Article, Interviews

BRANDIE BLAZE: BOSTON’S TRAP FEMINIST MC

[Via DigBoston]

“Yeah, I’m bossed up. That’s what my music is about.”

While her parents may have given her “the talk” as a teenager, Brandie Blaze says she learned a lot more about the birds and the bees from Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliot. The 32-year-old hip-hop artist remembers walking to school listening to The Notorious K.I.M. on her blue Walkman and being struck by the pride Lil’ Kim showed in her body and her sexuality.

Inspired by the shameless self-love of her idols, Blaze uses lyrics to reverse the power dynamics of rap music and redefine what it means to be a woman in the industry. Born and raised in Boston, she tells the story of the city from a queer, black, plus-size, and female perspective. Raised on ’70s R&B records and the female powerhouses of ’90s rap, Blaze combines activism and nostalgia, creating socially conscious cuts with a local focus and universal message.

“I would describe my sound as trap feminism,” Blaze explained. “You don’t have to feel pressured to be something you’re not. You can be anyone, and you can be anything, and you can still be sexual and still tell them, Yeah, I’m bossed up. That’s what my music is about.”

Blaze says she’s been an entertainer since she was just 3 years old, and it shows in her sets. Having first performed on stages with a jazz dance class as a young girl, the rapper jokes that she was only in it for the outfits at the time. She also had a brief stint with vocal and acting lessons, but even though those didn’t stick, Blaze was still drawn to the spotlight and eventually found her place in poetry and rap. Now she’s captivating audiences—just instead of local dance recitals, she’s rocking shows at venues like the Sinclair.

Blaze hasn’t been writing rhymes her whole life. The rapper says she didn’t pen her first poem until junior high school, when she started using poetry to help cope with a death in the family.

“It felt good because I was able to express all of the things I was too shy or too scared to say,” Blaze explained. “I just kept writing from there.”

These days, you might see Blaze sitting in her car, blasting music and writing hooks, or practicing the flow for a new track during her commute. While her passion for writing was born out of tragedy, beyond personal expression she says she uses her poetry as a platform for public outcry. Specifically, Blaze tries to connect with and empower those with perspectives that are often overlooked in hip-hop. To that end, she blends substance with silliness, using lyrics that can sometimes seem inconsequential to mask witty retorts to the problematic lack of representation of certain minority groups in the culture.

“I write primarily for black women, especially fat black women,” Blaze said. “There just isn’t enough for us. … I mean, how many times can we listen to cishet men on the radio be like, ‘I’m gonna disrespect you?’

“It gets old, it gets boring. People want to hear something different.”

Blaze is just that—something different. The rapper explains that she uses Boston’s unique “sound” to her advantage, exploiting the local scene’s lack of a cohesive style to create music that is undeniably her own.

“Some people see [the lack of a sound] as a weakness, but to me, it’s great because there’s something for everyone.”

Blaze works primarily with DJ WhySham and her engineer Fresh, as well as a number of area producers to build tracks that are both playful and substantive—“hip-hop with a message,” as Blaze calls it. Her new single, “Drown,” drops this week and is a perfect example of the rapper’s lighthearted but poignant style. In it, the MC rhymes about an ex-boyfriend of hers who she met after boxing him in at a gas station. “He see all this ass lit up by headlights,” she raps.

On the strength of solid rhymes and shows, the buzz around Blaze is increasing. All while she explores intricacies of female sexuality, relationships, and meeting significant others while blocking traffic.

“Some people get to a certain point and they don’t look behind them,” Blaze said. “No matter how big and how far this goes—it can go nowhere and it can go everywhere—I have to stay humble and stay grounded.”

BRANDIE BLAZE SINGLE RELEASE SHOW W/ LIK MERAKI AND TREVA HOLMES. THU 3.14. DORCHESTER ART PROJECT, 1486 DORCHESTER AVE., BOSTON.

Written by Olivia Mastrosimone for DigBoston

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