Kitty Pryde Live: ‘If I Did Really Bad I’m Sorry’
Back in 2006, when Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboy’s starting quarterback mid-season, College Humor’s Amir Blumenfeld started blogging in the first-person as an aggrieved, possibly mentally-impaired caricature of Bledsoe. It was thoroughly brilliant, but I think the reason I remember it so well is that it was the first time I noticed the fake-first-person Internet-comedy template that would later explode via Twitter. The form is deceivingly simple: come up with three (or fewer) defining characteristics for your character, and then riff on those characteristics over and over. Fake Drew Bledsoe hated Tony Romo, loved cheeseburgers, and was deluded about his own abilities to the point of mania. My favorite recent flash of genius in the genre was the GoodEffortKid, who (before apparently deleting his Twitter account) was predicting such things as the Miami Heat’s eventual conquest of “8 hustle trophies.” And the reason I bring this up is that Kitty Pryde — the teen ginger Tumblrwave rap sensation who played her first-ever show at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory on Friday — is sort-of a flesh-and-blood version of this single-serve Internet-character joke.
Kitty Pryde’s three defining characteristics: she works at ear-piercing emporium Claire’s; she’s obsessed with Danny Brown; and she’s kind of like, whatever, about “rapping,” or whatever. In interviews and on Twitter she’s done a pretty delightful job of hammering this home. But would that single-serving Internet-character joke work in the, you know, real world? You’re either going to think I’m an asshole or a contrarian, but I’m telling you — it worked.
She hit the stage around 1:30 am in a poofy dress with a big bow across the front, flanked by her little brother — who was defiantly rocking a tie-dye shirt and a Skrillex haircut — and her “best friend Annie.” Both had mics, although what they were supposed to be doing with them wasn’t clear; they definitely did a lot of rhythmic swaying. At one point Kitty blurted out something like “Oh my god I need new hypemen just kidding you guys are the best.” Later she’d Tweet “shouts out to @slydigbreh & my brother for having the balls to get onstage and send brainwaves 2 remind me not 2 trip or cry.”
She opened with “Justin Bieber,” which contains the phrase “Justin Bieber is my personal savior and lord” and also repeats the man’s name roughly 10 million times. Later she’d play her “Call Me Maybe” cover and her “hit single” “Okay Cupid,” and they were perfectly fine live in their charmingly tinny way, but also beside the point. Her voice was what her voice is — almost hypnotic in its flat-affect style — but her banter, where she could flex the Kitty Pryde character, was the deciding factor. On opening act Deniro Farrar: “Thanks to Deniro for calling me his baby mama or whatever. He can probably freestyle and I can’t.” On collaborator and fellow Internet rapper, Riff Raff: “I wish he was here but he’s probably off somewhere doing something cooler. Just kidding, he’s probably checking his email.” On an unrequited crush she wrote a song about, and who started paying attention to her only after she rose to infamy: “He asked me to shout out his band on Facebook! And now he’s getting married.” Elsewhere: “Can you chant ‘swag’?”; “I haven’t pissed myself yet”; “Everyone is staring at me like I’m retarded.”
I would guess that most of the people present in the small venue on Friday were there to see Kitty make a fool out of herself, or were at least expecting that that’s how it’d play out. Not in a mean way, necessarily, more in a This is just what happens now way: We latch on to an Internet curio and get obsessed, and then at some point extremely soon after getting obsessed we simultaneously agree that the curio has made itself irrelevant. That was more or less the trajectory for Kreayshawn, the white girl rapper predecessor Kitty is most often compared to: as soon as she started playing live shows, she got buried. But as Alex Pappademas already told you, the Kreayshawn comparison is off: “Kreayshawn was interesting/objectionable because she acted hard, talked up her hardscrabble background and picked fights with Rick Ross; Kitty Pryde raps about spending the summer ‘watching Jimmy Neutron and dying of boredom’ and being a ‘lawyer’s daughter.’” Live, the question of whether or not Kreayshawn could actually rap actually mattered. The only question for Kitty Pryde live was whether or not she could pull off her shtick.
Here’s Kitty explaining her own vision of her appeal: “’Oh she’s cute, this makes me laugh. It’s not good, but it’s funny.’ You send the link to your friends, and then it’s a big joke. Which is good, that’s what I wanted. But I want people to laugh with me, not laugh at me.” To that end, wrapping up her set, Kitty blurted one more bit of banter: “This was my first show where I didn’t know anyone so if I did really bad I’m sorry.”