They grow up so fast don’t they? As you watch Penelope Robin strut her mini-gangster groove through her latest video, it is hard to think that she is only ten. Yes, ten! But Lit is anything but the usual pre-teen musical stock, instead it is a cool and confident track which takes all of the swagger and street smarts of any number of high profile, highly commercial rap or R&B artists and reassembles it for the teen market. Whilst the term Lit does have darker connotations if you hang out on the wrong side of the tracks, here it is returned to a more innocent meaning, a feeling of fun and excitement, a party vibe, just the barest hint of rebellious hi-jinks and a touch of euphoria.
The result is a song which pushes day-glo pop into groovesome R&B realms, takes the innocence of her age and welds it on to a sophisticated, skittering beat and a tongue in cheek gangster vibe which to an older audience is that confusing child/adult blend that was so great about Jodie Foster’s Tallulah in Bugsy Malone but will not even raise an eyebrow amongst her intended market.
You could argue that there are safer routes for a so young, would be pop star than embracing the bling and bluster of the gangster rap image but kids copy their peers so it is only natural that a raising star is going to imitate what is already around her. Kylie took cheesy pop and made it smarter…eventually anyway, Britney infused her brand with effortlessly cool underground danger, Lit is just the sound of the next cycle kicking in. More than anything Lit is fun, knowing and slightly parodical, but it is also full of pop effervescence and right now at that age it is all what adds to the charm. As she grows and shapes here own image, her own sound, and what we now have to call her “brand” it will be fascinating to see the path she takes.