Q&A: Kitty On Danny Brown, Sharpening Her Rap Skills, And What’s Next
If “keeping it real” still matters at all in hip-hop, Kitty (formerly Pryde) ceremoniously dismantled the notion that she doesn’t this week when she published a mini-treatise on the complicated politics of sexual assault. Yet regardless of her consistently brainy web engagement, she continues to be regarded as merely a meme. Before her piece hit the web, we had plans to talk to her about exactly that: Her status as a serious rapper and how she got to be where she is, despite a lot of naysaying. Read our interview below, where she and I discuss her friendship with Danny Brown, her own origin story, and her future projects, including books and film. Her latest mixtape D.A.I.S.Y. Rage is available here.
Kitty and I spoke the day her piece on “the whole Danny Brown oral sex thing” was published, so a lot of the below Q&A is of a sensitive nature. Please be advised that some of the content may be triggering for some readers.
STEREOGUM: Are you at all taken aback by the reaction to the article?
KITTY: Nobody thinks about it. At first, we all went backstage, laughing. Obviously there were a bunch of girls back there. It was funny and everybody was drunk. By the time we got back to the hotel, I wasn’t drunk anymore, I was just pissed off. When I tried to say I was upset on my blog — obviously, if it’s on Tumblr, everybody can respond to the shit and send me messages and tell me I’m wrong and shaming sluts, so I was just like, forget it. I’m not even gonna bother. But then over the past couple days, it’s been super awful for Danny to have to read all this shit. There was one article that was the last straw, where some guy said, “I would have to consider this event when booking Danny Brown and Kitty Pryde in the future.” And I was like, Fuck you. You should ask the girls you’re letting in if they plan on sucking Danny Brown’s dick tonight. I was super mad about it, Danny was really upset, and we were talking about it, but Danny doesn’t want to acknowledge it. It’s hard for him to do. Now, people are listening to me. Finally. I been smarter than you guys this whole time.
STEREOGUM: In college I presented a paper about male sexual assault. This one kid in my class said, “Wait, one time this girl was in my car and she tried to pull down my pants. I told her not to, but she did anyway. Is that it?” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s assault,” and our professor was like, “I don’t know what kind of guy you are to try and turn that down.” It blew my mind. And I’m like, You’re making him feel worse about it. If that’s something that he felt messed up about …
KITTY: And that’s what I wanted to think about! I remember everything people were saying after it. Even Kendrick acting like it’s some cool shit, I don’t know. And had Danny done anything else, other than let it happen for a second and then move [with] people [potentially] tweeting, “Yo Danny Brown is gay, he doesn’t want a girl sucking his dick so he’s gay.” And it’s just an image, he has to uphold his image. But the worst thing about somebody being attacked like that is to have to fucking read about how it’s their fault and have Ricky Smiley discussing how you getting assaulted is your fault.
STEREOGUM: It’s odd to me what people choose to ignore. When you’re given a platform that’s so much larger than your Tumblr, it’s hard not to pay attention. Part of the reason I became interested in you was something that I read on Tumblr that you wrote about your own rape.
KITTY: I got a lot of shit for that, too.
STEREOGUM: There’s a certain kind of perspective that people disregard. For example, when you talked about how there shouldn’t be an expectation for survivors to speak out about their assault, lest we look like we’re not helping the cause even though it should be our choice. What makes you speak with so much candor?
KITTY: I think it’s just when I’m mad enough. I don’t know why it is, but I always end up having the opinion that everybody else thinks is stupid or wrong. I don’t feel like I’m a dumb person but I always have the absolute wrong opinion. Before I had a bunch of people following me on Tumblr who would take my opinion seriously. If I said something like that, everybody would just be like, Dude, seriously. Stop. And then when I started dating Nick [producer Hot Sugar], I told him about what happened to me and I had never really told anybody before, but I never had a boyfriend who was a good person that I trusted. I told him and he was super appalled by it and asked me, “Why are you not crying while telling me this story?”
STEREOGUM: Well, we can talk about happier stuff now. Clearly, you have an interest in writing, but what made you decide to start rapping?
KITTY: I used to write a lot of poetry in high school and middle school and I won a contest, so a bunch of people, I guess, read my poem in class. And this one black dude who I thought was cool said, “You could probably rap if you wanted to” So I tried to, but it just ended up being me making fun of my ex-boyfriend being mean to me. It was just a joke, so I put it on my Tumblr and then everybody that read my Tumblr –- only people that I knew at that point, I didn’t have a Tumblr following –- thought it was funny so I just kept making more funny songs because I had Garageband. It was just a thing to do.
STEREOGUM: Is that song out?
KITTY: I think it might be hard to find because I tried to get it to go away because it’s so bad. I didn’t want people to look for my music and be like, “Wait, stop.” It’s called, “Roger That,” and it’s out [there], if you want to find that somewhere.
STEREOGUM: What year was that?
KITTY: That was the end of 2011.
STEREOGUM: So this is a fairly new endeavor.
KITTY: Yeah, it’s like super new. I guess it’s not anymore. It’s been a year [since “Okay Cupid“], I just realized that. It’s been a year since my only popular song came out so it’s weird, but it doesn’t feel like it [has been that long].
STEREOGUM: You should have put a video out for “Thanks Kathryn Obvious.”
KITTY: Yeah, but I don’t like that one. I shouted out too many people that I hate now.
STEREOGUM: When did you record it and the rest of The Lizzie McGuire Experience?
KITTY: It was over the course of the year, mid-2011 to mid-2012. Whenever I got bored, I would post something on my blog and, over time I got into a circle of hip-hop bloggers. Then we started a Facebook group and it got really intense. But I didn’t upload them myself, just some kid who read my blog a lot uploaded the songs that he had just ripped off [of it], then put them on Mediafire, and called it a mixtape. I was like, “Wow. Thanks a lot, that’s embarrassing.” I didn’t tell him to take it down because I didn’t think anybody would see it.
STEREOGUM: But did you want people to see it?
KITTY: I just did it because it was funny and I didn’t mean for it to become a thing. I would just post it and make people laugh about it.
STEREOGUM: What was the thing that made you change your mind?
KITTY: It was Danny. Not to be a dick-rider, but [when] I made “Okay Cupid,” I was just messing around. But [because of it], he and I ended up being good friends. After “Okay Cupid,” most of the songs were just me trying to make more people mad because I thought it was funny. But after awhile, it was just like, I don’t have to sit and get attacked by thousands of people on the Internet, I could just not do it anymore. And Danny was just said “[Don’t stop] because you’re smart and you’re a better rapper than any other girl right now, and you need to do it, and keep doing it.” I was like “Okay, but you’re going to have to back me up on this because nobody has.” And he did and always has. He is now [too], because he fought to have me on tour instead of some guy people actually care about.
STEREOGUM: But there has to be an entryway before or even into making the “Okay Cupid” video. How did that come about?
KITTY: Well, I made that stupid song about Justin Bieber, which is an extreme joke that I made for my friend because she’d been talking about Justin Bieber. Then I posted it in that Facebook group and Beautiful Lou heard it. He got excited because he was like, “You’re a really good rapper. I want to send you beats.” And I was excited because that was right after he produced for [A$AP] Rocky and he was doing stuff with Lil B. Then I had all these cool beats. I was sitting in traffic and I was bored, so I wrote “Okay Cupid” about my boyfriend and posted it on Tumblr. I wasn’t even serious and I kind of thought it was a bad song and in the morning when I woke up it was poppin’ off on Tumblr and people were writing reviews of it. It was crazy.
STEREOGUM: Because of Beautiful Lou?
KITTY: I don’t know if it’s because of Beautiful Lou, because he didn’t really say a lot about it. At the time, there wasn’t much stuff that sounded like that, right now “Okay Cupid” is just a basic song compared to whatever everyone else is doing. But last year, it was kind of a new thing and so people were reviewing it. Record label people were hitting me up for interviews and I didn’t know what to say because why do these people want to talk to me? There was someone in the Facebook group and he was like, “I manage Main Attrakionz, so if you want me to answer these people for you, I can answer [reporters] right instead of you saying something stupid and ruining your life.” One of his friends from Boston, a film student, was on vacation in Florida that week so I was like yeah, [come shoot a video], but I didn’t care that much, so I had him come to my house while we were having a garage sale. It came out cool, but, at the time, I was like, this is so embarrassing. Like [my friend] Annie’s room is messy, we all look bad, I was like this is whatever. But then when it did come out it went all crazy and it was terrifying.
STEREOGUM: It felt styled. The Yeastie Girlz shirt, “Danny Brown” written on the binder …
KITTY: It was literally just Annie’s room. People were talking about the “well-placed Justin Bieber posters” and it’s because we have fucking Justin Bieber posters … like what? I thought it was hilarious because at the time it seemed like the best troll ever. These people think I’m an industry plant and I’m 27 and I’m pretending to just be a normal kid, but I’m not actually. But I am a normal kid!
STEREOGUM: How did you meet Danny Brown?
KITTY: He was in the [Facebook] group, too, but I didn’t even know that until very recently. A$AP Yams was in there, but I didn’t know Danny was. I did a Max B cover a super long time ago, back when I was first doing things. I guess Danny heard it and just kept silently listening to my music, like he didn’t ever say anything to me about it. There was a week where I crashed my car, so I didn’t have a car and I just sat on the internet for two weeks. That was when I was at the peak of my Danny obsession, so I just learned everything about him and tweeted at him all the time. I guess he saw that video — I just had a big crush on him then — and after, he hit me up and was telling me that he was proud of me and he thought I was good at music. I thought I was just okay, so I didn’t take him seriously. But I didn’t meet him until we had a photoshoot together in New York like a month later.
STEREOGUM: How did that come about?
KITTY: When the New York Times article came out, Danny literally called me and said, “Can you come to New York tomorrow to model for this photoshoot for [Mark McNairy]?” And I’m just like, “Whatever you say dude. I would literally do anything you want.” My mom came and that was the first time we met.
KITTY: He’s very, very in tune to the Internet, which you may or may not be able to tell, but he sees everything. When “Okay Cupid” was a big deal, he immediately followed me and listened to my other songs. One of them literally says his name in it. He thought that was cool and he messaged me on Twitter and was like, “Do you want to do a song?” I didn’t realize it was that big of a deal, it was just like, Oh this is cool, Riff Raff. I sent him a beat and we both did like 10 minutes each. He did a verse in 10 minutes and mailed it back to me and I did one really quick. A camera crew showed up a week later in Daytona and I didn’t even know they were coming. I didn’t think it would come out. I didn’t even know what they were going to do, but then they put it out like the day after my [first New York] show and I was like, “Dammit.”
STEREOGUM: Danny’s encouragement aside, that must have forced you to look at rapping as a career very critically.
KITTY: I had to start taking it more seriously then. I couldn’t keep making jokes as much. If I was gonna make jokes, I figured I was gonna have to be good at rapping while I’m making jokes. I’m still at that stage.
STEREOGUM: What is your tactic for improving?
KITTY: I plan things out more. Now I write down everything. Before, I would sit down at a certain time and figure out things all at once. Now, every single thing that comes into my head that I think sounds cool out loud, I write down. I also listen to a lot more diverse music. At the time, I was listening literally to Soulja Boy all the time. But now I like to listen to all kinds of hip-hop to figure out what I want to do. I’m training. I’m like the Karate Kid.
STEREOGUM: When did you start listening to rap? You’re young enough, though, where it could have just always been around.
KITTY: When I was little, my dad would play A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul and stuff. So I was into that when I was a little kid just because I thought it was fun, but when I was in middle school, I went to a Christian private school that was very scary. I had never been allowed to [listen to rap] so I just got really into it because it seemed like a thing to do. It was when snap music, like Young Joc, was on the radio.
STEREOGUM: What are you listening to now “in training”?
KITTY: I try to listen to everything that comes out, at least a little bit. Like everything that comes out, but I’m not as good at it as I could be. Nick hears everything. Chippy Nonstop, she knows everyone, so she’ll always tell me. But I listen to hip-hop as a thinking thing, like training. When I’m listening to it, I’m not usually having fun. Like 2 Chainz I’m down to get excited for, but I don’t sit and listen to Ghostface for hours for fun, y’know?
STEREOGUM: So you really are studying. Do you dig backward? Are you at home listening to, say, the first Lil’ Kim record?
KITTY: Exactly! Especially Nicki Minaj. If you start at her first-ever feature and then go all the way up to her last album, it’s the craziest transformation in the world. And it’s kinda the same with Lil’ Kim. Also Gangsta Boo, who is kind of my friend now which is weird. But she used to be in Three 6 Mafia. She’s just the coolest thing. Stuff like that.
STEREOGUM: I would imagine the next material comes after the tour. How’s that going?
KITTY: It’s going very well to be honest. But there’s no crowd that will come to a show I’m opening and care very much about me, so if I’m trying to be ridiculous and obnoxious and people are just staring at me like I’m retarded, that will make me sad. So after every show that I open, I’m always in a corner like crying for ten minutes. And then I don’t care anymore I’m just over it. But I think I’m getting fans. I think that might be the point of me being here.
STEREOGUM: Then are you gonna put out a proper album? Who are you going to work with?
KITTY: I don’t really know everybody yet, but the people I’m already like absolutely working with Grimes and Hot Sugar, of course. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Wristcutters from a few years ago, the guy who scored that movie [Bobby Johnson] is gonna kind of executive produce. I don’t really want to get features from anybody I’m not already friends with. I want [Lakutis] to be in a song. I think our songs are adorable. Our video [for “Ay Shawty”] is gonna come out, too.
STEREOGUM: Where did you guys shoot it?
KITTY: We went to L.A. and this guy, he’s a director of things. [laughs] “Director of things!” I mean he’s a fan and I just got connected to him through this other documentarian guy who shooting this thing about me and Nick, but his name is Peter Wu and he was a cinematographer for X-Men 3, which I thought was hilarious.
STEREOGUM: Wait somebody is doing a documentary about you and Hot Sugar?
KITTY: Yeah, [Adam Bhala Lough] the guy that did The Carter documentary.
STEREOGUM: Whoa that’s kinda …
STEREOGUM: Are you worried about that all?
KITTY: I think it’s cool because me and Nick live a life that nobody in the whole world lives. Both of our jobs and what both of us have to do every day is just crazy and there’s just no other way to explain it to everybody, so I think a documentary is actually really cool. But sometimes it’s really creepy.
STEREOGUM: The filmmaker, doesn’t he have a legion of legal troubles right now because of the Wayne doc?
KITTY: I don’t really ask because I don’t think he wants to talk about it. I would imagine so, considering what was in that. ‘Cuz it was real. It was too real. I’m worried that ours is gonna get too real, but so far it’s just been good. I try not to act to stupid when they’re around so …
STEREOGUM: I heard a rumor that you were going to write a book.
KITTY: I am gonna write a book. I’m writing a book. It’s all non-fiction, like the things I write for Noisey about the weird stuff that happens in the industry. Nobody talks about it because there’s certain stuff you just assume like, “Oh yeah, rappers are sketchy …” and I don’t know, groupies exist. But you just never know the actual shit that goes on if you’re just a white person in the middle of Florida like me. I didn’t expect any of this shit, so I wanna write about it but not in a 50 Cent movie way. I’m always just sitting there watching the stupid shit happen but like nobody involves me. I just observe all these events, and I want to write about them. I’m probably gonna get sued, but whatever.