It's the night before Concetta Kirschner's 25th birthday, and she's kinda freaking. She's invited over 100 people to her one-bedroom New York apartment, the couch she bought for the party hasn't arrived yet, and she's just found out that her friends have hired a male stripper. Worst of all, the Princess Superstar is starting to feel a bit old.
"Rosk stars are supposed to be young," she protests. "But hey, Sheryl Crow is 31, and we all love her, right? I'll be OK."
Concetta will be more than OK. Her debut, Strictly Platinum (on Windsor's fab 5th Beetle Records) is the first genuinely mind-blowing album of 1996. Opposing hip hop loops, classic rock samples, old-school funk and a PhD from the University of Indie, Strictly Platinum could be classified as the quintessential New York album of the '90s.
Kirschner has followed in the footsteps of true Hip Hop innovators such as De La Soul, Basehead and the Beastie Boys by pushing the music envelope beyond the extreme, and dropping ryhmes that are as real as they come. "I wanted it to sound like Rick James going into Fugazi going into Yoko," she says quite convincingly.
Tracks like "Blue Beretta" find the flute from "Strawberry Fields" mixed over the opening groove of "Hey Ladies," and she makes my heart sing by sampling the Stones' "Hot Stuff," the funkiest groove by Brits ever. "A lot of my samples are classic rosk-y, sure," she admits. "But I grew up with hippie parents, and my dad would wake me up by blasting "Whole Lotta Love" in my ear. He was also way into cool soul like Stevie Wonderr and Earth, Wind and Fire. So for those that dis, f!#k that. This music is great. Besides," she continues, "I'm so done with being cool. That's high school action."
But before you write this off as someone showing off their record collection and undeniable good taste, listen to the blue-light lounge special-cum-blues explosion (and sample-free) "Smooth," or the Lower East Side boogie of "No More Songs."
A former member of Teen Beat's Gamma Rays, Kirschner's magical metamorphosis into Princess Superstar (like all good superheroes, from Spiderman to Howard the Duck) was a strangely perfect twist of fate. "I was just messing around with a 4-track recorder and a sampler. When I had a few songs that I liked, I sent a tape to Grand Royal, cause I figured the Beastie Boys might dig it."
When someone from grand Royal called to say they did dig it and wanted to see a live show, Princess Superstar was born.
Ironically, the guy from Grand Royal never showed up. Who did show up was the managing editor of CMJ magazine, who was so impressed that he asked for a Princess Superstar demo-tape. One glowing mention in the magazine later, and Concetta's life got really interesting. "All of a sudden I'm getting woken up in the morning by these phone calls," she remembers, " and people are like, 'hi, I'm so-and-so from Geffen Records or whoever. Can we get a tape?"
Now she's been on the cover of CMJ, and major labels are trying desperately to sign her, even offering to buy 5th Beetle just to get her John Hancock. "Yeah, it's pretty crazy," she admits. "All I wanna do is make good records and rock the world."