"Hell, I'd love to be the first really famous white girl rapper," says Concetta Kirschner, aka Princess Superstar. "But I can tell you right now, I bet you it's not gonna be me because I'm too weird."
Kirschner is kinda out there. Just being a Caucasion chick who rhymes would've been strange enough, but she collaborates with an MC named Chess-T-BunZ, makes erratic beats using vintage gear and mocks everything from the ever-consolidating music buz (her label's called The Corrupt Congomerate) to the obsession with sales figures (her indie debut was titles Strictly Platinum). Taking a break from her 9-to5 office gig, the NYC_based Kirschner struggles to define her sound. "I'm trying to make a new [genre]," she ventures. "I call it flip-flop because it's like hip-hop, but it's not exactly hip-hop."
Listeners might be thrown off by the rule-breaking aesthetic which runs rampant on Princess Superstar's third album, Last of the Great 20th Century Composers. Kirschner's disconcertingly hard to pin down, especially for conservative heads. She's a female rapper, but she's not rocking cornrows and a hoodie, nor is she teetering about in stiletto heels and a thong (though she does drop explicit sex rymes…Prince Paul, Jon Spencer (as in Blues Explosion) and Fugees collaborator John Forte roll with her on the new LP. "I've got these famous people on my record and it really reminds me of high school," she laughs. "Now I can sit at the cool table."
Still, it takes more than just a Kool Keith interlud to prove you're legit, so Kirschner's been honing her vocal delivery, a sassy, fast-paced scat that morphs into a throaty purr at a moment's notice. "Lyrics come easy to me and rhymes come easy to me," claims the woman who pens over-the-top lines like "Coutures fight to dress me/SAT scores ain't high to test me/Dow Jones on my ass try to assess me/Steal your shit, then do the cop who arrests me."
"But flow is totally about rhythm," she continues, "and being white, I'm rhythmically challenged. So I work really hard on my flow."
She's also a studio perfectionist. Along with production partmenr Curtis Curtis, Kirschner pillages old-school equipment to construct pared-down, retro-futuristic tracks that perfectly suit titles like "Do It Like a Robot." "[Curtis] has got everything," Concetta gushes. "He's even got this big Moog Modular, this big beast of a synthesizer…But then again, we also use ProTools. I always want it to sound new, even if it's through an old-school filter."
The legacy of white female MCs is less than illustrious ("I remember there was this one girl in the '80s called Terri B.," chuckles Concetta, "some Italian homegirl") but Princess Superstar's determined to be taken seriously. "I do a lot of shit with humor because I feel that's the best way to reach people," she explains. "But then again, I don't want to be considered a novelty. Even though there's humor, there's substance too."
— Kathryn Farr