by Minister of Info JR
Oakland has never had a dominant rapper who’s a woman in its long rap history. For that matter, Northern Cali has only had one woman from the hood who was making noise in the ghetto and that was Marvaless from Sacramento in the ‘90s. Today in the Town, the Sobrante Park bred Silence the Violence activist and rapper Queen Deelah is the one who is turning heads from the Town all the way to Austin, Texas. Recently while I was in Austin, I ran into Deelah, the transplant who had taken over the sleepy Texas city in a matter of months. We sat down to do this interview …
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell people how you started rapping? When? Where?
Queen Deelah: I started rapping when I was 9 years old, growing up in Sobrante Park, Oakland. I used to listen to one of my big brothers, Demaurri, and my cousin Robert. They would record their raps on tape and my cousin Christa and I would take the tapes and learn all the words. It wasn’t soon after that that I knew I wanted to be a MC. My cousin Christa wrote my first rap that I would go around town spittin’ and by 12-13, I was writing my own raps!
M.O.I. JR: What made you commit yourself seriously to your hobby?
Queen Deelah: What made me commit to my calling – because this is not a hobby? Music is my life and purpose. It was in the early ‘90s. I remember being a lil girl and it was 11-5 day, which is Nov. 5, and we celebrate for all the fallen soldiers in our hood. I saw Plan B and his lil bra Bobby Blu Nose rippin’! Me and Bobby was close in age, and I was thinking how dope that was to see one of my peers up there rocking! Like I said along with the influence of my brother and cousins I knew that this is what I wanted to do!
M.O.I. JR: What is the name of this mixtape, and how does it differ from your past work?
Queen Deelah: The name of my mixtape is “Showin Out.” It dropped on June 30. This is my first mixtape. I have featured on countless mixtapes, from West to East, but what’s different about it is it’s all original. I have dropped two albums, “Rize for Da Queen” and “Longevity,” but this is the first free music that I am able to throw out to my fans.
Also coming out of the Bay, I have many studios I work out of. This is the first project all recorded out of one studio. The work on this mixtape talks about who I currently am and displays, I believe, the evolution of hip hop. It starts strong with a positive message, but as the songs flip through, you would notice it getting real grimmy, because that’s the times we live in! “Showin Out” is what I feel inside, that I can throw a music project out to the people and let them know what is real through my eyes.
M.O.I. JR: A few years back you moved to Austin, Texas. How is Oakland and Austin similar? How are they different?
Queen Deelah: I have relocated to the South in Austin, Texas. It was truly a transition, being someone who is on the frontline for peace in the Bay! I love Austin. It is a beautiful space where I get to see all the things we don’t have in the Bay, that help young people excel, and I take back these ideas.
Oakland and Austin is the same in a lot of ways because you have a strong presence of pillars for peace, who want to push LOVE in the universe. They are different because Oakland has this rebellion that a lot of places around the world don’t have – that go-getter just-do-it attitude. I see a lot of people in Austin that want to make stuff happen and just don’t make it happen. Where in the Bay, we don’t care; we just gone do it, and get it poppin! Austin is up and coming, but a real dope city to live in.
M.O.I. JR: How does the music scene in Austin compare to the Bay? Can you talk about winning rap awards in Austin?
Queen Deelah: The Austin scene compares to the Bay, because what I noticed is that folks here LOVE the West Coast hip hop scene! They kind of look at what we are doin’ and what we did, as a template to get Austin up to speed. I have been embraced here, as if I am from here.
It’s a beautiful thing to have a home away from home. I was here three months, and I was grindin’ hard, attending every showcase and open mic when I met some cats from the Above All Entertainment family, and the next thing I know, I was nominated in the Austin Hip Hop Awards ‘09 and won the performance of the year award! All I can say, God is great and I am honored to have the love and support.
M.O.I. JR: Are you ever coming back to live in the Bay?
Queen Deelah: I am most definitely moving back to the Bay. I am always there, every couple of months promoting and recording with my fam. I made a promise to myself that when I move back home, that I will have more resources for my people.
Right now, I am still grindin’ state to state, letting the people know Oakland is still here, and the issues that we are facing. It’s important that young people’s voices are heard, and we create things for them to do, to give them a chance. A lot of folks are afraid of the Bay, based off of stereotypes, and I am in a place to let them know the real, and get folks involved. So YES YES YES, I will be back home soon!
M.O.I. JR: Where do you see yourself as an artist in the next five years?
Queen Deelah: I see myself in the next five years as a worldwide artist known for spitting dope lyrics, investing into my community and always willing to connect with my people. I am the voice of the people and most def the woman. I will be someone known as a hands-on pillar for peace and coming up with solutions to better our world. I see myself in divine love and projecting that in the universe! I know and believe that GOD has called me to do amazing thing for his people. I’m just excited to do his work.
M.O.I. JR: Who were some of your lyrical inspirations?
Queen Deelah: Some of my lyrical inspirations growing up is Tupac of course, Queen Latifah, MC Lite, Digital Underground, Hammer, just to name a few. All these artists created real music that is still relevant to what’s happening today. When people categorize me like we do, I want to be in this box! Known for bringing that real heart felt music!
M.O.I. JR: Why is peace in the hood a big theme in your music?
Queen Deelah: Peace in the hood is the biggest theme in my music because it’s so needed! I have lost over 20 family, friends and associates in the past three years. It’s so hard to live in constant pain and someone needs to start the healing process, so I have volunteered myself to be that person.
We are known for living in the land of the pimps, hoes and hustlas now. BUT this is the home of the Panthers, knowledge and wisdom! The system came in and stripped the people and now we lack the knowledge of who we truly are! But since I know who we are, that’s what I am going to represent and keep people informed about their rights and how to make a difference.
M.O.I. JR: How can people get your mixtape? How could people stay on line with you?
Queen Deelah: You can get the mixtape on Tweet My Song, http://tweetmysong.com/2qv3xm, also available on Limelinx, http://limelinx.com/files/d923182b12dae894d588f750247697ef, all free download. I have a website, www.queendeelah.com, coming soon. Hit me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/queendeelah, or tweet me, www.twitter.com/queendeelah, and be looking out for my third solo album, “Supreme Being,” coming real soon.
Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe,” both available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.