The title of Kid Sister’s long-gestating debut, Ultraviolet, nods to the black-light-saturated dance floors and basement parties that her music is designed to soundtrack. The album is an homage to Chicago house, with thudding, four-on-the-floor basslines and synths straight out of the scene’s late-’80s/early-’90s heyday. Ultraviolet does well by its inspiration in the beats department, thanks to hard-hitting production by collaborators like A-Trak, Sinden, and Gant-Man, the latter of whom also guests on the album’s standout ode to juke-house, “Switch Board.” But Kid Sister’s winking lyrics and charismatic flow elevate the album beyond a mere throwback.
The Chicago MC tends to, as she puts it, “rap more about some normal girly shit rather than bump-and-grind,” from blowing off a diet with a box of sale doughnuts (“Let Me Bang 2009”) to the importance of proper manicure maintenance (the Kanye West-assisted 2007 single “Pro Nails,” which reappears here with an added verse). And her husky voice has a cheery quality that renders such lines charming rather than trite and cloying. Kid Sister seems somewhat less comfortable singing than she does rapping—the simple harmony of the stellar album opener “Right Hand Hi” suits both the song and her vocal abilities, but both the Cee-Lo duet “Daydreaming” and the cover of Status 4’s “You Ain’t Really Down” are a little shaky. Still, the album boasts such an excess of brio that this isn’t much of a liability. Ultraviolet is slight in terms of subject matter and concept, but it certainly doesn’t lack in personality.