A hot Saturday morning in New Orleans called for cold drinks and good eats, both delivered by rapper-turned-food entrepreneur, Mia X. Temperatures had already reached the mid-eighties by the 10 a.m. meal— Creole hash, mixed greens, fried chicken, and butter pecan bread pudding—all served with a side of Hip-Hop and Southern hospitality.
For Red Bull’s Street Kings brass band battle, where the 52-year-old served as a judge, the breakfast was organized to give a literal taste of everything Mia X is cooking. With her half-cookbook, half-memoir Things My Grandma Told Me Things My Grandma Showed Me on site, the No Limit first lady served food with an ear-to-ear smile, eagerly answering questions about the beans and beignets while autographing covers.
“I was born and raised cooking. My family ran a speakeasy from the house from 1940 to 1992…I’ve been in the kitchen since ‘75” she explained while introducing the dishes.
While guests spooned out servings of her labor of love, Mia X poured up specially-crafted brunch cocktails and sat down with VIBE. As she shifts focus to the food industry, preparing to add pre-packaged bean blends and a gumbo roux mix to her Mama Mia’s product line, she also continues to record new music.
“I’m working on an album called Live From The Beeper Payphone Era, so I have a few things going, and I’m just excited to still be loved and accepted,” she shared.
Discussing the weekend of brass band performances and New Orleans culture, the Unlady Like pioneer also spoke on the future of Hip-Hop and the rapidly expanding new generation of female rappers.
This interview had been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: What are you most excited about today?
Mia X: I’m a second-line baby. I’m excited to just see the culture come back with this type of platform from Red Bull. It’s a big platform. I’m first-generation bounce music, [I] put my first bounce record out 30 years ago, and we always did things with the brass bands. To see a giant like Red Bull say, ‘we want to merge hip hop and brass for this competition,’ I’m excited. I can’t wait.
Being a second-line baby, what have been some of the most influential elements of being from New Orleans?
Well, what the brass culture did for me and the Mardi Gras Indian masquerading culture did for me, it allowed me to put that whole vibe into my music. If you notice Hip-Hop artists from New Orleans, like myself and [Lil]Wayne and Juvenile, even if we’re on a straight Hip-Hop beat, we have a tribal way in how we deliver things, and that’s thanks to the brass band culture, and the Mardi Gras Indian culture. This culture influences my every stroke of the pen.
Yesterday I asked Mannie Fresh, how he feels about Hip-Hop currently. How do you feel about the state of Hip-Hop?
I’m in my fifties now, and I totally understand with that, being in your fifties is and what you listen to and what you vibe to. As far as the state of Hip-Hop, the only thing that I do not like is the escalating violence and the glorification of opps. The only opp we have is opportunity. These record labels make more money off you, you worth more dead than alive.
As far as the subject matter and what they’re talking about, I like to let young people be them because I didn’t let nobody tell me what to rap about. So I don’t tell them what to rap about. I pick and choose what I listen to based on my personal liking. My own son is a rapper, he’s a great rapper. But I pick things that I like from him to post.
Just like with the other rappers, if I like something Megan [Thee Stallion] did, I’m going to post it. Something City Girls do, I’m going to post it. Something Doja [Cat] does, I’m going to post it. Something Cardi [B], something Nicki [Minaj], I’m going to post it because I like it. I do believe that with time and age, in Hip-Hop, your subject matter begins to change because your lifestyle changes.
I don’t dog people or try to be too judgemental on it, but as a mother and a grandmother, I do not like where some of the lyrics spill over into real life. I don’t think the newer artists understand how the deaths of Tupac and Biggie really traumatized the second generation and third generation of Hip-Hop. I don’t think they understand that that knocked our socks off, and we are still grieving the loss of those two great men.
Is it fair to expect rappers to switch up? Do you think it’s hard to find that balance for some artists?
I’m a gangster rapper, I spoke about a lot of my experiences, but ‘each one teach one.’ And what we’ve learned is that the record labels make more money off the beefs and off the deaths. When you’re dead, you’re done. So if you leave children behind, in 20 years, what’s going to happen to them? In five years what’s going to happen to them? So I think that we have to start thinking about our children and our families and how impactful it’ll be for us to be shot. There are so many elements to what beef does and how it affects families for generations. It’s not really about telling them something that’s unfair, it’s just about putting something on their mind.
It’s a way to talk about what’s happening in the streets. It’s a way to talk about what happened in your life. It’s a way to talk about what somebody did to you without compromising being real or authentic. When I dropped Unlady Like, seven of my girlfriends had been murdered. We all have a story, we all have a nightmare that we can recall for people. But it’s important for you to think about the people who matter the most.
How do you feel about this new generation of woman rappers and the evolution of Hip-Hop?
I’m just happy to see so many of the girls jumping in the game and expressing themselves. When I was rapping, it was many of us, we had different flows, different accents, different subject matters. You can put Mia X on, and if you didn’t like Mia X, you could put Eve on. If you didn’t like Eve, you could put Lauryn [Hill] on. If you didn’t like Lauryn, you could put Foxy [Brown] on. If you didn’t like Foxy, you could put [Lil] Kim on. You could put Missy [Elliot] on, you could put [Lady Of] Rage on, Yo-Yo…we was deep when we was out and we had so many different vibes.
Just to see the girls coming in and it being multiple girls, I’m happy for that fact. To see that nobody’s being boxed out and it’s not just one type of girl. And the thing is, it’s a lot of good music. You just got to find it and when you find it, you have to support it.
Do you even think it’s fair to call for unity in female Hip-Hop? Because nobody gets on the internet and says “we need unity in male Hip-Hop.”
And they shooting each other.
The girls have added pressure to be sisters.
It’s not fair, especially if you’re from different coasts. Different cities, you don’t even see each other. You probably never see each other except for at an award show or at a concert and you only have 10 minutes to interact. You can’t really build from that. I like to see the comradery as far as ladies collaborating. And I like to keep it cute. Everybody deserves the greetings of the day, but I don’t think they should be forced to be chummy-chummy, and they don’t even know each other.
Who are some of the girls that you’re listening to, and do you hear any of your influence in their music?
I listen to Meg, I listen to Doja Cat, I listen to Cardi. At home, there are two girls that I will put up against anybody, male or female, Briki Fa President, and 3D Na’Tee. They’re my babies, they’re my children. But a lot of times, I hear my influence not just in women but in men. Because I picked my pen up, and I know I said some sh*t. So just makes me feel like a proud mom. It really does. And I’m rooting for everybody because, in the end, I just want them to get some bread, flip some bread, save some bread, and be okay when they in their fifties like me.
Where do you see Hip-Hop going in the next 50 years?
I think in the next 50 years, everything will be Hip-Hop. I came in when people thought it was a fad, now it’s the No. 1 music genre. I see it being more organic, though. I think people are going to go back to having their own labels and doing their own thing and being in charge of their own finances and how their music is distributed. I think the younger rappers are going to take it to the next level from a business perspective, and I’m happy for that.