K. Flay aka Kristine Flaherty is skilled. She is a musician, a singer, a hip-hop producer and a rapper.
During her freshman year at Stanford University as a dare Kristine wrote a pop-rap parody, which she enjoyed enough to start taking hip-hop lyricism and beat-making seriously. Almost 9 years later we are better off because it. She has clearly honed her writing, her delivery, her production to the point where every lyric she conjures up sounds ridiculously natural. K. Flay was made to rap.
Her cover of the Zombies ‘Time of the Season’ sounds unforced and soulful. I’m wary of musical hybrids and I tend to avoid indie-rock-electro-rap cocktails, figuring that the flavours will clash or will be sickly sweet. Yet Kristine has written and recorded some perfect songs, which feature the angst, playfulness and sarcastic cultural critique of indie-rock, the foul-mouthed ferocity and know thy self-analysis of rap music with melodic, hynoptic choruses and hooks to kill for.
Her ‘Eyes Shut’ EP is particularly strong. Check ‘Sunburn’.
And ‘We Hate Everyone’ melds tongue-in-cheek loathing with real emotional wounds that have yet to heal.
‘Less Than Zero’ has got that overcast intensity that makes me think Kristine should collaborate with hip-hop left-fielders like Dark Time Sunshine or the Anticon chaps. They would be well matched.
K Flay’s various recordings together form an emotionally dense, joy-meets-sorrow, confidence-meets-self-doubt, drunken-fratparty-meets-geek, lunatic-lover-of-language explosion. She elevates rap by bringing a long-overdue worldview and woman-next-door perspective in the form of winsome, bittersweet, uncensored and intelligent rap songs.
Sandra Oh’s character in the 1998 end-of-the-world movie ‘Last Night’ tells the man she’s just met: ‘You’d better hurry up. Tell me something to make me love you.’
Kristine isn’t trying to emotionally manipulate us to make us love her. But she clearly connects with her fans both in her cathartic performances and her disarming video blogs. I will certainly be following her future projects. Anticipating the various rites of passage a North American woman in her late 20s – early 30s goes through what kind of music will K Flay be making in ten years time? And how will she deal with the crazy curve-balls life will throw at her? I, for one, am dead curious to find out. I’m gonna start by listening to her new bruiser of a mixtape/album: West Ghost. Visit her site and download it here.
By the way, I realize that this post is riddled with hyphens. I’ll try to make sure it never happens again.