After a wild 2012, Florida rapper Kitty is starting this year with a fresh focus. "I exist in the real world now," the 19-year-old MC, formerly known as Kitty Pryde, tells Rolling Stone. "It's going to be nice because people won't be able to just say that I'm a meme anymore."
Kitty arrived swiftly and unannounced on the Internet last year behind her video for "Okay Cupid." Soon, she was releasing her debut EP haha i'm sorry, playing shows in New York, connecting with then-crush Danny Brown and a slew of other rappers, relocating part-time to New York, finding love with producer Hot Sugar and ending the year on Rolling Stone's 50 Best Songs of 2012.
But the Internet is a tough place, and as quickly as she appeared, so did the skeptics. With her new EP D.A.I.S.Y. Rage out tomorrow, Kitty has augmented her new name with more sweetly hypnotic rhymes that dispel the idea that she's just some sort of cyberspace stoop kid. "Honestly, the whole Internet thing, people kind of made that up themselves," she says. "I did talk about it but not any more than anyone else did, so I think people just kind of assumed that I was just an Internet dweller because that’s where they heard it."
The eight tracks on D.A.I.S.Y. Rage – featuring production from Mike Finito, GRANT, Hot Sugar and more – delve into intimate and personal details, things that may be easy to share semi-anonymously online but are perhaps more difficult to reveal in real life. "R.R.E.A.M." finds an aggravated Kitty scratching "the bumps on her skin" as she plays on Wu-Tang Clan and chants "rash rules everything around me." She rekindles romance on a rework of "Ay Shawty," swapping Orlando rapper Dankte for Das Racist affiliate Lakutis as her love subject with a new beat from Hot Sugar.
She finds time for the haters, too. "Who do your voodoo, bitch? You can't harm me," she raps on "Dead Island," building on a lyric from the theme song to the video game Dead Island (the song's title is clearly no coincidence). Though some people still don't like her, the increasing numbers and visible support of those who do have changed Kitty's perspective on her own music and presence. "It's weird now because I never thought that I'd have anybody looking up to me as like a role model," she says. "Now, I get a lot of messages and stuff [and] people that tell me when I meet them that they look up to me and they want to be like me."
That's a big reason why Kitty has opened up about her past on Tumblr, where she's written about her struggles with body image, an eating disorder and other issues, hoping to set a good example, especially for younger fans. "I don't want to be a negative influence because I've seen so many negative influences on me," she says. "If I can be somebody that can make them feel better about themselves as opposed to other people who might make them feel like they're not good enough or not pretty enough, I think that I should use that power."
As for the name change, she maintains she was never sued by Marvel, but instead felt the plight of unhappy X-Men fans. "If somebody was calling themselves James Franco and I really hated their music and every time I Googled James Franco, I was seeing somebody I hated, that would suck because then I wouldn’t be seeing James Franco," she explains, a fan of comics herself. As true believers know, with great power, there must also come great responsibility.