As the rap game consistently changes and grows, it’s easy to get stuck on the favorites because, overwhelmed. To make it easier, VIBE has rounded up some of the industry’s newest rappers, who happen to be women. Get to know them in our series, The New Class of Femcees.
MoBo The Great kicked off this interview with an excellent point about how men don’t take women seriously in business and how she had to set him straight. She’s not to be played with in her music either. After Hov pulled her on stage to spit not once, but twice, nothing less is expected from her.
Hometown: Kankakee, IL
Craziest thing on your show rider: “I don’t really have anything other than the initial payment, water and maybe food. Worse case scenario, I ask for transportation. I try to stay humble with those kind of things. I’m not there to run your up tab. I’m there to give a great show.”
Three words to describe the music: “Innovative, refreshing, amazing.”
VIBE: How did you get into rap? What’s the story?
MoBo The Great: I was always just naturally good at writing. I would always be in class writing raps, like during math class. I would write bullsh*t and then have my classmates be the background singers. I remember we had to do an assignment that was a poem and it had to be a poem that didn’t rhyme. And that was the hardest thing ever for me, to not rhyme. But I didn’t pursue rap as a rapper until maybe Kanye came out. I was in fourth grade. He came out with College Dropout. I was always into music, I always grew up surrounded by conscious hip-hop, the Commons, The Kanyes. But when Kanye came out, I definitely put a label on it and said I want to be a rapper. Before him, everyone was just pretty much wearing the baggy jeans and the baggy pants so it was not that relatable for me. When Kanye came out, he was street and he was suburban at the same time. He listened to the same type of music I listened, the influences. He was for the people in a way that I was as well. With him being from Chicago, it connected. When Kanye came out, I was like yo, I’m definitely going to become a rapper.
When it comes to your sound, how would describe it and what do you think it brings to the game?
Everyone has their different position. I bring back the pureness of everything. I bring back no gimmick. Everyone has their lane and plays their position. Nicki is like the sex symbol, Tink is the one who sings for all the broken-hearted girls, Dreezy makes music for girls on the Southside, she’s like a Future. I fit in the categories of the Kanyes, the J.Coles, the Kendricks. I make music for a different type of people and I think that’s something that I want to bring back. I want to be the artist that’s known for the talent and not for the gimmicks. I want to sell myself and not sex. It needs to happen. Someone such as myself who can do it without being corny, you know. I think I can be one of the most influential artists of this generation.
How do you feel about the gender diversity in the game right now?
Honestly, I don’t really deal too much with it. I haven’t had too much discrimination because of my gender. Partially because men have always respected me. From the way that I carry myself, I’m always respectable so they are always respectable toward me. And it’s the fact that they know I’m about my business more so. I don’t really deal with it in the industry so much, maybe because I did the Hov sh*t, so it kind of gave me a credibility that maybe without it, my experience would be a little bit different. The Hov sh*t kind of really… it made things a lot easier because when you’re in the situation such as that, people take you more seriously in a way that they wouldn’t have before. I know that [discrimination] exists. Just because it hasn’t happened to me, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
What is it like being out of the Chicago rap scene? Between Chance, Noname, Tink, Dreezy, there’s so much talent coming out of Chicago. Do you feel the camaraderie?
Yes, definitely! Being an artist out of Chicago is one of the best feelings. Chicago is hot and it’s been hot ever since 2012. A lot of people thought our buzz would die down, but I truly believe that Chicago… we have some of the best artists in the world. There are artists that are popping from Chicago and there’s a lot that still aren’t, who are very much talented. As far the Chances, the Nonames, The Dreezys… there’s a complete different side of Chicago. On one side you have Chance, Noname, myself, Saba. On the other side, you have Dreezy, King Louie. So even though Chicago is separated from the conscious side and the street side, when we need to come together we definitely do. That’s what I can say about being a Chicago artist. It’s a great time to be a Chicago artist. Everyone looks to Chicago, we start a lot of trends in the industry. We got New York saying gang. We’re making a lot waves right now and I’m so happy and proud to be a Chicago artist.
What is it that you want people to take away from your music?
I want them to take away the genuineness. You can sit there and say, I want there to be a message in what I’m saying. My thing is, the message is there. It’s always going to be there, take the message or don’t take the message. But I more so care about the feeling. I want to people to feel like, this is the girl who we’ve been waiting for. I want them to feel to inspired, I want them to feel uplifted. I just want people to take away the fact that I’m bringing something that’s different, and again that’s the genuineness of being a hip-hop artist that’s specifically female. There are a lot of gimmicks and I think that I’m one of the very few that there are no gimmicks with me. I really do this sh*t and very much into the culture. I just want people to feel a sense of relief. Especially men. A lot of men I find they don’t really like to listen to female rappers, so if I can be that one that they’re like, ‘I don’t really like female rappers, but I like her.’ Men don’t respect female rappers because they don’t give them anything to respect, other than their bodies. So if give them a message, if I give them cold bars, if I give them real hip-hop, then they have no choice to respect and that’s always what I want to give. I want to give pureness and genuineness.
When it comes to writing and making music, what does your process look like?
I get the production first, I write the songs to that beat. I may smoke weed to just relax, I have high anxiety, just to put me in that zone. I write the songs and then I record it. I have a very simple process, I don’t need the temperature on 70 or some Fiji how n***as be doing in the studio. I write by myself, I usually just sit in the room and just write by myself. I’ve done features and had to write my verse while they were in the room, but when I’m creating my own music I like to be on my own. You can feel the energy of other people around you and I just want to feel the energy of myself.
What’s next for you? When can we peep your next project?
My new project… it’s like dance music, kind of. You know Soulection type sh*t? It’s something that you can get dressed to, it sounds like something you can work out to, club to. It’s like Kaytranada type sh*t. The dope thing about it is, it’s still very much my core. [When] Nicki does that, she kind of loses her core fan base. When she makes her pop records, her core fans don’t respect because it’s kind of like a complete sell out. Although I’m able to make those pop records, I’m still swagging in the way that I do. House music came from Chicago so it all comes natural to me. I have this song on my project that samples Luther Vandross. I’m shooting for that next Wednesday, so I think that’ll probably be the first thing that I drop just to wake everybody up since it’s been a year since I’ve released a project. “Been In Love” will be my first single, premiering with Fader.
Outside of music, being creative, what’s something that you are passionate about in life?
I’m passionate about my dreams. Just being everything that I said that I was going to be. I really believe in the law of attraction and manifestation. That’s damn near my religion and something that I believe in wholeheartedly. So there’s not much that I’m passionate about besides music, which is fashion, writing, all that sh*t goes together. I would say that I’m passionate about the law of attraction and inspiring people. Even though I’m a Chicago artist, I do come from a place called Kankakee and you know that sh*t is kind of worse than Chicago. At least Chicago is a big city and you’re able to move around. In Kankakee, we don’t have a downtown, we don’t have a train system. If I want to go to Chicago, I have to drive up north 30 minutes just to catch a train to Chicago. We don’t have sh*t here, so I just want to the person that shows not only my hometown, but everybody, from young girls to men, that you never know when it can happen to you. Besides being a musician, an artist, I want to be a great person.