Photo C/O Matt Barnes
I fell in love with hip hop around 2013 when I listened to my first rap album, Drake’s Nothing Was the Same. To me, hip hop is an art of storytelling, rooted in struggle and triumph. It has its haters and it is not perfect, but it has also saved and changed countless lives.
In the tradition of the 1970s New York City DJs and MCs that founded the genre, the guardians of modern hip hop are innovative, creative and heartfelt. Anyone can pick up the mic and tell their stories. As fans, we just need to turn up the volume on game-changing artists.
Buddah Abusah is a Hamilton-born and raised creator spreading a message of peace and love. He began writing at the age of 11 and rapping seriously at the age of 16. Haviah Mighty is a Toronto-born, Brampton-raised musician who is also a member of the rap group The Sorority. She began rapping at the age of 12, combining her seven years of singing lessons with her newfound interest in hip hop.
I spoke separately to these two local rappers about their thoughts on hip hop. Both artists spoke about the importance of the genre not only because of the music, but because of the culture.
Is there a message that you like to convey with your music?
Buddah Abusah: My inner city message is letting all artists know that no matter where you’re from, [as] long as you put your mind to it, you can be successful in your way. [I want to] show people [that if you] put your mind to it and indulge yourself properly, you can get yourself to that gold, platinum status [that] Canadians are doing more often now. Also… the message I want to give out is that all my music is to peace, love and equality. No matter what goes down, just treat it with peace and love because at the end of the day that’s what everybody needs.
Haviah Mighty: I definitely like to pull from the rawest, truest points of my life to try to create the most effective message possible, which is usually the things that are most important to me. The narrative will always change based on the shifting of the energies around us and things that are happening. But I would definitely say… just being a Black female, I am political in nature. The hair that I have, the skin tone that I have, the gender that I am and what I chose to do for a career are to some people very oxymoronic. I think naturally just my look and my delivery and my vibe is a little bit of an empowering, stepping out of your element, believing in your true self kind of message before even opening my mouth. I don’t think that’s something I can really escape or run from and I’m actually very happy to naturally represents that. I feel that people around me resonate with that.
What’s the best part of the hip hop artist community?
BA: Best part is the growth. For me I love seeing individuals or an individual put their mind to something and watch it come into fruition. Right now I’m doing that with a couple people/groups. I’ve worked with some of them in the past and just watching them help the culture of [Hamilton] is the best part because I know this city will get there. Like everybody knows the city is growing. And it’ll be interesting seeing Hamilton have their own culture and their own sound like how Toronto has their own sound. Hamilton is far enough where we see Toronto and we want to be like the [greater Toronto area] and be included like the GTA, but we still want our own.
HM: The best part of the hip hop community is the community. I think hip hop is very cultural and the community is very culture-based… [W]ithin hip hop in my experience, you can go to different venues and it’s like these are people that you’ve grown up with because at the cultural level, you guys are so connected. It might be the same for punk music and rock and stuff [but] I’m not as embedded in those communities to know. I think for me it’s the beautiful marriage between the sonic vibe of hip hop and then just like the community of hip hop and how different yet similar those two things are.
What’s next for you?
BA: I’m going to be releasing new material spring, summer time. I’ve just been working with other artists, doing some production, audio engineering. And other than that, I’m just taking my sweet, sweet time. I’m not trying to [give] you the exact same trap sound that you’re always hearing on the radio or that your friends play. I’m here giving you something completely different. I’m giving you good vibes, I’m giving you vibes for strictly hippies… My goal with this is creating an entirety of a sound for the city.
HM: I have an album coming out. I’m hoping that this can really open up some interesting conversations. I’m really hoping that we can see some shifts in female hip hop and what we expect from being a female in hip hop and what we expect from I guess just the gender expectations. I would love to see some of those surpassed with some of the stuff I’m coming out with. But definitely just trying to contribute positively to the hip hop community and that hip hop culture and to tell good, impactful stories that can make some good change.
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Last month, I learned that I can be unapologetically me, musically or other, with strangers, and not care what negative things may come of it. I learned that my words are impactful, but that who I intrinsically am has the biggest impact. Frankly, I don’t know who I think I am. I just am. I don’t think too hard about what I do. I just do. I don’t really spend too much time dwelling on the likely opinions of others. Like “should I wear a more feminine stage outfit for this corporate-ish event because corporate type folk won’t understand a female in hanging overalls and huaraches?” Like I could give a fuck. I’ve given so many of those. I make good music, that’s all you really need to know when you book me. And when I go through my camera roll, I’m proud of myself. I look back to #junomasterclass week and I see so many dope images of myself, in all these new places, with new people, and still finding comfort in being my weird, non-conventional self. I’m the most self-aware about the questions people have when they encounter me. That feeling used to raise an insecurity within me until I realized I’m simply too complex to be understood and imma need a whole music career just to explain myself 🤷🏽♀️ Needless to say, I’m reassured. 😌 #swipe #complexity #beyourselfalways