When hip-hop first emerged into the underground music scene in the late 1970s, it exploded into a cultural phenomenon that is still part of our musical history. During the 1980s and 1990s women started MC-ing and were, and still are, respected as great lyricists as their male counterparts. A new wave of female rappers has emerged in recent years and one of them is Orlando-based rapper, MyVerse. I first saw her perform at a downtown Manhattan lounge and was immediately impressed with her skill and charismatic onstage persona. Her new album, State Of The Art, was released earlier this year and has been on my daily playlist ever since I downloaded it. I spoke with her about her journey, her inspirations and her musical passion.
Hello, thank you so much for speaking with me! How are you?
I’m so good! Thank you so much for speaking with me and showing support.
I always try to support! And here come the questions! So, where did you get your start as a poet and MC?
Since I was a little girl, I was always a writer. I started writing stories and read them to my mom and brother. When I was 12 I wrote a Mother’s Day card that compared my mom to a flower (laughs) and the teacher read it out loud to my class. She was the first person that said I was good at writing. Then my friends were requesting poems, mostly about boys (laughs). So I started writing more poems and continued writing stories. It was a lot of storytelling through poetry. After that, I ended up going to a military school. I was quite a handful as a kid! My guidance counselor recommended I write a spoken word piece which then led me to performing my pieces. I also started free styling which I really loved. Hip-hop to me was always about individualism. I was always a revolutionary and hip-hop to me is revolutionary.
Once you decided you are going to be this artist, who else influenced you with your art?
I loved hip-hop so much so I started to learn the history of it. I even did a timeline of it. My best friend in college, Steven, who’s still my best friend today, knew so much about it. He gave me mixed tapes and was one of the first friends who would take me to live performances. These MCs made me fall in love with the music and lyricism. I listened to Def Poetry Jam. I also read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra book and that was an awakening for me.
What do you think about the state of mainstream hip-hop, particularly about female MCs?
When it comes to women, they always like to show us strong as long as we’re shitting on someone instead of being a queen that wants to uplift her sisters. In mainstream music, they only show you a few female MCs. I think the industry will always perpetuate female MCs to be catty, overly sexualized and objectified. As women we are so powerful but we have been the most oppressed people on the planet. However, I do think there is a renaissance with female rappers, similar to how it was during the 90s. It’s crazy how hip-hop is literally on both ends of the spectrum.
On the one hand, it’s dying- but I also see kids who are awakening and becoming more lyrical. They are trying to convey a message because of what’s been happening in the world, like with Eric Garner and Ferguson. A lot of them are waking up but the industry tries to dumb them down. Thank God for the internet because a lot of people see truth and that there’s more than just one or two female rappers. On the internet, women have more and more control and they can call the shots. I also think sometimes when we want to empower women, we also emasculate men. The industry wants to turn men and women against each other when in fact they should show us and teach us a sense of community. We can all build together!
Your music has a lot of messages about empowering women, especially women of color. Why is that important to you?
I’ve been blessed to be able to be a public figure. It’s good to be able to speak about today’s issues but it’s also good to make music that makes you feel beautiful and powerful. I try to balance my music to be able to be fun and also to be a voice of the community. I always felt it was my duty as a poet to always relay the strength a person has within them and making people realize that.