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Princess Superstar 

Princess Superstar Is (Rapster/!K7)

It's a difficult task for a woman to gain respect in the male-dominated world of hip-hop. But if that woman happens to be white? It's damn near impossible.

L.A. singer Tairrie B, now of goth-punkers My Ruin, may be the only white female to gain props in the MC game -- and then only because she had the bigwig backing of N.W.A. in its prime. But now comes New York rapper Concetta Kirschner -- a.k.a. Princess Superstar -- throwing down the gauntlet for real with her fourth album, Princess Superstar Is.

Kirschner, whose past releases were largely overlooked, mostly because of lackluster production values and indie marketing, has recruited a host of players from the hip-hop underground for Is. Among them are producer DJ Mighty Mi (High & Mighty, Smut Peddlers), producer/MC JZone, and Philly femme fatale Bahamadia. But the best track on the album, "Keith 'n Me," features the notorious owner of "Kool Keith's Ass," the subject of a sexually charged tribute on Princess Superstar's 1999 album. The duet showcases both the Princess's butter flow and the X-rated stream-of-consciousness style that's made Kool Keith legendary.

More important, the album proves that Princess Superstar can hold down the mic on her own, as best displayed on the acid-tongued diss "You Get Mad at Napster," which features a dramatic rock score produced by Kirschner herself. Unafraid to express both empowerment and sexuality, Princess Superstar approaches hip-hop the same way Madonna approaches pop, and she has the verve, power, and talent to pull it off. Let's hope she has the consistency to do it again.

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