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Rockin' Our Turntable: Kid Sister

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 12, 2009 7:40PM

2009_11_Ultraviolet.jpg Our first clue that Kid Sister -- Melisa Young-- was on the road to fame is when she apologized to a friend of ours while telling him she wouldn't be able to babysit his kids any longer due to her hectic travel schedule. This also offers some insight into what it is that sets her apart from so many other hip-hop-popsters; even while shooting videos with Kanye West she was picking up work on the side babysitting for friends. It's that combination of a solid work ethic and her lack of pretension that makes her debut, Ultraviolet, such a satisfying listen.

The album was supposed to come out last year under a different title, and after numerous delays we honestly began to wonder if it would ever drop, but we are satisfied in saying the delay produced a better album. Many of the more traditional hip-hop songs on the earlier disc -- "Damn Girl," Family Reunion," and "Beeper" to name a few -- were sacrificed in favor of a pop flavored club banger vibe. The songs that made the cut give the impression of being developed by a lover of ''80s club and hip-hop culture who wasn't old enough to actually experience it first hand. That is to say, Kid Sister takes an idealized view of a particular point in time, updates it with sonic grit from her here and now, and ends up producing a timeless party album.

The production throughout is consistently strong, but to us the true selling point of the Kid Sister tunes here lie within Young's distinctive vocal delivery. Her sing-song raps, and unvarnished soul turns win through the slight rasp that lies in her breathy but solid delivery. And when she invites other singers to join in, she makes smart selections. Estelle's chorus in "Step" underscores a male courter's particular fuck-up and failed advances, and DJ Grant-Man's exhortation on the juketastic simplicity of "Switch Board" is what drives the song, and future dance floors, into overdrive.

So was the album worth the wait? Yes, it was. By taking the time to fine-tune her approach, Kid Sister has delivered a party album Chicago has long deserved.

Ultraviolet is out November 17

Kid Sister plays November 25 at House Of Blues, 329 N Dearborn, 6:30 p.m., $16 advance / $18 day of, all ages