K. Flay on Money, Education and Why She's Okay With Having No Street Cred

Also listen to an exclusive K.Flay remix of Danny Brown's 'She Wanna Party All the Time'

k flay
Jason Barbagelott
K. Flay
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Click to listen to Danny Brown's 'She Wanna Party All The Time (K. Flay Remix)'

Contrary to her verse in "Free N Easy," K.Flay did not spend her trust fund just on coffee. That’s because the 26-year-old rapper and producer didn’t inherit any trust fund. "It was more just commentary on all these people who have no idea what to do with their money," she told Rolling Stone.

K. Flay didn’t set out to be a rapper. She started making music as an enjoyable extracurricular during her sophomore year at Stanford University. She now has a catalog that consists of a mixtape of mash-ups, an EP she wrote and produced in a basement, another three-volume mixtape and the just-released EP, Eyes Shut. K. Flay’s prolific, self-propelled efforts nabbed her a recording contract with RCA. Her debut album is expected sometime this summer.

"We Hate Everyone," the first single off Eyes Shut, was co-produced by The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett, and it’s this type of collaboration, unusual in rap, that epitomizes K. Flay’s indie style. Jamming in drums and guitar on top of bass-happy beats, her music is ultimately more indie electronic than hip-hop.

But even with all these loud layers, there is no overshadowing K. Flay’s quick fire rhymes, loaded with clever wordplay about suburban discontent and delivered in 20-something, angst-smeared smug. It’s this unique sonic concoction that explains why the rapper has been asked to open for such diverse artists as Snoop Dogg, Passion Pit and fellow genre-bender Theophilus London.

Although she lacks the trust fund to prove it, K. Flay (born Kristine Flaherty) grew up in an affluent suburb of Chicago and received two diplomas while at Stanford (psychology and sociology). Yes, K. Flay has absolutely zero street cred. But what may seem like a detriment for any up-and-coming rapper is not a chip on her shoulder. For it’s K. Flay’s brainy quirks, her angry girl-next-door delivery, her rebel chick charm that has propelled her forward.

But if comparisons can’t be avoided, K. Flay is more of an honorary Beastie Girl. Her remix of the Beastie Boys’ "Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win" featured guest vocals by Santigold.

K. Flay’s new career track makes her dual college degree almost futile, but she still advised against dropping out of college.

"A college degree is not essential," she said, "but if you’re already in college and if it’s at all possible, you should definitely try to finish. In college you have a very supportive community right there, and it can give you opportunities to try out new things."

What K. Flay does take from traditional rap roots is the autobiographical sentiments in her lyrics. Though happy-go-lucky in person, K. Flay’s songs reveal a more complex artist frustrated with youth apathy and parental disapproval.

"It’s very introspective," K. Flay said. "But I don’t know if it’s that dark. It’s all stuff that I’ve gone through, or stuff my friends have gone through. We all seem to be ok now."

Never tongue-tied, K. Flay does stick her tongue in her cheek sometimes. She raps about silly things, too, like an Elle Fanning poster her roommate had when she lived in San Francisco. And as for the veracity behind partying with "the old-school cast of Felicity" – a verse in "Party," her smart men’s Ke$ha ode to debauchery? "That is still an unfulfilled dream of mine," she confessed.

Speaking of partying, listen to the above exclusive K. Flay remix of "Party All the Time" by Fool’s Gold artist Danny Brown.