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Boog: I wrote Brown Study in like three months, and I was like, "Oh my God, I hate this album." I couldn't listen to it for six months. I hated it. I was just bitching and complaining and moaning and shit, and I actually stopped and listened to it, and I said, "This is where I'm at right now." I'm not mad at that album now. I don't have children, I've never had children, but I kinda liken it to kind of a post-partum depression.
Sa-Roc: That's deep.
Boog: After you have a child, you can't connect with it because you don't know where that connection is. I watched my sister go through that, which is why I'm using that as a point of reference. But to see it now and to feel so proud of it — I didn't think anybody would like it. I was so scared that nobody would fuck with me. I've only been rhyming for like six years. I just jumped into this shit and hoped for the best, flailing around and everything. God threw me a life raft and here I am, floating about.
Sa-Roc: My last [album], Journey of the Starseed, I really took my time with that one. It basically was a representation of my journey coming into confidence as a woman. Also my metaphysical journey of me coming from the ether and manifesting here on a physical realm, and what that process was like and what my process was like becoming an MC. Because I'm still learning, I'm still trying to be completely secure with myself and my skills. So you can hear a lot of that on the album and songs I was more personal with. It just feels weird to put out music though.
Boog: I know, right.
Sa-Roc: Like Boog said, I haven't been doing this for a long time. I've been doing this for like three years. So I have a new album coming out, Ether Wars. And this is the one I feel like, OK, I'm ready. I'm excited about it. The other two I was like, "Um, are they gonna like me? Are they gonna like what I'm saying? Do I sound good? Is my voice too heavy? Do I sound too hard? Do I need to be more soft?" — like I was questioning everything I did. But that's all the journey, and I'm still on the journey, but once I got to a certain point I'm ready to battle and that's kinda what it's about.
stahhr: I'm going through a lot of transformation just as a woman, and that has been really good for my music. Which is bittersweet 'cause its like, 'Why I gotta go through all this?' But the music's really good, so I have metamorphosed quite a good bit over the past couple of years. I am a mommy, and I do feel like this is a pregnancy/giving-birth process as well with [my new album, Mother Ntr with a Molotov]. This is a hard pregnancy. But when the baby comes it's gonna be all worth it.
Adrift: For me, it's kinda like therapy. Because you go through so much in your life, period. Then you get a chance to get on stage, you just release. So that's one part of it. The fearlessness for me comes from growing up, having all kinds of insecurities and issues and growing into myself as a woman and being comfortable with myself. So when I get on stage I'm like, "This [is] me. What?" And that's where the beast comes from. I like that word.
Khalilah: I sometimes don't feel like it's me there.
Dia: Like your Sasha Fierce?
Khalilah: It's not even as an alter ego. It's me, but maybe a higher me. I don't know, but I feel like something comes over me. I don't' know if you call it the Holy Spirit, Egun, I don't know what name you give it but something occurs and its just a spiritual experience.
Boog: I think a part of it is nerves for me, to be quite honest. The only thing I'm battling on stage is my nerves, and that's it. 'Cause I get shook every time before I hit the stage, every single time and it never fails. And it's like I have to find a way to center myself and balance. And then if I had a shitty day, it's coming out on the stage. And if I had a great day, it's coming out on the stage. It's just gonna translate the way that it needs to, however the day has been for me. It doesn't matter what the crowd is doing. I don't care who's there or what kinda energy they got or need or whatever. Because it's up to me to channel that and make it about me. 'Cause at that point, I'm there to do my job and if I don't do my job then the audience won't do theirs. That's where that comes from with me.
Dia: I know a lot of y'all can't stand getting those phone calls, because I will be the first one to call y'all like, "Hey, I wanna do an all girls show."
Dia: But it's not to put you all in a box and, obviously, I will call y'all for other things, too. But there is something special that happens at every show that is an all-female show.
Adrift: The last one we did, that one was dope. I wasn't expecting that.
Boog: Oh yeah, ya'll did crazy that night. Everybody rocked.
Lyric: I like doing female shows, 'cause I do a lot of shows where I'm always that one token chick on the show. So I don't dislike it because I feel like we're dope. I mean, you see all-male shows, why not do an all-female show?
Boog: But it'll be so many people that focus on somebody's vagina it's like if you can stop focusing on that and just — you always wanna talk about "Oh yeah, I'm dope. I wanna be considered a dope MC because I'm a dope MC." And it's like, well, you don't wanna rock with everybody. Integrate yourself. If you wanna be considered an MC, you rock wherever they tell you to rock. And you rock that shit. And you let muthafuckas know. Not just because, "Oh yeah, I'm a girl and I'm about to be on the mic. And I like to shake my booty." Shake ya ass, cause I like shakin' my ass. So it's not about not being a woman and doing what you do. It's about you don't have to knock somebody out with that shit. We know. We see you clearly on the stage, you're a woman. So, rock the fucking show.
That's the only thing I don't like, when [sisters] try to downplay the brothers and shit. I like men being at my shows.
Sa-Roc: They buy CDs.
Boog: They buy CDs, they buy drinks, they buy T-shirts. Invite everybody, is what I'm saying.
Dia: What are some of the topics that you all feel are necessary to rap about in these times?
Khalilah: This wicked ass capitalist system.
staHHr: Nationality and birth rights.
Sa-Roc: For me, elevation, in all senses of the word, is important. In hip-hop — of course, I'm not trying to pigeonhole or make a general statement — but a lot of times we're dealing with some real base stuff. So in order for my growth, I speak about a lot of metaphysical concepts, ways to elevate yourself spiritually. 'Cause I think now is the time. We're being bogged down by so much negativity, so many distractions that keep us from rising to our higher selves. So that's one of the main themes in anything that I write.
Lyric: It's always dope when you have your perspective, when you have your story, because nobody's gonna have a Lyric Jones story. Nobody's gonna have any of these ladies' stories. So that's what sells records, storytelling. And actually being able to connect with your audience, connect with your fan base.
Boog: And I think that's where that vulnerability comes through, like I think people are so caught up in the image that they are trying to portray that they don't allow themselves to be human. That's the most important thing. I'm not listening to your music if I can't connect with you on a human level. Even if you're talking about 'Drop it like it's hot.' Sometimes with my boo I wanna drop it like its hot, you know what I'm saying.
Boog: You gotta be honest, let yourself be vulnerable. You're a person first, you're not an image. You're not some inanimate object talking about, "I'm a rapper." And if you are, then you're a rapper. We here are MCs. And I think that's the thing that's different — because these women are women. I don't ever look at them and [think] that's not a woman walking there, that's not a person walking there. That's not a spirit that I can connect to. I know I've cried on many of these women's shoulders. I have feelings; I am a person. And I can relate to it on any level as long as it's honest.
Khalilah: But there are some folks playing characters. When you're trying to market a product, then you're gonna see these characters and caricatures. And the product is: "I'm a rapper." "This is what my image is." "I'm trying to sell this many units." Then you're a product. You're no different than anything. You're a brand. You ain't shit. But if you're an MC, it's not necessarily about the product — it is about the product, but —
Boog: It's some commodities exchanged.
Khalilah: But it's gotta be balanced. For me I have an image, right. And when people think Khalilah Ali, I want them to think certain things about me, and my music needs to reflect that. That's just defining who you are and where you fit, right? But when it gets down to [the point] where it ends and begins at the brand, and you start pulling back, and stripping, and taking off your wigs and your shiny shit, then you're nothing — you're not even a good rapper.
Adrift: But we're indie, so we can do whatever we want.
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