June 17 2000
Concetta Kirshner is a terrible liar. "I have a couple of homes," the New Yorker fibs, "one in Switzerland and one in Palm Beach. Where in Switzerland? Er Lausanne? My accent's a little bad. But then my other house is in Palm Air, that's in Florida, right next to Puffy's. Well, Puffy used to live there but I had to kick him out. He was bothering me. Kept playing his bad music tool loud."
Later on in our transatlantic conversation with Princess Superstar—Concetta's ultra-fly, diamante-studded hip-hop alter ego—we learn of a third home in LA ("Bev Hills, where my Lexus is") and of the daily difficulties she experiences as a result of her exceptional fame. "It's really hard for me to get to my day job because all these people attack me and want my autograph," she drawls. "They're so persistent and I'm like, 'I have to get to my computer'."
Mainly, we learn that Concetta, 28, resident in a "crappy little tenement building in the East Village," lives vicariously through Princess Superstar, her creation of five years and whose latest album, Last of the Great 20th Century Composers, is a whipsmart amalgam of imaginatively produced hip-hop and off-centre electronica over which La Princess raps with considerable skill about her favourite topics—sex and success.
Partly produced by and featuring US leftfield luminaries Prince Paul, Kool Keith, Jon Spencer and occasional Cypress Hill man Baron Ricks, it's by some distance the best of Princess' three albums ('95's 'Strictly Platinum' and '97's 'CEO', both of which are trashier, less focused affairs), and is released on her own label, The Corrupt Conglomerate.
"It's amazing what you can do on an independent," she says, "but then I am amazing. If I was hungry for fame, I could go to a major label and they'd have a field day with a white girl rapper. They'd get people to write tracks for me or, you know, something lame. What I am hungry for is just people respecting my music and (whispers, for she's currently at work) being able to quit my day job."
The job in question involves updating a website "pretty badly" for a financial company in New York's Union Square, where she's learnt to "wheel and deal and be cut-throat" in business matters. And as you can see, Concetta's not afraid to exploit herself in a bid to sell more records.
"I'm trying to make money and I know that sex sells," she states. "But there is a certain integrity to what I'm doing in so far as I'm out there, running my own label and I don't think my music sounds like anybody else's. I figure that if you're gonna do music you should be innovative."
Certainly she's the first to record a conversation with genuinely unhinged LA rapper Kool Keith and turn it into a track called "Kool Keith's Ass." "He thinks I'm crazy, " coos the Princess, "and you know if Kool Keith thinks you're crazy then you are crazy."
Sadly, she's not lying.
— Piers Martin