far between. The feminist front of Sarah Jones' 'Your Revolution' mixed with the twisted filth of MC Paul Barman is about as close as you'll get.
Yet that half-arsed comparison itself misses the mark as well. Emerging from the NYC indie scene, Ms Superstar did it all to get where she got, in the true spirit of what KRS-One calls one of the nine elements of hip hop - entrepreneurialism.
"I've only just licensed my label Rapster Records/Corrupt Conglomerate to !K7, but I did run my label for years. There were a ton of difficulties, in that you don't have any money and you don't have any power," she said on the phone from her pad in New York. "Plus, you have to work around the clock in order to make it work. On the other hand, I didn't have a huge label dictating to me what I had to sound like, what I had to be like, when the record was coming out, if it was coming out, if they were going to put any money behind me."
It is certainly this DIY attitude that has got her sound out there. The live sound of the NYC indie scene that she emerged from is certainly evident, and given the mainstream-underground hip hop game's penchant for "keepin' it real" (read "staid"), it is unlikely that such a sound would have been picked up on the east coast.
"At first I was in the indie rock scene, more in the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion type scene," she explains. Jon Spencer, who Ms Superstar referred to in an interview in keyChain'crapfanzine as "the real Black Elvis", remixed her 'Bump Your Ass Off' from Last of The Great 20th Century Composers album and also collaborated on her latest album, Is.... "But there were elements of hip hop on all my records, and as I became a better emcee and a better producer then I gradually got more into the hip hop scene."
The qudos in terms of the hip hop fraternity most probably came with the Prince Paul collaboration 'I Hope I Sell Some Records at Christmas Time' single. Not that it particularly shone as a track, but Prince Paul - come on?! How is it that a relative unknown gets to hook up with the producer of such gems as De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising?
"With anybody I wanted to work with it was a matter of six degrees of separation. So I got his address and I sent him a song I did with Baron Ricks, a really dirty song. Paul rang me back and said 'I'm producing this kid called Paul Barman, would you emcee on this track. I said sure because I would do whatever Prince Paul told me - musically - I think he's a such genius." From there, the benefits of "going for it, and then having the good music to back you up..." were clear. Even stalking was not out of the question, as revealed in the classic Kool Keith's 'Ass' track of her previous album. "Don't worry, Keith, I won't exploit you," she tells the living legend in the sampled intro to the song which led to the collab on her most recent release.
Now, how many of you knew that Kool Keith now runs his own porno movie company? I guess it comes as no surprise. But, for a fella like that, how's he going to cope with an independent woman like Princess Superstar? "I think he wasn't used to a woman bringing what I brought to the studio. I think he was a little bit shocked, and I think I made him a little bit shy..." You only have to check the photos on www.princesssuperstar.com to figure that one out! In fact, for the duration of the track 'Kool Keith and Me', Ms Superstar pays Keith out relentlessly without a single comeback from the "legend"!
But Kool Keith's style is pretty much old hat these days, not to detract from his amazing (if, at times, misoginistic) discography. How does the Princess deal with more new school fools, such as the outrageous MC Paul Barman? After hooking up with Prince Paul, he asked her back to collaborate with the foul-mouthed Richard Simmons lookalike for his album It's Very Stimulating. What the hell happened?
"It was really funny. That was Paul's first time recording, and I couldn't even imagine your first time recording with Prince Paul. He was so cute and nervous, and I was nervous, too, but I already had three albums under my belt. I couldn't even imagine being poor Paul Barman, first time in the studio, being with such a legend... ME!!"
And there you have it. An unrelenting yet totally tongue-in-cheek approach. One gets the feeling that Ms Superstar would have no problem "destroying [one's] career", as Monsieur Keith says. And if she does wreck anyone's career, you better bet she'll be laughing all the way to the bank. If some of the "true school" fall in her wake, that'll be their own fault.
"The problem with a lot of rap is that's it's falling into it's own cliche, not just in the mainstream but in the underground as well," Princess waxes. "The underground is supposed to be a place where people take risks in music, but even there people are falling into their own cliche. It's a little bit depressing, but from any low point in music there comes some sort of revolution, and I hope to be a part of it."
The only major gripe Ms Superstar expressed about the Big Apple is the unadventurous nature of the east coast hip hop scene: "DJ Shadow for example has always been so innovative, but on the east coast it's mostly about Rawkus Records, and Rawkus is getting so fucking boring, that something's got to happen. I'm hoping there's going to be a backlash and something great will come out of it."
Anyway, this story has been way too serious. Princess Superstar is a foul-mouthed lady with a yearning for the "bling-bling" and J-Zone's latest 12". If you are a Christian, don't buy this album. Princess Superstar has a dirty mind and is not afraid to express it. Not only that, but the CD includes 'Tamahoochie v1.0', which Ms Superstar describes as "a relationship model, to teach people how to treat their girlfriends". It's about giving her lobster and Gucci, keep her happy, but don't let the spoilt meter go too high! If this happens, feed her McDonalds. I never knew.
Is... is out now through !K7/Creative Vibes.