"I’m doing wonderful alone,” sings Kitty on “Affectionate,” and this will be good news for fans who have certainly wondered. The imminent return of the musician once known as Kitty Pryde should be a source of pride for all Floridians in-the-know, who can point to Kitty as one of the state’s most notable cultural exports in recent years. But we’ll be seeing a new Kitty at Rain Dogs, a new, mature Kitty with a new sound, forged in the crucible of instant fame, with all the pleasures and pitfalls that can entail.
Kitty first hit the national scene in 2012, exploding out of Daytona Beach with her song “Okay Cupid,” the lead track for her second EP, Haha, I’m Sorry, which sent new fans on a scavenger hunt for the 20 tracks she’d already released. The video went instantly viral, making her the It Girl of indie rap for much of the next two years, while forcing some hip hop purists to take the Mayan prophecies a bit more seriously. She followed up with “Orion’s Belt,” which marked the debut of Riff Raff, another very special talent whose style utterly defies description.
After her initial run, Kitty pulled back from the spotlight for several years, moving to New York and (incongruously) adopting a lower profile. Most people thought she’d gotten burned out or joined the X-Men or something, but in reality she was just growing up. “I didn’t really deliberately pull back from the spotlight. I just started making music that was very different from the songs I’d gotten attention for. It alienated people from my music a little bit. I wasn’t bored or burned out–I just didn’t like making rap songs anymore.” She released EPs in 2014 and 2015 that kinda flew under the radar.
Along the way, she did some writing for the Vice-brand music mag Noisey, and even found her way into a couple of movies, while making time for periodic returns to her homebase which, like the rest of Florida, recently dodged a high-caliber bullet in the form of Hurricane Irma. “I’m super-close with my family, so I get homesick. My husband and I visit Daytona Beach every few months. The neighborhoods my family live in now are mostly OK, but places we’ve lived in the past are pretty messed up. I saw a photo of my old street completely flooded, but heard from friends that it recovered pretty quickly. So that is a blessing.”
Kitty’s latest album, the 14-track LP Miami Garden Club, was released online on Aug. 25, her first release since the Frostbite EP in 2014. It marks a significant departure from the style that audiences were accustomed to, slowed-down and atmospheric, with strong EDM flavors and processed vocals placed well back in the mix, although Kitty’s inimical lyrical style and subject matter. It’s a solid album, surprisingly satisfying, that holds up to repeated listening.
The first video is for “Mass Text Booty Call,” one of the album’s catchiest tracks, which she debuted Sept. 17 on YouTube. It epitomizes the somnolescent chaos of the album at large, while “Sugarwater” is a throwback to the Kitty of old. The change might be jarring for listeners who’ve not been paying attention since the days of “D.A.I.S.Y. Rage,” but the artist herself sees it as just part of her personal and professional evolution. “I’ve been working on it since 2015,” she writes, “but some songs I wrote before that. I don’t really know what people expected from it; some people probably expected it to sound like hip hop, but I don’t know if anyone knew what to expect. I think it probably has a lot more singing, and more structured/cohesive songwriting than people expected from me.”
Kitty’s Rain Dogs set will be prefigured by performances from some of our more interesting new local artists, like Dead Bugs, a new rock duo–Lacey Selvagn and Steven Marshek–with an excellent demo available on Bandcamp. There’s also the always-busy Taylor Olin of Dem Godz, whose delightful debut solo EP hit the Soundcloud in July, as well as the fresh new pop-rock stylings of Tabi P (check out her vide for “Crazy” on YouTube), and the drag queen quality from Sweet Tea & Catastrophe. All in all, a stacked lineup, studded with gems, with a diamond in the center. #Florida!