How and when did you discover hip hop?
I really don’t really remember the very first time I “discovered hip-hop” but I do remember being as young as 5 years old, in the kindergarten, singing rap songs on the playground with my friends. My dad was really into hip-hop when I was a small child so I’m sure his listening to it definitely had an influence on me listening to it.
I was obsessed with Power 106 when I was small. I remember being really little and waking up and looking forward to listening to Big Boy’s Neighborhood, the morning show, as I got ready for school- for years! I listened to it every morning, religiously.
Hip-hop has always been my favorite genre. Growing up I really liked pop music as well, but hip-hop was always my favorite, and still is today.
Which female rappers influenced you? Why?
I listened to a lot of female rappers growing up, but I guess my favorites, in no particular order, are:
Remy Ma, because I love that she is so hood. She is a true gangsta bitch. She shot someone for fucking with her money! She’s a G. I love her lyrics, her story, her willingness to share her story & deep, personal moments of her life, her hustle. I love how she is so raw and real. I love hood ass females. She is so dope to me.
Missy Elliott is another one of my favorite female rappers and has been since I was small. I love her work ethic, I love that she produces, I love her crazy fashion, and her beats and her topics of discussion on her records. I love how open she is about her sexuality. I think she is such an artist. More than just a rapper. She is a fashion icon and a hip-hop revolutionary in my eyes. It is a dream of mine to rap on one of her beats. She is definitely an influence on my beats/ production as well.
Roxanne Shante is also dope as fuck in my book. She is wild! I remember when I first heard her when I was real young. It was her diss song « Big Mama » and I was blown away by her sass and attitude. I thought she was the coolest cuz her raps were always so rowdy & rough. She definitely inspired me to be more aggressive and cocky in my raps. You can hear a lot of her influence in the music I made as a high schooler when I was getting into hella graffiti beef. I talked hella shit about my enemies in my raps back then lol.
Left Eye. Damn. I grew up listening to a lot of TLC. They are one of my favorite groups. I used to dance for hours to their « Fanmail » album by myself in my room, dreaming to be as cool as them one day. I thought they were the coolest. Rest in peace.
I like a lot of other female rappers but I guess those would be my main influences growing up that I would give the most credit to. I would love to work with them.
You wrote “Give It Time” in memory of J-Dilla. How important was he to you?
I actually did not write that song in memory of him, I used his beat to write a song for someone I love. He is however one of my favorite producers of all time. His beats make me feel all kinds of ways.
I have rapped over a few of them in my life on tracks and I have also written countless songs to them that will never come out. He brings out a very special side of me. I truly hold his music dear to my soul. It touches me. Rest in peace to the king. He inspires me so much with my raps & my beats.
You’ve been touring in Europe with Gavlyn. How did you two meet and how is it like to tour with her?
I think I met Gavlyn on MySpace or Facebook. I’m not really sure when to be honest, but I remember hearing her song « Walk On By » back in the day and I really liked it. I think the first time we met in person was at the Cypher Effect shoot that we did together. The all-female one.
Within the last couple years, her and I have become pretty close. We hang out all the time outside of work and now we are touring together which has been really fun for me. It’s been cool to get to know her on a really personal level, especially while touring, because that brings out a different side of people. We love to have fun and we also work really hard so it’s a great experience for everyone involved. I love that girl.
Can you tell us more about your last track “Los New Yorkangeles” with Necro?
Necro is the big homie. A lot of my friends in my neighborhood were really into him so we would listen to his music all the time growing up. I met him at Paid Dues a few years ago and he invited my friends and I to be in his « Kink Panther » music music video and we did- we were the only girls with our clothes on lol. That day was super fun.
Since then my music has really taken off and I have proved my legitimacy and seriousness as a rapper. He has watched my growth and is really proud of me. We go out to support each other’s shows when we are in town. At my last show in Brooklyn we talked quite a bit and had a really good time. I was in New York for a few days so we decided to work on a track together and we even filmed a music video that should come out soon. We decided to just rap about gangsta shit because as we got to know each other better in New York, we realized that we both came from a pretty hood background and still identify with it today. Necro is hella cool and I’m super glad I have gotten to know him on a personal level because he is a super chill guy with a big heart and a crazy side, just like me lol.
Would you say hip hop is sexist? Have you ever been discriminated against as a female artist?
I would definitely say there is some sexism in hip-hop. Fortunately, this generation has really eliminated a lot of the sexism that the hip-hop community used to honor. I would say over the last couple years, saying, “You rap like a girl” has become unacceptable. Nowadays there is girls, lots of girls, who rap just as good as the guys. I feel like in the generations before us there was only one, or a couple who were out making big moves at a time, but nowadays there is so many strong females from all over the world who are coming up in unity simultaneously. The men of this generation have changed the game forever alongside us females by embracing us, and acknowledging our art, and by giving us the respect we always deserved. I feel like our generation has contributed to so many amazing changes and I am so honored and proud to be a part of it.
I have definitely been discriminated against as a female artist. Till this day, people still ask me if I write my own lyrics, because they cannot believe a girl can write as good as I do. Shit is fucking ridiculous. Also, some people claim that I only have fans because I am « beautiful », which is obviously not true and if you listen to my lyrics, and read the messages I receive, and hear the people talking to me at my shows about how I saved their lives, if you really knew about my movement, you would know my looks play only a small role in my legacy. My music is not just about my image. I do take pride in being a beautiful, young woman from Los Angeles, but I am very proud in knowing that my outer appearance is not why most people are attracted to me. My lyrics are very deep and they touch people’s souls all around the world. People fall in love with me before they even know what I look like. My music and my work are why people respect me. I have also accepted that people will always critique and put you down when you are succeeding and I am proud to accept that criticism as a female, because I am proud to be a female in this male-dominated industry.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why?
I definitely consider myself a feminist. Some people think that feminism means that you hate men- and that is the fault of these fucking extremist bitches who hide their hatred for men behind the term “feminism”, when they should really say they are man haters. Feminism means equality between men and women, it does not mean that we hate men. I love men. I have six brothers, I love my dad and I have lots of dope, guy homies who I love.
I support women’s rights and I hope one day we can be on the same level in all aspects of life and career paths as men. We are definitely on the way there and I want to extend my love and gratitude to all the strong men out there who are supporting strong females, such as myself, to reach that point. I love people of all walks of life, men, women, black, white, old, young, rich, poor, gay, straight, uneducated, college graduates, I love them all. I have no time or energy to devote to hating people, especially if it’s hate stemmed from judgement of outer appearances.
What are you listening to these days?
Nowadays I am listening to a lot of beats. Been bumping lots of Flying Lotus, Bonobo, Tokimonsta, lots of instrumentals. I recently started making beats so I guess I’ve been even more into them lately than I already was. I’ve always bumped instrumentals, J-Dilla, 9th Wonder, Louden, I love beats. They let my thoughts flow freely. Sometimes I feel like lyrics direct my thoughts too much.
You will be back in Europe in October 2016 with the Gav & Rev European Tour along with Reverie and DJ Lala.What are your other upcoming projects?
Upcoming projects? I have a lot of shit dropping real soon! In August I am planning on dropping one or two singles and in September I will drop at least one more. In October I will start to drop singles off of my new EP that I am working on with E-Dub from Pocos Pero Locos. I am so excited to release all of my new shit because I really love it and I feel like my fans are going to really receive it well- especially my old fans who say they « love my old shit better than my new shit. » I got something coming for them, get ready!
What do you think of Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?
I think Madame Rap is really dope. I really like that you are putting an emphasis on females in rap. I think we need more of that. I guess the only improvement I would say is to have a translation button on your page so that people can read all the blogs in their language lol. Much respect, thank you for having me!
Booking/press info : Rita Guimarães email@example.com
Lire l’interview en français ici.