INTERVIEW – Qbala: « I see the importance in standing for women’s rights on the front lines »

You were born in Loveland and now live in Fort Collins. How is the hip hop scene like in Northern Colorado?

Fort Collins is blowing up right now. There is a lot of room for growth but there is also a lot of individual growth between crews. The mentality of worrying about who is doing what is changing to how can we help each other.

You used to be a basketball player. Which similarities do you see between basketball and hip hop?

I got to play in Australia for a few weeks one summer with my college team then made a travelling team that would have been in Hungary. I never received a pro contract. Music was one of the reasons I walked away from sports. It was mainly the differences that I kept seeing that eventually drew me to music. One couldn’t help but point out that there is definitely a competitive nature you must have to rise in either industry. I like that. It comes natural for me.

On your Facebook page, you name Queen Latifah, Lady of Rage, the Fugees or Janis Joplin as some of your influences. What do you think is so special about these women?

They sang about what was in there hearts and they have always been women of power to me. Plus they are amazingly talented. I welcomed their influence.

Your last EP “Battle Cries” is an empowering statement about women’s sexuality and identity. Did you struggle to be accepted as who you are on the hip hop scene?

This is a tricky one. I have struggled to understand the world’s obsession with what it is to be a man. I had a hard time accepting me for everything I am because I always wanted to be the best. Men have been treated better than me even if I worked harder, had better results and the list goes on. So, in my mind it’s almost been washed in that men were naturally better. I now see us all as energy and we will forever be the label that we choose. I have been in nonstop creation mode since I let go of my fears in the world’s expectation of what it is to be. As well as see the importance in standing for women’s rights on the front lines. Whether that is on a stage or at the workplace.

Madame Rap’s favorite is the song “Pride”. Can you tell us more about how this track was born? 

There is a lot of truth telling in my music. I’m taking about what could have happened if I was born in CA where my bio father is to apologizing to my mother and fiancé for not being certain about giving birth to a child or even having a child. My music really has started to fall in line with where I am at in my life. It helps me sort through feelings and they can see where I am at through artistic expression. It can be rough talking to me. I get very excited and the energy intensifies. One part in particular in this song I talk about my father, my step dad. He did so much for us and I am thankful. Sometimes I show love through music. It’s how I deal with what’s on my mind. That’s how my writing works.  Sometimes I hear a beat and just write. Sometimes I write then add to a beat. This one was a letter first.

Hip hop is usually considered to be more sexist and homophobic than the rest of society. Do you agree with that?

The entire world is afraid of something.  I’m just over here ready to go. We will put a stop to that.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why?

I consider myself a fighter of the people. Forever reaching out to help those in need. At some point we gotta stand for ourselves. I’m not really into labels but society may have their own opinion.

What are you listening to these days? Have you listened to Kendrick Lamar’s surprise album “Untitled unmastered”. And if so, what do you think of it?  

I am in super creative mood right now so I am focusing on listening to a gang of instrumentals. I honestly have not listened to it.  I’m trying to search my original creativity without being influenced by others. Mainly to be inspired by their dedication and hard work.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am working on a Self Titled EP. I just want to keep the creative bubble going. I have been doing a bit of live self-production where I build a beat on stage with a mini synthesizer and a Maschine Mikro drum machine. It has been amazing. I am not in any rush though to drop another EP this year. I really want to focus on pushing the projects I have right now.

What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?

We just met. We shall soon see!

Find Qbala on Bandcamp, Facebook and Soundcloud.

Éloïse Bouton

Lire l’interview en français ici.

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