She calls herself Miss Rappin Jon Benet, but she's more like the
rappin' Dennis Miller. Her rhymes include arcane references to things
(or people) like Steve Case, Dali and Tupperware. She calls herself
the Black Shirley Temple, but she doesn't wear tap shoes, and instead
of singing about the Good Ship Lollipop, she sings "oochie wally
wally leave it to my beaver." She's Princess Superstar, also known as
I first discovered Her Highness in 1995, after she released
Strictly Platinum. I played the CD endlessly. I liked the
music, which had a rough, choppy, blues-mixed-with-rock sound, like
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. But I always went back for the hilarious
surprises she created in her lyrics, juxtaposing her saucy Lower East
Side persona with references to her white, Jewish, suburban
Earlier this year she released her fourth CD, Princess Superstar
Is. The disc, which she wrote and produced, mixes rock and rap,
like her earlier releases. But the sound is more polished; the
cut-and-paste feel has been replaced by seamless sampling and smooth
soul. And her delivery has improved; she sounds like a different
person than she did when I last listened. She actually raps now, fast
On her new disc, the Princess takes part in hip-hop's macho bravura,
bragging about her designer duds and graphically describing sexual
conquests, but she contrasts it with a recorded telephone message
from her mother, who says "Oh my God, honey, that's great! Kool
Keith. ... What did you say he sang?" And an embarrassing description
of her digestive woes: "Fart in my hot pants in a crowded theater at
Sundance (must have been the hot ranch)." But you can't get turned
off; she looks like Gwen Stefani's grown-up, sexier sister.
On the CD's second track, "Bad Babysitter," she's a 15-year-old
babysitter, trying to get her little charge off to bed so she and her
boyfriend can have sex after she masturbates and eats all the
family's food. Against what sounds like a looped sample from a
game-show theme, she brags, "I'm a bad babysitter, got my boyfriend
in your shower/ Woo! I'm makin' six bucks an hour."
Like many hip-hop CDs, Princess Superstar has an impressive
lineup of guests. High and Mighty is her bad babysitter's employer.
And on the next track, she and Kool Keith engage in rhyming foreplay.
But she's not all tough and tawdry. She and Beth Orton, the English
folk singer who always shows up on DJ tracks, team up on the moody
and introspective "Untouchable Part 2." It's an odd mix, her pouty
rap about a bruised ego followed by Orton's slow and somber chorus.
But after a few listens it blends together; Orton's voice, it seems,
can go anywhere.
On "Welcome to My World," which sounds like it has bits of the
"Sesame Street" theme running through it, and "Who Writes Your
Lyrics," the Princess outlines her professional and personal life
history, taking swipes at those who've compared her to Eminem and
Li'l Kim. She's neither. In her own words, she's a cunning linguist
who happens to have nicer tits than all The Bangles. And her CD is
good. She deserves all the lavish praise she gives herself.