Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Par-baked perspectives of young women: My conversation with Kitty

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 2:35 PM

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Yesterday, as it happened, I was walking with a friend by the Little Econ river, and we were talking about normal things like relationships and our jobs, and my idiot dog (who I love) was doing unending laps around a lake trying to collect two tennis balls at once to bring back to shore. She never quits, because all she ever has to think about in life is ballballballball. That's when the subject of my interview with Kitty came up, and I was explaining how my conversation with the young rapper didn't go as well as I'd hoped and how I even got a lot of shit for writing about her from people who disagree she's worth talking to.

See, I have this fascination with how different young women process and approach society, and if I had all the time in the world, I would talk to every girl between 15 and 20, because I think these early perspectives tremendously impact their eventual worldviews, and it's so rare to hear them voiced while they are par-baking and are predominantly based on independent thought. I was eager to have a conversation with Kitty. It turned out that our conversation was mildly stunted because of some harsh criticisms Kitty has borne from people in our town and, yes, from writers in Orlando Weekly. It sapped a lot of momentum out of the call; either that, or maybe I just don't know how to talk to girls.

So, this takes me to now. I just read Kitty's post in Vice about The Thing that happened to Danny Brown, and if I could, I would like to share it with every person who criticized me for writing a story about Kitty. In it, Kitty defends Brown and rails against hypocrisies, and I fully support her logic and her outburst. I know that we all have our opinions about music, and they're all comprised of our individual tastes cocktailed with whatever critics have said, and this is a perfect parallel to how a young person who does have some experiences to draw upon to shape their outlook on life must protect and pad that perspective based on assails of the advice and musings of those who know better. It's exhausting, sorting your thoughts, especially when you consider how simple the question is: What do you think?

I'm sorry if you don't respect Kitty as an artist, but you don't have to and I didn't ask you to. Instead, I would beg you to fight that instinct of "elders" and sophisticates to discount young perspectives because of cultural and age barriers, because just because a person has fewer experiences - or lesser talent - doesn't negate the value they are capable of contributing in conversations or in art. Sometimes all it takes to fix a problem or spot a snag is a fresh set of eyes.

Right now, I'm in Stardust, and Kitty is rapping through the speakers to all of us hunched over our laptops (I swear, I didn't request it), bent on separate projects and most of us ignoring each other and of course also her, because she's background music, and we are doing Important Things. It seems Kitty is working on Important Things, too, as she alludes in the article to a book she is writing on her observations on the rap lifestyle. Based on what she told me about her studies in interpersonal communication, which was the most fascinating part of my interview with her, for me, she could really end up adding measurably to that canon of pop music nonfiction dominated by older and wiser figures like Jay-Z. Or maybe she won't. She'll be judged either way, but all I ask is that if you've already judged her book by its, um, cover, to stay out of the discussion. Just, shhh - the adults are talking.

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