At RhymeStreet: The New Class Hip Hop event which recently took place on March 9th at Silk City in Philadelphia, The Hip Hop Party for the People (HHPP) had the pleasure of sitting down with some of Philly’s freshest talent for a behind the scenes interview with Ai-Que, Davon, Realysm, Emperess, and Jaye. Each artist took us into their world of music, art and culture. In honor of Women’s History Month we are starting off with Emperess, the city’s youngest verbal assassin as the first in the five part interview series. #VoteHipHop.
Rhymestreet Presents: New Class
By Lissa Alicia for Hip Hop Party For The People
On a chilly winter night, Silk City opened its doors for Rhyme Street Presents: New Class. The event, hosted by Myke Storm, featured five up-and-coming artists from Philadelphia and surrounding areas: Ai-Que, Davon, Realysm, Emperess, and Jaye. As attendes funneled in, they were greeted with what we will call an “opening dance act.” A few ‘super fly’ patrons, who were much older than the usual crowd at the Northern Liberties Venue, we grooving to the nostalgic tracks spun by DJ Benz.
Emperess, the only lady on the bill, has a bubbly personality with some fly kick back rhymes that will have you instantly nodding your head. Hailing from PG County in Maryland, Emperess came to fulfill her dreams as a Hip Hop artist here in Philadelphia.
Lissa: How would you describe your style?
Emperess: A lot of people ask me that and they freak out about the answer. My style is Musically Bi-Polar. I say that because I don’t have too many barriers. I’ll go from strictly Hip Hop to pop to mainstream or whatever. I’m kind of all over the place.
Lissa: What projects do you have available?
Emperess: I have “Outside The Box”, my very first mixtape that came out. Fairy Tale Word, my first EP that came out. I have a bunch of random singles out. I am working on five other projects.
Lissa: Why do you continue to do music?
Emperess: I love it. I can’t let go of it at all. I was raised around it. I’m literally attached to it. The love is too deep (for me) to let it go.
Lissa: Independent vs. signed
Emperess: Me being on the outside looking in, I see people who have been signed, and there is a lot that is being ripped away from them. Genuine artist are not doing much. The labels are looking at artist to see what they can get for themselves so they don’t have to put that much out there. If I have to do all of this work, by myself in order for someone to recognize me, why not continue to do, and continue to be the original person that I am, as opposed to being molded to what you want me to be? If I get signed its all cool, I just let people know, “Yo!”I got standards!”
Lissa: What is your take on the Philly scene and where do you stand in it?
Emperess: I don’t know if I stand anywhere in it fa’real. I’m really really really new to this scene. From what I have seen, there is a lot of love that goes into it, but there is also a lot of love for this group of people, a lot of love for this group of people. It’s good to see people to make their way up that ladder. It’s a lot of love among artist, from what I see. It could be different to anybody else who has been here for a long time. (For me) for the past year, year and a half, it looks like it is a lot of support amongst artist. There are a lot of fans also. You don’t get that in Baltimore. Usually you go to a show and it is like a crowd full of artist supporting artist. No fans. I see a lot of fans here.
Lissa: March is Women’s History Month, seeing how the time is fitting, what is your opinion on misogyny in Hip Hop?
Emperess: It hasn’t died at all. It is alive and well. Of course we are getting that a lot more because we have (artist) like Nicki (Minaj), who is supposed to be the voice of everybody. But now that gives everybody else the misconception as to what other female artist are doing. That’s what they expect. That’s what they want. Yo! I’m fully dressed. I hate make up. I can actually rhyme (Laughter). The main thing that gets me: all these cliques and crews and stuff are trying to get that one female to be that poster and the “First Lady”. But it is always one image, and one type of sound. It is not much diversity in this at all. I don’t think that it ever has been.
Lissa: What is next for you as an artist?
Emperess: To get all these projects out. Other than that finally sit down and put an album out. Just to keep my name out there. Let people know that there is something else other than what you are seeing in music as far as women in Hip Hop goes. If Hip Hop keeps going at the rate that it is going, slowly but surely it will gain its purity back. Kendrick (Lamar) is holding it right now. Joey Badass is holding it right now. I am so proud of him. If people like that are coming out, then we are looking pretty good for the future.
Lissa: What do you Hope to be next for Philadelphia?
Emperess: There needs to be a really big turnaround. Thing are going downhill fast. There are a bunch of kids everywhere that have nowhere to go with no options. Us, as adults, this is our generation that we have to take care of. We have to take responsibility. They might not be our kids per se’, but they are a part of us. We have to help build them up. You won’t be complaining about how the kids are going crazy, you are part of the responsibility. You are not doing anything to take action.
Lissa: A lot of people have their thoughts about the future of America. Good or bad, what are your thoughts?
Emperess: I have such a vivid imagination. It might not be a zombie apocalypse itself, but it will look like The Walking Dead [Laughs]. If things don’t change, and we don’t get a move on, that’s whats it is going to be. A bunch of us just walking with no purpose at all. As far as education, that’s what is bugging me. It is starting to affect the kids in my family. I don’t want to see people diminishing my family. How they are reacting as far as the school and shutting everything down. Not making anything accessible for the kids to have an outlet. Keep the arts in school. People need an outlet. You keep taking that away, what are you going to do? You are keeping everything in a box.