Kid Sister: Material Girl

It was just around the spring of last year when the buzz of Kid Sister escaped Chicago’s borders. As the designer dance movement began to penetrate the Hip-Hop community, groups like Flosstradamus and Chromeo gingerly escorted rap fans through the transition. Luckily, for Melisa Young p/k/a Kid Sister, her flashy nailed fingers rested on the […]

It was just around the spring of last year when the buzz of Kid Sister escaped Chicago’s borders. As the designer dance movement began to penetrate the Hip-Hop community, groups like Flosstradamus and Chromeo gingerly escorted rap fans through the transition. Luckily, for Melisa Young p/k/a Kid Sister, her flashy nailed fingers rested on the pulse of that scene. Being the older sis of J2K from Flosstradamus and the girlfriend of A-Trak (aka Kanye West’s DJ and Dave 1 from Chromeo’s brother—are you keeping up?), Kid Sister resides as the sole female of her posse a la Lauryn Hill and Lil’ Kim in their better days. But as the free spirited chick with a penchant for ‘90s R&B and nail polish makes her way to superstardom, her past of barely paying bills doesn’t escape her. All violins aside, she’s not that kind of survivor, but perhaps that explains the Downtown Records’ latest signee’s consistent humility. Kanye West on her first single? A world tour and a new record deal? Kid Sister is so not conceited, but if she was…she’d have a reason. Between which two CDs would you place yours if we still had record stores?Kid Sister: Well, if it were between two CDs that I like and listen to it would probably be between Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Original Broadway Cast Recording and Doggystyle. [laughs] But realistically, what it’s probably going to be between is like, I don’t know, Lil’ Mama and Amy Winehouse. It’s gonna be pop music, it’s going to be fun, and ethnically ambiguous like me! Your crew is pretty hot right now; how did you all link up?Kid Sister: [J2K and Autobot of Flosstradamus] started doing this party at a straight club in a completely gay part of [Chicago] called Boys Town. It was at this tiny club – the capacity was 75 – but we would pack 200 kids in there. Wall to wall people, and it started getting bigger so they had to move the party from that bar to a bigger place. [Flosstradamus] became legendary. These parties really blew them up to a point where they were like celebrities in Chicago. I, thank goodness, caught on to that trend too. I started doing shows, doing a couple of songs and drunkenly jumping on the stage. People were drunk and happy to be there. People would stand outside and wait to get into these parties for hours. It was super crazy. People would wait in line to get into this s***ty bar that was like, gross. I wouldn’t get anywhere near the toilet. [laughs] So anyway, then a little bit later I met [A-Trak] because we had the same publicist and Dave 1 and P-Thugg [of Chromeo]. Then [A-Trak] was like “I want to start doing music with you.” So I recorded “Damn Girl” in my front closet, no air conditioning, August of ’06, and that really started it. That’s when me and [A-Trak] got together too. Sounds like a storybook, but I guess I’m not surprised because I’m a romantic person. [laughs] If you had to make up your own girl posse out of women throughout history who would you pick?Kid Sister: Joan of Arc, [laughs] Aretha Franklin, Lily Taylor, Katherine Heigl [laughs] I love that b***h so much, oh and the girls from 702. Oh, oh and Tisha There’s a posse for ya…so how fun was it to make the video for “Pro-Nails”?Kid Sister: It was really really fun. I have a degree in film [from Columbia College], so it’s not like I went into the shoot thinking that it was going to be like a four-hour thing and we were going to get done. The movies that I’ve worked on – because I used to live in New York, I interned and worked on a couple of films – like bigger budget independent films, we would work 15 hour days for four weeks, five weeks on end. I went into the [“Pro-Nails” video] shoot thinking, “This is gonna be crazy.” And we were there 15-16 hours, and for some reason it was so exciting and it was so fun, and I felt so flattered by the whole thing that I was able to keep a smile on my face from the beginning to the end. It was really fun.Everybody was crazy, and I haven’t seen this on any other set, but everybody was completely on the same team. Everybody was working for the love, working for the love of the game. We were all kind of working toward the same goal, so we got it done successfully for $2,500. It’s a miracle. The fact that the video exists is a complete miracle and with the biggest dude in the game [Kanye West], are you kidding me? Sometimes I just have to shake myself and slap myself and sit back and say, “This never happened. It doesn’t happen like this.” I’m really, really blessed. I’m really lucky. [Kid Sister “Pro Nails”] And you met Kanye West through your boyfriend A-Trak right?Kid Sister: Yes I did! What did you do when you heard Kanye thought you were dope?Kid Sister: It was weird because I [had] met his mom like a year and a half ago, and then I didn’t meet him at that point. I don’t know why we didn’t meet, but – maybe it was for Lollapalooza, not last year but the year before – it wasn’t like we were having talks with his mom, just, “Hey how are you.” She was in town, we were in town. Some time went by and [A-Trak] plays [“Pro-Nails”] for Kanye and he’s like, “I want to get on it. It’s dope.” I didn’t meet him until at least another month or month and a half after he got on the song. So I had the song out there with dude on it and I hadn’t even met him! So we met at the Live Earth show at Giants Stadium in Jersey. I was like, “This is crazy.” I had never seen that many people. I’d never been to a stadium before; I had never been to a football game before. So crazy. I was like, “That’s Cameron Diaz, oh my God!” I’m such a dork. We’re kind of backstage before ‘Ye goes on, and I’m standing with [A-Trak] and he goes up to the DJ booth, and I didn’t even know Kanye was standing there. He came up to me and was like, “Hey it’s nice to see you!” I forget what he said, but I was like, “Hey thank you so much for coming on the song!” Then he’s like, “Yeah we met before in Chicago.” I was like, “No I met your mom, and I saw you, but we never met.” He’s like, “We didn’t?” I go, “No, this is the first time we’re meeting.” Real awkward. [laughs] Then I saw him play, and wow I never saw a crowd go that crazy. So yeah, that’s how we met and we’ve seen each other a bunch since then. He’s so cool and super sweet. He’s really strong and the nicest person ever. So you’re really putting Chicago on the map for females in Hip-Hop…Kid Sister: I hope so! I hope I’m doing something right, because [sings] I’m just tryin’ to get my shine on! [laughs] I’m just trying to keep it moving and have Who are some of your favorite female emcees?Kid Sister: I love ‘em all! I mean I look at them all, and I think we all offer something unique. I’m the weirdo of the bunch I think. As far as uniqueness goes, I think I’ve got that on Can you break down the term jukin’ for those who might not know it? Kid Sister: I’ll break it down like this – when I was around twelve or thirteen, I went to this hippie commune kind of school. It wasn’t a school for bad kids or anything, but just a hippie school on a farm. I had gone to an all-white Catholic school before that and the kids were kind of racist; they were really mean. I was the one of the only biracial children there for like six years [Ed. Note: Kid Sis’ mother is Caucasian while her father is African-American], so I was like, “Mom, I’d like to go to a different school.” So I transferred to this hippie school. The hippie school was very mixed. There were a bunch of mixed girls I made friends with, and I was like – and still am – the Catholic girl who doesn’t curse, and I’ve never done drugs. I go to this school and make friends with these mixed girls who were super cute and super nice and I could identify with somebody finally and it was great. They were super sweet, but bad. They were like, “Melisa, I’ve got these fake IDs.” We were twelve years old and they got these fake IDs from a nearby high school. They were like, “Let’s go to this club Jubilation!” Jubilation was a dance club for older teens, and we went there for the first time. It was the first time I’d ever heard booty house, which is now known as juke. These girls would do what was called poppin’ and I would ask these girls to show me how to pop. It’s kind of that dance people do when juke comes on – you pop your butt up and down! Right around ’96, the phrase “juke dat” became popular in booty house songs, and then everyone started calling it juke. It’s really fast like 150bpm Chicago Southside dance music. [Kid Sister “Switch Board”] What are your top five songs to pop your butt to?Kid Sister: “Brighter Days” by Cajmere featuring Dajae. I’m sorry, but I love The-Dream “Shawty Is Da S**t” I know it’s kind of old now, but I love that song. [searches through laptop] “Holla Back Youngin’” by Fabolous, remember that one? “Oochie Wally” by Nas, and “Get To Poppin’” Rich Boy featuring Pitbull. [plays “Get To Poppin” on laptop] You lived in Italy too for a bit, right?Kid Sister: Yeah I lived in Italy for a semester in the Fall of ’99. [laughs] I was poor then too. I got to go on a scholarship. I remember it was an alumni fund at Loyola University in Rome that everyone donates money to for kids who don’t have enough money to travel. So they gave me money and I traveled to Venice. It was so nice. I studied Fine Art there. It was a really great experience for me, and a lot of our classes were onsite classes where we would travel with the professor to cathedrals around town and look at our textbooks and look up and see the actual things. Are you still working at the kids clothing store?Kid Sister: Kind of…I’ll still work for them when they need help, but really now I’m writing and doing shows. It’s so crazy, I can’t believe I’m finally doing it. I’m super shocked. The store sounded like it was a lot of fun to work at too.Kid Sister: Yeah it was fun, they have a beer fridge, and they have satellite radio. They’re like, “Yo whenever you want to leave and go do a tour it’s fine.” It’s a really cool job, but not working there is kind of nicer. [laughs] I mean really it’s a matter of not having to ride my bike in the snow. I know it sounds like, “Oh I had to ride my bike two miles uphill in the snow both ways,” but whatever, the weather here in Chicago is bad. In snow it’s hard to ride your bike to work with a s***ty coat and shoes with holes in them. I was struggling for a long time. Struggling, struggling. Like, no joke, public aid struggling. Wow, and you biked everywhere?Kid Sister: I rode my bike until it died, and then I bought another bike and that one’s kinda s***ty. I bought my first bike for $45, my second bike for $40. I mean, I don’t want to sound like Horatio Alger like I pulled myself up from my bootstraps and did it, but I kinda did. What can I say? I had help from a lot of good people. I’m lucky; I’m blessed. Like a year ago, I’d come home crying and soaked, freezing. It was hard, and I was super depressed about it. I would tell myself it was temporary. I didn’t think it was ever gonna end, but I guess it’s ending now. Isn’t that crazy?