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H.E.R Story: The joys and pains of the female Emcee - Part II

24 Sep 2005
Eternia is ambitious, she’s as hungry as any young emcee serious about longevity need to be. Eternia was hooked on Hip Hop after an introduction by her older brother. Early on, being relatively new to the game, she admits “I never really considering the struggle or what I was dealing with as woman in Hip Hop until years later.” Now, it’s a different story, she is well aware of the business of Hip Hop, aware of the competition and the killer instincts an emcee must have to survive.
“I would like females not to be viewed as a risk by labels, I’d like to get to a point where there is no question that we are marketable.”

Of course, you must have some cojones to be a female without a crew in a city that has entire neighbourhoods backing an artist. Resources have to be made available to an artist.

Toronto Emcee Masia One - photo courtesy of www.rice-cafe.com

These resources be they financial, production or otherwise can help push an artist to the very top.

“Think about most male emcees that you know are successful in Canada not the states, all had a crew. People that made it, all of them had a crew, be it Kardi, Choclair, Rikoshay, you name it and think about a female that has had that much backing. They don’t exist.”

When asked what she hopes females can bring to the genre, she replies positively, “I would hope that females who blow up in the mainstream would bring balance to a very one-sided genre, and not just talking about female respect. But balance in subject matter and how it is being discussed. If anything I would hope females will bring to Hip-hop more balance.”

Just as Eternia is on the grind to feed Toronto’s Hip Hop appetite so is our next emcee Sage.

Sage is a young woman with an old soul. She is a student of the old school,Latifah, Roxanne Chanté and Lady Bug Mecca being just a few of her inspirations. Her moniker suits her unique personality which subtly yet deafeningly commands respect. She’s an artist who knows no boundaries. She raps, she sings, she creates, even wearing pieces of her craft when we met. Early on, she has shown tenacity and courage when faced with obstacles in her career choice. Not being able to find the sound she desperately wanted for her music, Sage left Toronto and found her way to New York City where she got that opportunity and was able to learn from like minded emcees.

A chance meeting with Q-tip at a Zulu Nation conference in 1998 led her to connect with Mos Def (at humble beginnings) and a plethora of like-minded artists on the New York underground hip hop circuit.

"I built foundations when I lived in Brooklyn that will always be there for me," she says.

“It helped me develop as an artist and as person.” She encourages other emcees to develop their talent and educate themselves for success.

“If you wanna rhyme hone your skills that’s the most important thing, it doesn’t matter who you meet who you know. People try to network first but they don’t realize they have to get their product together first. They gotta get themselves together.”

Toronto Emcee Eternia - Photo courtesy of www.eternia.ca

When asked about getting respect as a female emcee, she says “There are still a lot of people who don’t want to hear females rhyme period,” but “If somebody is good, there good and if there not, it has nothing to do with being male or female.”

Sage is also quite outspoken on the roles female emcees have in Hip Hop.

“There are two kinds of female emcees, either you’re like the soft porn star, you may not write your own rhymes and you’re really overtly sexual or you have to be on some little boy type vibe. There aren’t many people who have been able to find that balance, as women it will happen you just have to be able to find that medium.”

She is still hopeful about the role females will play in Hip Hop’s future and advises “it has always been male dominated that doesn’t mean its not going to change, Just be yourself and have good lyrics.” Industry insiders are cautious but optimistic, many think the female emcee will simply have to work ten times harder and keep on striving for that dream.

“Talent is undeniable and timing is everything,” says one universal urban marketing representative I spoke to. Will it be enough?

Eternia launched her first CD "It''s Called Life" at Sugar Night Club (57 Duncan) on Wednesday September 21st, 2005. It is available at www.eternia.ca

Tara Chase''s latest CD "The College Graduate Mix tape" is available at www.tarachase.com

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