I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Maizy F before about her all female cypher and showcase. Since the time that I participated in it there has been a lot of growth; the last one took place in Edmonton, Alberta for the CUT Hip Hop awards and many more talented female rappers have been added to the movement. In this round the cypher has returned to Toronto, ON and has amassed an even bigger following as before. Many blogs, radio and TV show personalities showed up to support it and help bring awareness about the female movement taking place in Toronto. I was even introduced to some of the artists because of this event and took sometime to talk to them about their careers so far and why this event matters.
The first rapper I spoke to was battle rapper, Mz Black Pearl who really wowed me with her cypher, especially with her line about Michelle Obama.
Being an artist is one of the parts of your life, what else do you do?
MBP: I am extremely fortunate and grateful to say that I have been really blessed in the talent department. Multiple times over, in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined for myself and my life, as a youth. I thank God, often, for my blessings, although these gifts come with multiple challenges too. Some of these capacities are innate to me and I’ve been honing them since childhood. For many years, there have been numerous things that I’ve been into and/or have been building a foundation for myself in. I model, sing, rap, dance and choreograph. I’ve worn (and still wear) many hats, from songwriter, poet and blogger, to hairdresser, makeup artist and wardrobe stylist, to event planner. Most recently, I’ve ventured into the world of battle rapping.
How did you get into battle rapping?
MBP: Battle rap was introduced and reintroduced to me over the years through boyfriends, friends and associates. Obviously, it was a recurring theme for a reason. As far as becoming a battle rapper, myself, my current boyfriend was extremely instrumental in making that happen. We found out pretty quickly, after meeting, that musical appreciation and talent was a common thread for us. Over time, we both displayed our skills to each other and after hearing me rap, he said that he thought it was something I should pursue and would be good at. It actually started out as a daring challenge, that we committed to within our relationship, to push the other person outside of their comfort zone artistically. I had to do one battle (at least) and he had to pursue a creative direction that he’d always wanted to do, which many people had often suggested he’d be good at.
Battle rapping is not easy, what’s the training process like?
MBP: Once I’ve completed my writing process, I am already pretty familiar with the material, but I memorize my lyrics and practice my performance as much as I can before the battle. There are lots of tips and tricks I have picked up in a very short amount of time – I’ve only been battling about 7 months – but I’ve experienced a rapid learning curve and accomplished an immense amount in that time, especially as a female battler. I recently received and accepted an invitation to participate in a Sparring Session battle in the Queen of the Ring Battle League in New York. It's historical, as I'm the first Canadian female to battle on Queen of the Ring. Not only is this a huge opportunity for me, which I am profoundly grateful for, but it's a testament to my talent and grind paying off and being recognized by elites in the battle world. Queen of the Ring is a platform that female battlers aspire to and strive for, so it truly is an extreme honour, to have this shot, especially so early into my battle rap career.
The next artist I spoke to was Osi, this was my first time hearing of her and I was really intrigued by the animated performance she gave in the cypher recording.
How long have you been rapping? What’s your story?
Osi: Hi Ekelle, thanks for reaching out and picking me as one of the 4 artists to do the article on. To answer your first question, I have been rapping since I was 21 unprofessionally, and really got into it at 22. I used to talk to this boy who knew how to rap, and I was always a go-getter, and down to try new things, so we would speak to each other through couplets via text at night, it was cute. 22 was when I started to hang out with some friends at the time who rapped. I went to the studio with them, and at that time in my life, I really didn’t take in how music was created, and fell in love with the idea of creating music. Of course I never told anyone, until I went about it on my own. From there on out, I did my own thing, found my own contacts, producers, beatmakers, people on the come up, people hungry, man, woman. It’s been 3.5 years now for me rapping
How important is this cypher to you and what does being included mean to you?
Osi: I have to mention I do cypher, freestyle and song write regularly so I am thankful Maizy F asked me personally to be apart of the 6.0 Cypher. Women are not seen as cypherers, we are against the status quo in doing so, I’m sure that’s something we all have in common. Every opportunity to practice my craft on stage will make me better in the grand scheme of things. I want to go big, do it big, for myself, for Toronto. The other special thing about the Female Cypher in the 6ix was it was an all women event, run by only women too, that is empowering! Not only for women, but for Toronto and the world. I hope we continue to put on amazing events like this for the world to see. I know plenty of people are excited to see online what happened that night. I got to witness some amazing dope female artists from the 6ix, network with some amazing people, and I know we’ll be working on more projects in the future. It’s all about the energy, and what you want out of it, and everyone came in with their best foot forward, at least through my eyes.
What are your goals as an artist for 2017?
Osi: My goals for 2017 include:
Releasing more singles off my album
Getting a bigger buzz by releasing more visuals and networking
Opportunities to perform in front of bigger crowds
By achieving my goals I believe the universe will have something special aligned for me and to prepare me for the future. I’ve worked really hard on my craft, night and day. There’s always going to be someone out there working harder than you, and that is what pushes me to continue to work harder than I’ve ever had before as I am competing against myself. From collaborating with more local artists, and artists from the States, to networking more in Toronto’s music scene in 2017. I love music, I want my music to have a message, I am my own message, my presence it self will be a message for future generations of kids to never quit on their dreams or give up. That anything is possible. If I am crazy enough to believe in myself that I will be SUCCESSFUL an AFGHAN FEMALE RAP/Rnb Artist out of Toronto, who’s to say someone else’s dreams won’t come true?
I then spoke to the laconic Gemini Meekz because of her sick flow and presence; I wanted to learn more about her.
Where do you get the inspiration to your rhymes?
GM: My inspiration comes from my life and what I've been through over the years both good and bad.
Are there any other opportunities for female rappers in the city?
GM: I do believe there are opportunities for female MC's but it's also about who's willing to take a chance on supporting the talent.
You produce as well, what program(s) do you use and how does being multitalented help you as an artist?
GM: I use fruity loops and any other software that challenges my creativity. To be able to multitask and use each strength is a blessed feeling.
Then of course I had to speak to Maizy F, the big woman in charge...
People have really taken to the cypher. There are so many people supporting now; how do you feel?
MF: It feels great to see the platform that I’ve built begin to get more support and recognition as the movement grows. I’ve noticed a rise in female artists wanting to participate as well as other female producers. So It’s great to see how this movement has affected the HipHop scene.
Why was it important for you to get the cypher out to Edmonton, Alberta?
MF: It was a great opportunity to host the first ever female cypher at the Canadian Urban Television Awards. It was important for me to get the brand out there and be a part of the awards show. It was round 5.0 CUT Edition and It had female artists from all over Canada. Definitely Hip Hop History...
What sneak peek/info can you give us about the next one? How much in advance do you plan them?
MF: As much as I’d love to rip the seal on what’s up next I’ve learned sometimes It’s best to let the action speak for Itself. All I can say is bigger and better things to come...As well as some "expansions".
What advice can you give female rappers in the city now that our movement is starting to take off?
MF: Be original...Be you. It sounds corny after a while but your best bet is to be you to the fullest, either they love you or love to hate you, either way no love lost... No filter needed.
All in all the Female Cypher 6.0 was a great success, a great crowd showed up to support all of the ladies involved and the performances were great. I’m sure that Maizy F and her team have something great planned for the next one and personally I can’t wait! It’s so nice to see women coming together instead of being pit against each other and there’s no telling what can be done when everybody plays their part. It is definitely the time for women in Toronto to stand up and take their place in the industry, I encourage ladies all over the world to do the same.