It’s easy to dismiss Kid Sister at this point. She hit the scene more than three years ago as a hip-hop wunderkind, and she was all boast and bravado. She moved on up from Chicago house parties with her brother, one half of the DJ duo Flosstradamus, to being a brief female sidekick to Kanye West. Soon enough, she was signed to Fool’s Gold, the label of West’s DJ A-Trak, storming the Internet with singles from her upcoming album, which was quickly gaining hype. Downtown Records snatched her up quickly, hoping she would come through on the commercial crossover appeal her music promised.
Then, nothing. She would show up from time to time, in an interview, ambiguously talking about the album (which, over time, was titled Dream Date and Koko B. Ware). She would show up for a short guest verse here and there. The word around the rumor mill was that her album was finished, later scrapped, and was now being reworked. A few producers would remix the same few songs, which had now been floating around for over two years. Most thought she faded into obscurity or, more realistically, forgot she ever existed.
Now here she is, finally with an album in her hands — and it’s quite a surprise. The old jams are still here, and they still burn. “Pro Nails,” even with a throwaway verse from Kanye, still rocks one of the better choruses to ruin your throat in the club; “Right Hand Hi,” the first single, puts her hometown roots upfront with four-on-the-floor and synth stabs, with the added bonus proof she’s actually a good rapper behind all the production shine. The best songs here, though, are the new ones. “Daydreaming,” featuring Cee-lo and some actual singing from Kid Sis, pretty much jumps out and demands to be a single, with its floating, ambient keyboards and sugar coated chorus. “Life on TV,” at the other end of the spectrum, is a total throw-you-hands-up crowd pleaser, reminiscent of early Salt-n-Pepa.
As an album, Ultraviolet lacks a momentum building third act needed to keep the energy sustaining that has already been built up. “Swithboard,” a juke-house track featuring legendary Chicago DJ Gant-Man, with its call-and-response throwdown of “She got a Coca-Cola shake with an onion in the back,” feels too much like a desperate attempt to attach herself to a genre. “54321” is complete filler, a carbon-copy of other tracks on the album done with more energy and style, and it’s here that the real problem with the album rests. By the final third, the production begins to feel tired, the energy not as high as it once was, everything beginning to sound the same. Kid Sister lacks the wide-angle genre hopping of M.I.A and Santigold, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s only that, even when they are not at the top of their specific games, their albums are rarely boring.
Kid Sis has elected to keep things simple — so when the album works, it becomes clear that it really works. No matter how successful the album becomes commercially, it leaves room for her to grow and, more important, leaves the listener wondering where she will go from here. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take her another three years to let us know.