How Genesis Be Defies “Women in Hip Hop” Stereotypes

Genesis Be packs beauty and intellect in one punch. The girl also gives back to her community, surprises us in ways we least expect – like her music being embraced at Southern strip clubs, her songs containing political statements, a family story involving the fight for black equality and finding solace as a Hurricane Katrina survivor in her lyrics.

Who said women can’t be strong and sexy?

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When I saw your music video, I felt like I was watching a 90’s Foxy Brown video. I don’t mean to offend you in any way by comparing you to other women, it’s a compliment; something about your voice tone and delivery. Do you get told this often?

That’s the first comparison to Foxy Brown that i’ve gotten, lol. She’s dope! I actually met her recently at a diner I frequent in Brooklyn. She was sweet and supportive when I told her about my musical aspirations. I disagree though, my voice and delivery are deep south influenced, southern twang if you will… not so much Brooklyn swag like hers. Being compared to the GREATS, is always a good thing though. I grew up listening the Foxy, Lil Kim, Left Eye is my favorite along with Big L. Queen Latifah and Pac.

“Tampons & Tylenol” received a lot of national press mentions far away from your regular fans on the Gulf Coast. How much has this broadened your fan base?

I don’t know. I received more followers on my twitter and instagram, but that doesn’t mean they are fans you know? “Tampons & Tylenol” is a gimmicky song… its risky, its sexual, its controversial… and I think that is why it got the recognition it did from LA Times, Village Voice, Daily Beast etc. My previous work that deals with issues such as domestic violence, corporate war profits, bullying etc… hasn’t received half the attention that “Tampons & Tylenol” did lol. Thats the music biz for you though. I created “Tampons & Tylenol” to poke fun at the objectification of women in mainstream entertainment. Even female entertainers play into it, yes as women we are sexy, but there are many layers and facets that are not being explored in mainstream music. Sexual empowerment is all GOOD but what about economic, spiritual & mental empowerment. As a young woman, i’m just not hearing or seeing enough of that in the media.

Do you think women have it harder in rap: men get away with saying things and women get scrutinized if they have the same lyrics? Or have times changed?

As an independent artist, I don’t have to worry about a label threatening my release if my lyrics or style is not to their liking. All I can do is be myself and put my art out. I don’t think about how having a vagina will affect the perception of my art. People are going to scrutinize me regardless, every artist has to be prepared for that you know. Its not about what you get back (whether positive or negative feedback) its all about what you put out and staying true to your essence. I think all aspiring artists have it “hard” regardless of gender.

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Taken verbatim from your website bio: “I am allergic to bull#@! and addicted to fresh.” Most original and funniest statement I’ve ever seen in a biography. Is a lot of your work the result of someone pissing you off about anything – work, dating, etc. – and you resorting to positivity, with enriching your music?

Lol, well thanks, I’m glad that gave you a giggle. My work rarely reflects any anger that I have towards a person. Any anger in my work is usually directed toward a source of social injustice… an institution or particular individuals who are causing pain to others (Bush, Gen. Patraeus, Pol Pot, Ariel Sharon, Hitler, Charles Taylor) have all made appearances in my lyrics but I digress. With my new album “GENESEQUA” i’ve tried to focus more on love, amor, heartbreak, reflection, temptation and lust. My earlier work had more “anger” because I was younger, confused about the the World around me and sad about what I was seeing. I was a teenager then, now I am a young woman dealing with my own battles you know. Seeking a larger platform for my message and art.

Your family has a deep connection to the Southern civil rights era. With that in mind, how does that change your music as opposed to someone who grew up without that backstory and might not understand any real struggles?

My Grandfather Rev. Clyde Briggs sacrificed so much for what he believed in. The protection of his community, voting rights for his friends & family… these are things that he gave his life for… he fought for things that our generation takes for granted. As American youth, we fail to understand that our ancestors are survivors of a twisted, violent institution… from which they fought tooth and nail to overcome so that their kids could live with dignity. We are the product of a long history of struggle, that still continues. Honestly, just understanding where I come from gives me strength to say what ever I feel, to be fearless and to stand up and speak up for those who are not able to… for whatever reason. I don’t say words like “nigga” in my music or in real life, just out of respect for my ancestors and what they had to go through behind the mentality of the word “nigga,” I know I’m the daughter of Queens, scholars and warriors, I’m not a “nigga” in any sense of the word.

What is your new year going to be like in 2014 with any resolutions, work, etc.?

I would love to travel more. I’m working on going to Europe and doing a few shows in France once “GENESEQUA” is released in the summer of 2014. I just want to experience more, I want to make music, make money, make love and in the process make positive change. 🙂 Yeah…that’s about it.

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