After mining Internet gold with her tongue-in-cheek sleeper hit “Okay Cupid,” Kitty didn’t see a future in hip-hop. Formerly known as Kitty Pryde, the 19-year-old rapstress, whose mildly sardonic tone supports her tee-hee persona, approached the genre with a grain of salt, penning odes to Justin Bieber and turning Carly Rae Jepsen’s biggest hit into the funhouse anthem “Give Me Scabies.”
With her latest offering, the D.A.I.S.Y. Rage EP, the Florida native is trying a little harder. Kitty approached the eight-song project with the intention of taking her career seriously, focusing on producing better work after realizing that she could make an impact within the genre.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to be a rapper anymore. But I had come to New York and started making friends with other rappers,” recalls Kitty, who tells Billboard that Danny Brown encouraged her to pursue her passion. “It took me a while to have songs that I wasn’t super embarrassed of — even though now I’ve recorded them and there’s some regret.”
Her pause doesn’t shine through on the EP, an electro-singed collection of chanting tracks that tout beefier production than previous recordings. The harp-laden “No Offense” plays to Kitty’s dream-rap leanings, while “R.R.E.A.M.” is a dizzying ode to Benadryl that re-interpolates Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” She also revisits “ay shawty: THE SHREKONING,” a gooey cut featured on last summer’s Haha I’m Here EP that recurs as “Ay Shawty” featuring Lakutis.
“It’s a completely different song. But I think it shows that I put work into something,” says Kitty, who normally does tracks in one shot. “I don’t know if it even sounds like that, maybe. I was kind of drunk when I recorded that because I was scared to do it around Lakutis. It was a little bit off, and I wouldn’t do any more takes, so it doesn’t sound that great. But, you know, whatever.”
Kitty’s early introduction to rap was more or less a gag. She released projects titled Jokers in Trousers and The Lizzie McGuire Experience, posting half-sarcastic entries on Tumblr and treating music like a teenage pipe dream. But the redhead mounted Web interest through music videos shot in her bedroom and on the boardwalk with fellow rapper Riff Raff.
When it came time to record D.A.I.S.Y. Rage, Kitty was prepared to lay down a genuine release. She started writing tracks in July and hit the studio in the end of October, petrified by the professional atmosphere. “I actually did it in a studio, which was so awful and terrifying. I hate studios so much. I had to seriously do psychological warm-ups before I went to that studio, it was really weird,” says Kitty, who admits to crying after every live performance. “But I guess in the end, you can at least understand what I’m saying now and it doesn’t sound like I’m talking through a tin can. So hopefully that’s better.”
The independent release, which took a week to record and another to mix, came on the heels of label interest. Even so, Kitty had seen from firsthand experience that inking a deal with a major could hamper her creative integrity. “I’m scared of labels because even before I started rapping, I have a lot of friends at home that are in bands and you hear stories about how they can tell you what to do and keep you from putting out stuff and make you change stuff that you do,” she says. “I’m not on a label right now, at all. I don’t really know what I want to do, but hopefully something cool will happen.”
Currently based in Florida, Kitty is splitting her time between her native Daytona Beach and Brooklyn, where she hangs out with her boyfriend Hot Sugar. Her daily musings can be found on her Tumblr, where she opens up about her battle with an eating disorder and dismissively responds to anonymous anti-comments.
To Kitty, a presence on the social media platform allows her to communicate with those who battle the same demons. “It seems like it would be a teenage girl thing,” says Kitty, who takes offense to the label “Tumblr-wave” often applied to her music. “It’s where people talk about gross or dumb emotional stuff, and that’s what all my songs sound like: someone’s blog post. Which they are. So that makes sense, I guess.”
Following the release of D.A.I.S.Y. Rage, Kitty has no specific plans to drop more music, but promises guest appearances on songs with Ryan Hemsworth and Hot Sugar (she most recently collaborated with Le1f on “Pocahontas”).
“I’m definitely not going anywhere, and there’s a lot of stuff I always wanted to do,” she says. “I’m just kind of doing what happens, taking whatever comes. If I don’t wind up being a rapper, it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to stop me from making music, because if I stop making money, I’d get another job and still make music. Whatever.”