How did you get started in rapping?
I started rhyming at 14, but before that I was writing poems and stuff, just rapping everybody’s lyrics. My male cousins used to rap all the time; they would be in the basement with the 4-track, and I would just annoy them to the point where they were like, ‘Alright! We’re going to teach you how to write a verse.’ [Laughs] At first, I didn’t even know how to count bars, I was just putting a whole bunch of words together, and I couldn’t breathe right [Laughs], so they finally taught me how to write a rhyme. I swear to you, that day I started, I never stopped. I am where I am now because they took a minute to teach me and I had that music interest. I avoided having a child, having relationships affect my dream or anything. I’ve been in serious situations, but I know how to pull myself out. At 16 or 17, I was back and forth from Connecticut to New York working with different people in the studio, working with the Heatmakers at one point, just getting myself out there. Then around 18, 19, I was back and forth from college but my mind was always on music. I was blessed to have opportunities to go back and give music my full attention. And recently, last year, I locally put two mixtapes out in my neighborhood and was able to catch the attention of some investment partners, so with that opportunity I had to really become wise about the decisions that I was going to make through research, law representation and really become this business-savvy woman that I never even thought I’d actually be, and that’s when I started my company De Essence Entertainment. I manage and control my own career and will eventually launch myself where the labels come after me, so the deal is sweeter.
I love that! So bossy…
It’s a lot of work. I’m not gonna lie. You have to play the manager, the negotiator, the accountant, the recording artist, the writer, everything.
So, I’m watching the “Unorthodox” video, and I’m trippin’ because you have a full blown video! [Laughs] Some artists will have little video teasers or a small budget, but you were in the whip, in the studio, everything. Very good video.
[Laughs] Yeah, I was very fortunate for the resources.
As far as the content of the song, can you explain the meaning of the song and balancing the love for your career versus maintaining a relationship?
“Unorthodox” is so crazy. Yes, it was a personal experience. It wasn’t anything that was very dramatic in my life, but it did happen. You come to a point in your life where you gotta choose one or try to make it work, and sometimes it’s rocky even though you’re making it work. But once again, relationships are not prefect. “Unorthodox” was just a situation. The more time you dedicate to your career, there’s not enough energy to give to another person. You come home? You want to go to sleep. I wouldn’t say it’s neglect to the other person, but “Unorthodox” just says how I’m just out to win with my career and not let any relationship hold me down. I feel like anyone chasing a dream should definitely know that you have to be with a person that is willing to compromise. Your dream has to be their dream at the same time; they have to want to see you win.
I feel you, and I like how you came from the female perspective. Most people believe it’s the guy out there grinding, coming home late, missing dinners but you say, ‘Look, I have to work too! I have a video shoot!’ Now, tell me the story about how you began working with Ty Fyffe.
I met Ty Fyffe through a good friend of mine and he said, ‘You definitely can rap. You got skills. I would like to hear you on this type of track,’ so we got in the studio and we’ve been working. The songs are almost done; we’re just adding our last touches to it. One of those songs is going to be on the EP which I’m dropping in two months titled Fame On. But yeah, Ty Fyffe is definitely talented. There’s history in who he has worked with. Definitely hip-hop!
What will the EP be like sonically and what other producers were you able to work with?
Fame On is gonna be a mix of hip-hop, pop sound. Another producer on there is Omen. He produced “Unorthodox” and he’s got a couple more tracks with me. I think we’re going to put two more that he produced on there. A good friend of mine from Atlanta, One Way, produced a track that’s going to be on there, and I’m working with Doc Ish also. I’m not sure if Doc Ish’s track is going to be on there, but it’s definitely going to be on the album. And then there will be a surprise guest feature on it. [Laughs]
What’s the exact release date?
That date will be on my website www.thisisessence.com, and I’ll release it on Twitter, so follow me @essencerapdiva! [Laughs] But besides this EP, I am going to flood this industry in all aspects. It’s definitely my time. I’ve ran the course, I’ve put my grind in, and God willing, this is going to be a big year for me. I’ve been influenced by big names! People from Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, Eve and through them I got that motivation. Why should I not go for it? Look how much they have accomplished and made the whole category of female emcees what it is today. Just like there’s a Kanye, there’s a Jay-Z, there’s a 50, there’s a Drake and just like there’s a Nicki, there’s a Kim, there’s a Eve, there’s now an Essence in the game.