Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Princess Superstar - Princess Superstar Is (2001)


This is the amazing first album by my latest discovery, and I'm going to tell you how great it is because you've probably never heard of Princess Superstar. That's not really how the voice sounds in my head, but it's thinking something along those lines, which probably serves to illustrate what it's like being in your fifties, as am I. The album came out nearly two fucking decades ago; she's tickled the UK singles charts twice, both occasions when I was still living in England, numbers eleven and three respectively; and this was her fourth album, so once again I'm the last to know, not having received any of the previous four million memos. Never mind.

I vaguely remember Princess Superstar Is coming out, but the sales pitch had her down as the female Eminem which didn't exactly sell it to me. Princess Superstar's own take on the issue of her identity is that she's the black Shirley Temple, which is more informative than she probably realised. Contrary to established wisdom, or what I definitely recall as having been established wisdom at some point, white rappers were never that much of a rarity, and if white female rappers were admittedly a little thinner on the ground, what distinguishes Princess Superstar is that she isn't wearing an African hat, effecting a weird accent, or pretending to be Monie Love - who was, in any case, never much of a role model by my estimation. Princess Superstar's deal is that she keeps it real, as we say in the business, and of course that she's lyrically amazing. She's a girl of undeniably Caucasian ethnicity; she's intelligent, witty, and very, very funny without ever quite seeming like a novelty act; and she doesn't mind admitting to enjoying sexual intercourse, to which she makes frequent reference on this album without coming across like some kind of hoochie mama - so one thing which Princess Superstar Is isn't, is one of those albums of a female rapper cramming in as many references to blow jobs as the wax can support because that's what the dudes want to hear; other dudes, I mean - It just sounds kind of desperate to me because I'm elevated and amazing.

All of this and everything else is communicated with a machine gun spray of syllables at least as dizzying as one of those Marx Brothers routines or some of Big Pun's stuff, not quite so fast that you miss what is said, but some of these tracks definitely benefit from repeat listening. Lyrically the female Kool Keith comparison she offers at one point applies some of the time, but she's otherwise very much her own thing - sex, money, rap, all the troubles of the world, and a shitload of sarcasm scored to a hard, beat heavy soundtrack of late nineties hip-hop drawing on the legacy of DJ Premier, big band, sixties television shows and the like. There's no filler, plenty of standouts, and then Too Much Weight with Bahamadia which is one of those once in a lifetime numbers that tears your fucking heart right out of your chest, and which is astonishing. Also, the excellent J-Zone and the aforementioned Keith pop up on a couple of tracks, possibly literally, so that's nice too; and there's a token reference to Pat Sajak, which I find pleasing. Now th8tz gangsta, as the Reverend Westwood would surely observe in that funny voice he does.

I've just had another look at Wikipedia and additionally realise I actually sort of know one of the blokes* on this record. I have accordingly just invented a new emotion combining pride with the suspicion that I'm actually a complete fucking idiot.

Next week I'll be listening to REO Speedwagon. You probably won't have heard of them. They're new.

*: Ollie Teeba of the Herbaliser to whom I delivered mail back when I was a postman. This really must be what it's like to be senile.

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