Buzz, Backlash, Tumblr Rap, and Kitty Pryde


By Confusion

Internet Hype has officially jumped the shark, and “buzz” is getting closer and closer to becoming a dirty word. Part of the problem is that things are moving too fast and too many of the same people are plugged in on the same wavelength, influencing each other and feeding off one another. When something like, say, Lana Del Rey comes along, it doesn’t take long before everyone is talking about it. It starts off well. Everyone is jumping on board the train, high-fiving, and laughing like hyenas as the speed picks up. At some point, for some reason, someone decides to jump off. The balance is thrown. People are freaking the fuck out. Some hold on even harder, others jump like lemmings. There is argument, confusion, and chaos. It’s a shit show. A fucking shit show.

If you dive into it and try to come up with an explanation, it’s probably all tied into how fast the Internet moves. Updating a Facebook status once a day has turned into updating every 5 minutes on one social network or another, sharing everything you see, talking about everything that’s out there, and of course consuming as much as humanly possible. It’s obvious how this has affected music. We don’t buy a CD, ride around with it in our car for 3 months straight, then decide what we think. We listen to snippets of 10 songs, then hit Twitter and talk about how it’s the best or worst album of the year, and then we move on. It’s sad in some ways, it’s just human nature in others. Human nature on speed. Human nature on high speed.

This rate of consumption has trickled down into the media. Media outlets have realized how fast everything is moving, and how they need to react just as quickly. It’s not about coming up with some great piece two weeks after the fact, it’s about being part of the conversation as it’s happening. We jump on board, we scramble to form opinions, we share. We try to react just as quickly as everyone else, and as thoughtful as we try to be, we often end up on that train, surrounded by screaming, laughing, argument, confusion, and chaos. No matter how professional or thoughtful, it’s close to impossible for the quick-drawing media to capture a clear picture of what’s really happening. So just like you, we join in, and we react. And then somebody jumps off. Enter the backlash.

Yesterday, Kitty Pryde released her music video for “Okay Cupid.” As Brendan pointed out, Kitty Pryde is “made out of the internet.” The young (she hasn’t said just how young yet) Daytona Beach rapper approaches music in a way only possible in a world in which we’ve come to understand personalities like Lil B. Her Tumblr popularity and style has turned her into a character too fascinating not to be captivated by. She’s obsessed with Danny Brown and Justin Bieber, she’s severely candid but still leaves you wondering, “What’s her story,” and she’s impossibly cute, to the point that guys much older than she is are fawning over her. And that “Okay Cupid” video was her first real “big break,” making her impossible to ignore any longer. It’s also kicked up a murky cloud of disarray, like a frenzy of activity at the bottom of a muddy, stagnant lake.

The reactions so far are greatly varied. Some call her brand of Tumblr Rap the next step in the evolution of hip-hop, some simply call her “the next big thing,” some are already deciding it’s talentless garbage and pointing out who is doing it better, some are stuck on labeling it as a gimmick, and some are just picking it up and offerring their undecidedness with a simple, “What the fuck?” It’s more complicated because she’s already under the management of the same guys who handle Main Attrakionz, and the production by the respected Beautiful Lou adds an element of artistry to what she’s doing that makes it harder to dismiss as value-less. But it’s certainly not just about the music—Kitty Pryde offers a window into a little slice of culture from a new perspective: that of a young girl with a keen sense of “cool” and an understanding of the non-traditional directions that it’s now okay to take with hip-hop.

But a backlash takes another element that has nothing to do with music—it takes hype. Without any hype, there is no backlash to be had. The greater the hype, the more potential for a powerful backlash, and the level of hype around Kitty Pryde right now is at an all-time high, after just 24 hours.

Another thing that makes a backlash seemingly inevitable is that there are a lot of people out there with a sense just as keen as Kitty Pryde. There are people who have seen what has happened with Lana Del Rey, seen what has happened with Kreayshawn, seen how fast the music world embraces someone, and seen how fast it is to chew someone up and spit them back out. There are already people out there grumbling about how many think pieces are going to pop up on Kitty Pryde over the coming days (just watch, it will happen) and already deciding that this is another case of hype gone wild. To put it in terms of the out-of-control train, this Kitty Pryde train is picking up speed fast, and everybody is nervous. Nobody wants to be the last one to jump on, and nobody wants to be the last to jump off. A lot of people would really like to be the first. Just as others start writing up their hype-pieces, the more cunning are writing up their hate-pieces, poising themselves to explain why all these hype mongers are terribly mistaken.

For now, before you get caught up in all this ugly mess, take Kitty Pryde for what she is: something new, something different—a young, white girl with a magnetic, Internet-friendly presence and a cloud-rap sound that makes sense given this new style of hip-hop that’s becoming increasingly popular. There is access to more music than ever right now, and for a lot of reasons, Kitty Pryde has managed to stand out. While you still can, make up your own mind, before everyone else tries to make it up for you. Hate it or love it, it’s enough to win over the attention of a lot of people, and it’s going to be close to impossible not to talk about. For now, sit back and watch, take in what you can, and form an opinion. Whatever you do, stay away from that fucking train.

  • MMK

    Didn’t read, but the song is awful…and so are her looks. Peace!

  • Age 19

    This is pretty much why I’ve started slowly hopping off the boat in the hyperculture that is Tumblr/media blogs. Or at least predicted what I would start doing/experiencing when I made that one comment on your Odd Future post about the internet hype catching its peak and ultimately collapsing on the online music industry itself.

    It’s like mp3s and media just come out every second and we are overloaded/spoiled. That’s honestly what it feels like. Like I don’t even follow memes anymore, and in parallel, I don’t significantly feel excited when something “new” (or even when artists comeback from their proverbial grave) emerges.

    I dunno, man.

  • Mic

    I wonder what people will think of today’s music scene 20 years from now. The internet model isn’t turning out any timeless music, and we won’t remember most of the songs that get churned out at this rate.

  • PancakeMcKennz

    I agree with Age 19 for the most part. Too many new artists come at us too quickly and with how easy it is to become an artist on the internet, some genres just lose their art or quality. It’s like some people are just muscicans just because they can afford a good mike and editing program.

    Lil B is a enigmatic character as a solo artist but remember he started with the Pack so he got his exposure that way. Azealia Banks has been out for a while; she has a good body of material. The Weeknd did three mixtapes in one year and did tours to get where he is now. OF’s been out for a couple of years too.

    With Kitty Pryde, I don’t want to just write her off because she’s “some Tumblr artist” but I just don’t get a sense of anything special from her Bandcamp material. But I could be wrong; I mean, people could’ve written Tyler, the Creator off as another Eminem, but there was a captivating energy and attitude about his crew.

    Basically, what I’m saying is, I just feel like Kitty’s plain. She’s like a lot of girls on Tumblr; I’d know–I’m always on Tumblr. She’s another white girl that “accidentally” uses the N-word. (even if she was joking about that on her Tumblr, not funny)

    I’m not against white girls rapping, it’s just that you have to bring something different to satisfy this one chance society. Kellee Maize for example who’s all about spirituality and all that yoga jazz. It can be corny sometimes, but it’s different–the good kind of different.

    TL;DR — I’m just saying that Kitty’s so plain compared to other Internet-made artists. And she’s defintely like a lot of girls on Tumblr.

    Nothing against you though Con. It’s your duty to tell us about people that could be on the come-up, and it’s your opinion as to what may be the next big thing. As a former blogger, I hyped up a lot of people I thought had that next big thing factor (Margo, Lolene, I Blame Coco) and then people who I thought wouldn’t make it blew up. I guess that’s why I’m out the business (lol) but it’s hit or miss so just keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground.

  • Confusion

    @Panckake I’m not trying to hype her up. She’s an interesting new character, impossible not to talk about, but I think the whole point of this piece is more about why this kind of hype can be toxic. I think she will get a lot of attention really quickly and then there will be backlash.

    @Age 19 I agree that the way things are going on the internet with music now are pretty crazy, but I think they will work themselves out. I think the backlash is part of that, and people are starting to realize that the overnight internet sensation isn’t a sustainable career. If you sit back and see what Adele has done sales-wise, it’s pretty incredible, and she’s on an independent label. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen overnight.

    We’ll see.

  • comehomenow

    The problem is that you can’t just like or not like something without it being labeled ‘hype’ or ‘backlash.’ I liked Lana Del Rey when I first heard her, so I did what I would do when I like anything. I listened to it, tweeted about, blogged about it, etc. I didn’t like Kreayshawn when i first her, so I didn’t do any of those things.

    That’s all there is to it and this is the way it’s always been. Anytime there’s a lot of people who both like and don’t like something, it’s considered internet age hype/backlash. But all the internet has done is allowed a voice for everyone, giving the illusion that it’s any different than before. This happened with The Beatles, disco, boy bands, and it will continue to happen. Just on online.

  • Confusion

    @Comehomenow I don’t agree with that. I think there’s a clear difference between a bunch of people liking something (like Adele) and people all jumping on something at the same time, rushing to cover it and share it the fastest, and speaking on it like it’s the next big thing before theres much to back it up (hype). There’s a clear difference, and even if there’s no real measure of it, you can feel it happen. Even the people who don’t like Kreay or Kitty were drawn into conversations.

    I don’t know, I’d liek to believe that hype is just a lot of people liking something, but I don’t think that’s the case. Hype is a real thing, and the internet has turned it into a beast.

  • Swag

    Ever heard of why? She’s just the lady version

  • Jumi

    No! Don’t do this! Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s good or worth our time. Death Grips, for example, is not something I would actively listen to, but I understand why people like them. I’ll sum it up by saying: they probably like their music as much as their fans. This girl seems to be making music for the sake of making music.

    I’m all for young people paving their way doing something they love, but at the same time I hope she pops and fizzles like any other female faddish act. *Sigh*. I’ll just take Kanye’s advice. “And if you think you could do it better than me, then YOU do it”.

  • comehomenow

    @Confusion I get what you mean in the post. It’s a great post. But I’m not really talking about Adele. I don’t think there’s an equal number of people actively disliking Adele as there are liking Adele. I’m thinking more like the examples I mentioned, like The Beatles, who basically blew up overnight and 6 months later people were burning their records. I think hype/backlash has always existed, I just think everyone having a username to attach to their opinion makes it seem bigger than ever before. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • Jumi

    Nobody can tell and probably even less people care, but I always have a mildly sarcastic or ironic (bleh, I’m a hipster) tone when I’m talking. So just know that I believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion…except for bloggers…you gave up that right.

  • gk

    this chick is a product of tumblr through and through and i think examining the fucked-upness of tumblr is important here. ppl post up pictures and shit of what they think is cool which inherently means what they think other ppl think is cool and you have 12 year olds basically trying to make themselves into brands and honestly if this tumblr rap thing starts blowing up i guarantee its gonna be a contest to see who can squeeze in the most tumblr savvy imagery into their videos. the tumblr world is fucking weird and narcissistic and i know i’m rambling now so i’ll just stop.

  • Confusion

    @Comehomenow Before The Beatles blew up they were doing shows in Europe, playing for 8 hours a day sometimes. I don’t know, there might have been acts that blew up “overnight” but I don’t think it was the same as what’s happening on social networking, where there’s this pressure on media to be up on something as soon as it blows up. I think that has really affected how we form our opinions and process a new artist.

    @Jumi There are tons of artists doing things differently that never get buzz. I think it’s a combo of being different and also appealing to a lot of people, for whatever reason.

  • cole

    i’m with GK on this one, tumblr is apretty weird place (trust me, i spend way too much time on there) and if this trend continues hype is gonna get ruined. There are worthwhile artists that are blowing up because of it, but it can definitely (ex: above) be a bad thing.

  • comehomenow

    That’s a good point. I guess it has all been super accelerated/magnified by the internet. You can put up your first track on youtube and have a deal a week later (Evian Christ!). Literally. A week.

  • tim

    it took you this long to realize that the shelf life of huge mixtapes from huge artists is literally a week? it’s been happening for over a year, i bet you people are already over dreamchasers 2 already and waiting for the third one.

  • Jumi

    Can I also say that I dislike mixtapes. I eventually stopped downloading them because of over-saturation. Artists are more willing to try something new when they can release it for free and that just gives the big labels more of an incentive to keep churning out the same old same old. Because hey, why even bother trying to sell something new if artists are gonna keep releasing their more unique material for no charge (perfect example: Blue Slide Park and Macadelic…nope…that’s a terrible example since Mac is an independent artist). Well, maybe it is a good example. It shows that even independent artists take that route.

    I just realized how irrelevant this comment is to the article. So let me bring this back full circle. There needs to be a balance in hip-hop. Pop (is pop the right genre?) has it with artists like Gotye and Adele. They’re able to try something new and express REAL talent while maintaining a mass market appeal. Arguably the closest thing we have to that in hip-hop is Kanye West. Or maybe he IS the hip-hop equivalent of an artist like Adele. I don’t know. I confused myself. So I guess it’s only right to get Confusion’s feedback. (segue of the century)

  • rivertems

    Is this some experiment by “tastemakers” to see if they can pick out any piece of trash and call it Lil B* and we’ll all believe it? Because….no.

    *Thank you Based God.

  • gk

    Great comment i saw on the fader article about this video:

    “I can’t decide what’s more depressing: Kitty Pryde being an invention of some intrepid rap blogger bent on creating a Kreayshawn 2.0, minus the ugly “White Girl Mob” baggage and with a liberal dose of twee, or a teenage girl who is capable of synthesizing so many different internet memes and checking off so many boxes necessary for Internet buzz (she crushes on Danny Brown! She’s got a Yeastie Girlz t-shirt! She loves Frank Ocean!) that she doesn’t need some hyper-aware Svengali, no not at all, all she needs to do is to spend a few months on Tumblr and she’s pretty got this Internet fame thing figured out.

    This could be an awesome time for female rappers, what with all kinds of rap rules being broken every day, but shit like this is so lacking in humanity that it makes all unorthodox rappers seem like gimmicks.”

  • Saurus

    To say that our age is not creating any timeless music would be foolish, you all still dig SBTRKT debut album right?

    On to her; I don’t think her hype is peaking, as far as I know P&P is the only blog I hear going on about her. I think she’ll pull a Kreaysawn out of her ass and we’ll forget about her soon enough, and in my opinion that’s not bad. I think she’s riding a gimmick; white girl that ‘Lil-B raps’ and has a love for Justin Bieber and Danny Brown, don’t really trust her sincerity

  • Saurus

    Supreme sticker on her apple laptop because.

  • byahbyah

    All I know is kitty pryde can get the d.

  • Tekwon

    I’m on this late I guess but my take is it’s just a few songs. If you like it fine, if not move on. People make music for different reasons and hope someone will like it. If you’re not one of those people then why put any energy into it? Keep it moving…

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