Sun Again - head-nodding pop with a fresh-sexy hop.
Enigmatic yet as open as the juiciest pulp novel atop your bedside table, Canada’s Kinnie Starr pushes artistic boundaries by merely ignoring them. It is with well-founded optimism that she greets 2003. Her third album and first all-English release, Sun Again is set to transform even the most jaded listener.
Ripe with the spirit of collaboration, Sun Again – produced by Starr and drummer John Raham – features a powerhouse of songwriters, performers and guest producers. Reading like a 'who’s who' from the hot West-Coast music scene the album features work and performances by Moka Only, DJ Murge, Coco Love Alcorn, Glen Reely, Futcher, Kia Kadiri, Chin Injeti, Lily Frost, Rob Chursinoff, Chris Carlson, the aforementioned John Raham and Montreal’s ex-Dream Warrior/current Canadian heartthrob Spek.
Starr began making her presence felt around 1995 with edgy visual arts, graffiti, rhymes, outspoken race and gender politics, decidedly unorthodox performances, stunning good looks and envelope-pushing, beat-slamming recordings. This combination earned her a well-deserved and devoted fan base, a record contract with Mercury/Island/DefJam (1996-1999), and an immediate connection with critics and consumers alike.
Kinnie has found no shortage of accolades. "Hip-hop, aggro-groove," wrote L.A.Weekly at the release Tidy in 1996, while Canada's national paper The Globe and Mail declared her, "raw, funny, and definitely an original." After much courting, she signed to the majors but the cookie cutters of the music business pushed the fiercely unique album Mending to the margins, where it remains. Naturally Kinnie walked, dusted herself off and unleashed Tune-Up her second CD, with the same independent spirit with which she had begun. A juggernaut that Toronto's NOW magazine described as rich with "visceral rhymes, napalm delivery, spoken word montages and eagle-eyed surveillance of the three S's --- sexuality, spirituality and society."
Starr’s new record finds more emphasis on the music and less on pointed political statements. “This is the first truly professional record I've made, in the sense that I'm really getting into arranging, melodies, hooks and pop production," she says.
"This record is just more like a record. It's not so overtly about politics. A lot
of my politics get misinterpreted anyways, because they're communicated in metaphor and carry a lot of 'mixed-race' political baggage. I would rather do political research for the sake of research and music for the sake of music."
So instead of trying to fit all her thoughts into an album format, she now channels her race and gender-related studies (Starr is part Mohawk) through journalism, conducting hip-hop workshops in native communities such as the FourCorners (Navajo/Ute/Hopi/Apache territories), and doing volunteer mentoring for Native Youth and Girlpower.
Sun Again is the album where, at last, Starr’s smooth, seductive and easy voice has floated to the forefront as her single most intoxicating weapon. Intelligent and sensual, her “kick back and smile wide” feel is reminiscent of the lazy pace of Sade, India.Arie and the playful musings of De La Soul. Sun Again finds the Vancouver-based singer-actor and artist in a joyful place, one that is lush with sexy, lazy grooves. "In the mornings I wake satisfied," purrs Starr on album opener "Come" in her signature, sing-speak rhyme. On the song "Alright", Starr’s questioning of early love is sung so openly we need to sit down and sigh. On "Super Clever," Starr takes us back to the early spirit of hip-hop a la Slick Rick and Salt ‘N Pepa, taunting and laughing through an old-school tale of narrowly escaping corporate hell. "Discovered" the album’s first single, is a stripped back R&B style narrative supported by killer vocals from Moka Only, Kia Kadiri and Coco Love Alcorn.
Having entranced audiences worldwide (USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany, Holland and the UK), Starr will be carving a broader niche with the help of her co-conspirators at MapleMusic Recordings. She is also a lead in Kurt Voss’s new movie Down and Out with the Dolls where her performance as Reggie, the sexy drummer of an all-girl punk-rock set-to-implode band, has received accolades on the international film festival circuit and is ready to take USA theatre audiences by storm when released March 2003.
How to sum up Sun Again? Sunlight pouring down on closed eyelids. When it comes to Kinnie Starr nothing is taboo, not even positivity.