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    "There are a lot of cliches bandied about regarding the hip hop community. I come from a background that's totally different from most people in hip hop. I'm white. I'm female. That immediately should set up barriers, but making the album I've received nothing but support from everyone in hip hop.

    'They dig it 'cos they realize I'm coming to hip hop from an outsider's angle and that allows me to play with it a hell of a lot more than someone from the inside."

    Strange. Precisely the kind of lethal accuracy Princess Superstar manifests on wax, she speaks in interview as well. What makes her freshest opus 'Princess Superstar Is' such a refreshing tangent from hip hop's current holding pattern is exactly the attitude she exudes straight off. Growing up in the 70s with a Sicilian-American mother and Russian-Polish-Jewish father, she's not your usual B-girl. But it's her somewhat circuitous route into hip hop that she feels defines her style. 'My parents got me into Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Miles Davis. What struck me about hip hop when I first encountered it was that it reflected that kind of openness --you could say anything, sound like anything.

    "The early years of hip hop weren't even about being a hip hop purist - it took on no-wave, nu-wave, punk, funk, disco, dub - everything. That's the kind of feel that fascinates me. It's free and it's beyond gender, race, age, everything - just a total mix up. That's what I am too, and that's why the album's called 'Princess Superstar Is' 'cos this is the most reflective, personal album I've ever made. It's a true reflection of my life."

    Indeed, what immediately endears you to 'PS Is' (beyond the sheer dazzling ear-popping wow of the music), especially in a hip hop world seemingly more obsessed with niche-lifestyle marketing bullshit than ever before, is its total honesty to both the larger-than-life luridness and closer-than-death complexities of P's persona. Under her control, what emerges is a frequently hilarious, sometimes shocking, always absorbing, yet thoroughly likeable trawl thorough Princess' worse habits (the scandalous 'Babysitter'), saving graces ('We Got Panache') and eventual redemption through music (the incredible 'Too Much Weight'). The Whole album is fused with a wit, reach and poignancy infinitely beyond the cookie-cutter state-of-the art snoozeathons most solo rap albums have been this year.

    'There's no way I could do this on a major label' she admits. "Because of who I am, what I look like, they'd just be on me straight away with ' Wear this, say this, do this' and there's no way I can do anything I don't feel. ' All the people who collaborated on the album (a stellar cast list including Beth Orton, Kool Keith and the incomparable J-Zone) are people who are dedicated to making music that's beyond genre, music that cuts across everything to talk about things everyone feels but no one seems to talk about.'

    First dropping earthwards on 1995's 'Strictly Platinum', Princess skillfully avoided the huge major label interest she received with the fiercely independent 'CEO' in '97 and '99's incredible, critically-lavished, 'Last Of the Great 20th Century Composers' (see it, buy it, love it). With ' Princess Superstar Is' easily her most accomplished and accessible meisterwerk to date, shouldn't she clearly be getting ready for stardom right now? ' I've been ready all my life! I've been making my own records my own way for so long now you kind of get used to things being a battle, a struggle with your own identity, you get used to any idea of massive success just being a fantasy you get lost in.

    'It might sound vain, but in a fair world I think Princess Superstar would be a star. But just to be a star in my own head might have to be enough.'

    Lighting up the hip hop firmament with the sound of real freedom. Don't even think about not being dazzled.

    'Princess Superstar Is' is out 24th September on Rapster Records.

    Neil Kulkan

    Article reprinted without permission.