Lyricist Bahamadia on Hip-Hop Then and Now

Bahamadia-cover1

BIO: The reigning Queen of Hip Hop rose to royalty through popular underground and burgeoning commercial success since 1993. “Good Rap Music,” Bahamadia’s third album effort that balanced her underground prominence with commercial success, expanded her global “cult” fan base from Japan to Europe and across the USA. Bahamadia’s 4th global release “Here” hit iTunes worldwide Spring 2011 with ground-breaking collaborations with artists like Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Sweetback (Sade & Maxwell’s band), drum n’ base auteur Roni Size, and more.

Philadelphia-born Hip-Hop MC and DJ Bahamadia gained national attention in the 90s when she joined the Gang Starr Foundation, partnering with the late rapper Guru. Urban Cusp recently caught up with Bahamadia to discuss the past and current landscape in Hip-Hop, female rappers, male cultural domination, and faith in the context of artistry.

Urban Cusp: What would you say has been your greatest contribution to Hip-Hop and what do you continuously do in service of the art and culture?

Bahamadia: Having the courage to be myself creatively is what I will always do as it pertains to Hip-Hop. As an individualist, staying the course traveled thus far set before me by design via art/music/life in general is fundamental. Inspiring others to become who they were created to be is my purpose overall.

UC: Hip-Hop has been historically male-dominated. Is that any different today? If so, how so? If not, what might change the course?

Bahamadia: No [it’s not different]. I’m hopeful there’s a paradigm shift in this area soon which will at the very least even things out. Do It Yourself methods and networking are options.

UC: Black female rappers have historically tended to be hyper masculine or higher sexualized. Why don’t we have a greater balance?

Bahamadia: There is less balance in the industry of music as it pertains to women getting adequate exposure for two main reasons in my opinion. The first is because from a label stand point it has been deemed too expensive/high risk to invest in the overall logistics necessary for female emcees to be marketed aside from sex objects or novelty acts. The second would be the male-dominated industry thrives on controlling the oppressed (in this case women’s) presence and original voice.

UC: How do you reconcile your Christian faith with your passion for Hip-Hop?

Bahamadia: My life as a believer and work are synonymous. All artistic gifts entrusted to me by THE MOST HIGH are to be used for HIS honor and glory. Therefore, my position is non-compromising, though operating from an honest place can sometimes seemingly appear to be suspect.

UC: Where do you see Hip-Hop 20 years from now? Will it get any better and if so, what do we have to do to ensure that it does?

Bahamadia: I am focused on the here and now. Hip-hop branding on the mainstream/ commercialized level is what it is at this time in terms of the business of music. The culture of Hip-hop though turned international decades ago- with it, I believe, the traditional elements that comprise it organically have been preserved to a certain extent. There’s a resurgence of artistic energy currently being released that’s perceived by some to be affixed in the same principles our authentic Hip-Hop movement spawned during its primary years.

 

Rahiel Tesfamariam is a public theologian, social activist, writer and speaker. She is also a former columnist for The Washington Post and founder/ publisher of UrbanCusp.com, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness. Visit Rahiel.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @RahielT.