Born in Berlin, Hawa grew up in France and Africa. Now based in NYC, the 19-year-old rapper told us about her evolution in hip hop and her new EP The One.
How and when were you introduced to hip hop culture?
I was introduced at a very young age. I would probably say around 3 years old. I can’t tell you when exactly, but especially since I grew up in a Black household, it is impossible for you not to encounter hip hop at one point. But I grew up listening to Motown, Africa, French, and house music mostly.
How did you start rapping?
There was a point in my life where I was just listening to rap and drill, and one day, I decided to start rapping. After that, I just practiced so I could get good.
Which artists did you listen to while growing up?
TLC, D’Angelo, Sade, John Mayer, Mase, T Pain, Tracy Chapman. Honestly, I could keep going on forever.
Did you receive any musical training?
Yes I received classical training from the New York Philharmonic.
You just released the EP The One. How would you present this project?
I can’t really answer that because this project is about love and there is no true way to present that.
Do you identify as queer? What does the term “queer” mean to you?
To be honest, I’m a lesbian woman who loves women. Queer doesn’t really mean anything because I don’t think my sexuality is what really defines me as a person. All it says about me is the kind of person I like to have sex with.
Hip hop is often pictured as sexist and homophobic. However many LGBTQIA artists express themselves through rap. How would you explain this contradiction?
Honestly, I think this one of the problems asking questions like this. Even if it’s not intentional to categorize, why does it mean being a gay artist means that you have to be labeled either LGTBQ or female? Why can’t an artist just be a rapper or singer? So I feel like once everyone stops making those categories then it’ll be easier for things to change.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I do. My ability to embrace my beauty, embrace my feminism, support other women, and being able to voice my sexuality freely, and to be free– that’s the way I would describe my feminism.
What are your upcoming projects?
I’m making a new album and new music in general so be on the lookout!
Find Hawa on Soundcloud, Twitter and Instagram.