“Love. Light. The stereotype of how to rock mics right… 2 H’s for Hip Hop”.
This is the essence of hip hop’s ‘Impress’ StaHHr.
In contrast to today’s “rap” which is shoved down our throats via urban radio, StaHHr stands tall as a crusader for the “Golden Era”of REAL hip hop. Seriously! (or as StaHHr would say, ‘siriusly’ :-)) I’ll bet there isn’t a lyric she DOESN’T know from that era!
This emcee -who formerly referred to herself as the ‘femcee’, an acronym for Feminine Energy Mastering Creativity Elevate Eternal- has traveled across the globe and shared stages, ciphers, and/or studio time with the likes of MF Doom, Amiri Baraka, Talib Kweli, Brother J (X-Clan), Dilated Peoples and Prof. Griff (Public Enemy).
Did you know this Memphis, TN-born, mama-of-one is an über-dope crochet artist too? You better ask somebody!
Heeding that advice, I sat down to build with StaHHr to see what makes her shine… after our recent photo shoot for my line of custom blazers.
Earthcandy: It’s been two decades since you began honing your “lyrical warrior skills”. Do you remember your first rhyme you wrote?
StaHHr: Not the lyrics. I remember I wrote it in a 3rd or 4th class period though, back in 1991.
EC: You are very much into metaphysical studies, have a vegan diet and a natural lifestyle. How does that affect your lyrics?
S: Each of those components adds clarity, discipline and focus; my creativity has become even moor expansive. The diet and lifestyle increase stamina, oxygen flow to the brain, so my thoughts are quicker, moor cohesive. The metaphysical studies opened me up to qi gong, pranayama, and yoga which all help with focus and breath control. Meditation enables me to tap in to the current/energy around me and channel those incredible, off- the-top rhymes I’m known for. Verbal alchemy is off the chain; my lyrics and thoughts are moor balanced. I would recommend all three for anyone that is interested in longevity.
EC: I’ve seen the love that prominent artists like KRS-One and Smif -n- Wessun give you. Your confident delivery certainly wins respect. How did you find and develop your flow?
S: Shukran (thank you). Other than being naturally outspoken, I’ve been creatively writing since second grade and was very much into improvisational theater. When I found hip hop, I applied my creative writing and improv skills to it and took off. I would take songs and change the lyrics to fit me, freestyle to myself doing chores, and jump in any cipher I could. I listened to emcees/lyricists/songwriters from every genre, observed how they approached topics, the energy they put into it, dissected everything and applied the jewels. The most important aspect of developing the flow was being comfortable with me…embracing that and doing it to the fullest.
EC: Do you consider yourself an “underground” emcee?
S: I cover under/over/inner and outer ground. I’m everywhere like air. 🙂 Yes, although I prefer to use “independent”, the two words are interchangeable for me. When I think of “underground”, I think of hip hop in its natural, free, pure state before it gets packaged and synthesized; underground is akin to the roots of the tree being firmly planted. I am an emcee that is universal and balanced. Preserving the elements of golden era hip hop and the ancient oral tradition of our ancestors; keeping it fresh and current. I am an emcee that adapts with the times without sacrificing integrity.
EC: Who’s YOUR favorite emcee?
S: Do you want the long or the short answer? 🙂 Redman has always been my most favorite. I have several favorites for different reasons though- Andre 3000, Ghostface, Special Ed, Posdnous, Notorious B.I.G, Del, Mos Def, MC Lyte, Nas, Sean Price, Bahamadia, Buckshot, Busta Rhymes, DOOM, Slick Rick, Big L, Black Thought, Rage. For the new school era J-Live, Jax (R.I.U) Homeboy Sandman, Ekundayo, John Robinson, Jean Grae, Kil Ripkin, Elzhi, Willie Evans Jr., etc…
EC: Is there a difference between emcees trying to make it in the ‘game’ ten years ago and an emcee trying to make it now? Do you think the internet helps?
S: Without a doubt and in more ways than there is room for me to expound here. The same checks and balances that existed 10 years ago are almost nonexistent now. The emphasis on paying dues and earning the emcee title has given way to “pay to play” and Youtube hits being equated with skill. Going the independent route makes way more sense than signing to a label; you have these 360 deals that are the equivalent to slavery, major labels folding or being absorbed. If an artist wants that autonomy and creative control, even a budget, it most likely will be self generated in this age. The internet has helped a great deal. As an independent artist, it has given me exposure to a global audience that would have been much harder to access in the amount of time that I was able to without it. If you know how to use the social networks, blogs, Youtube, etc. to your benefit you can definitely live off of your craft.
Spoken like a true champ. Thanks to the internet, people all over the globe can gaze at StaHHr via her blog (buy one of those fresh tees while you’re there) and follow her on Twitter. You can also buy her album on Bandcamp and iTunes NOW!
Here are some upcoming StaHHr sightings:
If you’re lucky enough to attend, you may get to see her perform her new single –UNBREAKABLE– which releases today (her BIRTHDAY, might I add!) from her forthcoming album, “MOTHER NTR WITH A MOLOTOV” VOL. 1.
But for now, check out the vid for “Still Dope”, the 1st single off StaHHr’s debut album “Almost Neva Was”. *s/n: I was standing RIGHT behind StaHHr when she’s rockin’ the mic with KRSOne (the man who EARTHCANDY GOURMET VEGAN CUISINE catered for that evening*plug*) standing at her side @ 2:12-2:16……….Brrrap!