Wed Jan 16
w/Abstract Rude, 2Mex, Syndel (of Oldominion), DJ Drez, DJ Wicked
Wed Jan 16
Two of America's most interesting emcees are performing in Portland on the same night and, on the surface, Medusa and Princess Superstar are the utter antithesis of each other.
Medusa is the "the queen of underground hiphop," afro'ed and putting pretty much everybody in their place. Princess Superstar, on the other hand, boasts she can "slaughter a man on the microphone." But both ladies have made names for themselves, embracing their power in the man-saturated world of hiphop, with a cocktail of talent and chutzpah.
Concetta Kirschner, aka Princess Superstar, is full-on East Coast (NYC via Philly); an ex-beauty queen full of kitsch and bitch, glitz, glamour, and peroxide. She's one of the battalions of ladies in rap music right now who flaunt their sex as part of their skills, and she's also one of the raunchiest. For instance, the first single off her forthcoming record, Princess Superstar Is, features her and Kool Keith in a slippery conversation about what they're going to do to each other. With a spoonful of irony, Princess Superstar reverses the objectification and tells him, "If this rap game don't work out baby you cut for Chippendales." Even if she is being funny and ironic, though, for most people, her message will always be overshadowed by the fact that she's wearing a dress the size of a promise ring.
Peel away the glistening layers of rhinestones and tight pants and photos of her sucking on lollipops, however, and you'll find a fairly talented, complicated emcee. Princess Superstar is at her best when she's rhyming fast, putting her East Coast fervor to acute lyrical use, and being honest, if not complicated: "I put out my first tape in '94/if you got one, I'll buy it/ I don't got one no more, it was called, 'Mitch Better Get My Bunny'/That shit was shitty but funny/I admit it was dumb, but I did it with no money."
Princess Superstar is smart and lives in duality, in the same way that Bust magazine is smart and dichotomous--ultimately well intentioned, but too complicated and post modern to be very effective. Yet, there's something tender about her bravado. Princess Superstar's feathers are cocked, but we're all aware it's part of her art.
You don't have to look past layers of irony, however, to learn that Medusa is one badass lady. (Her nickname is "the Angela Davis of hiphop," for god's sakes.) She is in control. We know this because of the way she steps to the mic--her voice is low, serious, commanding, guttural. Medusa, who surrounds herself with tough ladies in the form of Feline Science, her 12-piece crew and live band, is the queen of the West Coast underground. She came from Project Blowed (the Los Angeles open mic/hiphop workshop founded by Aceyalone and Abstract Rude), but she holds court like she doesn't need to be bowed down to. Her lyrics are so fresh, you will be on your knees in worship before the end of the lyrics.
On a song produced by Nobody, Medusa rhymes, "This scrimmage in hiphop image is everything/So I'ma dress this beat in leather tongues and suede languages/Back in the days with this/Showing you the flossy of this lyrical hip toss see/My girl Diamond says they consider me bossy/Yeah whatever, your decision will be costly." She spits it husky and full of soul, but you'd expect it no other way. Unlike Princess Superstar, Medusa's not out just for herself--she's full of inspiration and support for the black communities, the lady communities, the community communities. On "Nothing Beats a Failure But a Try," she rhymes: "Don't ever compare yourself to the next man/ we all stars/ some of them use our shine in different ways/ I promise to use mind to pave the way." Her lyrics are full of integrity, and that's what will propel her to the top of the hiphop game.