Born and raised in Gaborone, Botswana, Danielle Swagger started rapping in 2012. Now based in La Reunion Island, the artist told us about her experience in hip hop, her projects and the construction of her musical identity.
How and when were you introduced to hip hop?
I was introduced to hip hop through the likes of Snoop Dogg mentoring Bow Wow to Missy Elliott, and not only was I into hip hop but a massive collection of music, listening to songs and writing them down directly then after learning them, little did I know I was growing a skill in me.
How did you start rapping?
When I was about 17 years old, my older brother asked me to come to his studio and record a verse on his song That Mullah, after all I was always singing at the top of my lungs in the house. People reacted well to the song but I could hear myself more than they could and knew I had to enhance my skill further. Till this day, I am still juggling my sound, flow and voice in different directions trying to define my personality through music.
How would you define your music?
My music is realistic based on reality, its core of the body is hip hop sometimes assorted with other genres. It depends how I am feeling the production.
If someone doesn’t know your music and wants to discover it, which track would you advise them to listen to first and why?
I would tell them to listen to #ShebaGusheshe featuring JT SpecialBoy because it is the song we took to radio first, which introduced me as an artist to a broader market in Botswana and it did very well. It is a unique genre and a hybrid of Skhanda music generated by K.O from South Africa, mixed with a hint of sgubu/kwaito sensation.
Why did you decide to move to the Reunion Island?
I decided to relocate to Reunion Island because I knew music is part of the culture. Music here is usually performed live with the basic instruments we know and traditional instruments like the ngoni, djembe, kayamb…
The festivals here are amazing and the organizations such as Le Kerveguen, La Cité des Arts, Florilèges have some of the biggest stages. I figured I could grow myself as an artist and prepare myself for bigger worldwide stages, collaborate and exchange with different programs and musicians. It is a learning curve for me and I am not in a rush.
You collaborated with rapper Queen Favie. How did you two meet and decide to work together?
Queen Favie and I met through our managers, who put together a collaboration aimed at misogyny.
Are there many female rappers in Botswana? Is it easy for them to make themselves known and find an audience?
Botswana has very few female rappers who are exposed to the creative industry, in fact it is a male-dominated industry and this is a very sensitive topic for me to discuss.
Who are your female role models?
I aspire to be like Bonang Matheba, Viola Davis, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama. Women of substance, responsibility and power. To fall, To Learn, To Get Up & Teach. Music-wise I respect Beyonce as the greatest performer and Rihanna as a rolling stone in the music business.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? If so, how would you define your own feminism?
I am a feminist because I believe women are the stand still of the world, without women the world cannot go forward.
What are your upcoming projects?
I don’t like to blow my bubble but l’d like my fans to look forward to the much aggressive side of me. All updates will be available on my page.
What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?
Madame Rap is a marvelous platform because it states its focus, it is broad and entertaining for those who want to hear more female rappers. Keep pushing, you’re doing a magnificent job.