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Princess Superstar

With her long blond hair, wrap-around shades, and style tips taken straight from Debbie Harry, Concetta Kirshner would seem the least likely person to make her name in the world of alternative hip-hop, where authenticity -- especially in Kirshner's native New York City -- means nearly as much as the music. Nevertheless, in 1994, with dreams of giving the music world something innovative, Kirshner named herself Princess Superstar and made her first demo, armed only with a four-track and two tape decks. The demo was called Mitch Better Get My Bunny, a play on words from a popular urban catch phrase (and a rap song by AMG) at the time. The response to demo was immediate and gained a write up in CMJ magazine's "Futures" section that described Princess Superstar's eclectic mixture of hip-hop, punk rock, and outrageous humor. She signed with 5th Beetle Records and recruited a backup band consisting of Kirsten "Pro" Jansen on drums, Doug Pressman on bass, and Art "F" Lavis on guitar. 5th Beetle released Strictly Platinum in 1996. CMJ called the music "super sly hip-hop with jaw droppingly clever lyrics and inventive sampling;" A.P. went even further with its praise: "If you yearn for the days when a rap record was both exciting and innovative, as well as fun, Strictly Platinum has got your name scrawled across neon peach lipstick." The rest of the press response was similarly overwhelming. Following the buzz, Kirshner moved from her Clinton Street place to Avenue A, where she was christened "The Queen of Avenue A" by CMJ. Strictly Platinum gained momentum, even shooting to the number one spot on some college radio stations in New York and Los Angeles, while also gaining airplay throughout the U.S. and Canada. The band played live shows all over the East Coast and Canada. Strictly Platinum's "Theme Song" and "Flavis Special" were even used on NBC's NBA Roundup and MTV's Slam and Jam. Kirshner took steps toward musical autonomy by the end of 1996 by founding her own record label, the tongue-in-cheek-named A Big Rich Major Label, and vowing never to sign with a "real" major label again. She also assembled a new band: Ski Love Ski on bass, Mike Linn on drums, and DJ Science Center spinning records live. The group recorded the second Princess Superstar album, CEO, which was released in on October 31, 1997. The album again garnered national acclaim. Following the album's release, Princess Superstar booked the Hostile Takeover Tour '98, a six-week tour through the U.S. and Canada, which included playing to a packed house at the South by Southwest music conference. Playing the Transmusicales de Rennes festival in France with Nashville Pussy followed in December of 1999, as did a mini-jaunt in London. Kirshner also spent the beginning of 1999 working on her third Princess Superstar album, Last Of The Great 20th Century Composers, having again assembled a new backing band (Money Mike Linn on drums, DJ Cutless Supreme manning the turntables and playing guitar, and Walter Sipser holding down bass duties). Kirshner also chose to rename A Big Rich Major Label, opting instead for The Corrupt Conglomerate for the release of the third album. By the new millennium, Kirshner hooked up with Curtis Curtis for a fourth album. Princess Superstar Is, which was issued in early 2002, featured collaborations with Kool Keith, the X-Ecutioners' Mista Sinista, Beth Orton, and others. Stanton Swihart

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