Chica­go based rap­per Mz.Olivia takes the time out to dis­cuss her recent single ‘Gang­stas Pray­er’. We unpack what it means to be a female in the Hip-Hop industry, and how grief and moth­er­hood has had an impact on her music. 

Tell us a bit about grow­ing up in Chica­go and how that influ­enced the music you make?

Grow­ing up on the south side of Chica­go gave me many dif­fer­ent out­looks on life, from hav­ing to eat din­ner in my room some­times fear­ing that gun­shots would come through the win­dow, to not being able to play out­side because we nev­er knew when they’d start shoot­ing in front of the house. There are so many people with dif­fer­ent stor­ies and in dif­fer­ent phases of life, I had to exam­ine that and say to myself , do i want to be like the people linger­ing in my neigh­bor­hood with no hope, out­side every­day or did I want to be dif­fer­ent , did I want some­thing bet­ter for myself?

Every­one in my fam­ily worked hard but I knew I could eas­ily be just as down on my luck as the next per­son. Being from Chica­go gave me clear examples that your des­tiny is in your own hands you can be from Chica­go and be extremely poor, or extremely wealthy. This also taught me to be aware of my sur­round­ings and people I asso­ci­ate with, in fear that they may have negative/violent ties to someone else and I’m the one that gets tar­geted or caught in the cross fire. Chica­go artists have always been dif­fer­ent, when some people hear Chica­go they asso­ci­ate it with drill rap or viol­ent mur­der­ous rap­pers. Chica­go has heav­ily influ­enced drill rap but when I think about Chica­go I think about Kanye West, Twista, Juice Wrld, Chance the Rap­per, and Polo G. I think about the cre­at­ive­ness, artist being their true self and not con­form­ing to their envir­on­ment but still thriv­ing and hav­ing an extremely suc­cess­ful music career. Chica­go and Chica­go nat­ive rap­pers showed me that I can be myself, have my own sound, own lingo, own style and still flour­ish in the music industry as a Woman.

You were raised in a reli­gious house­hold, how did that shape who you are today and your music?

Grow­ing up in a reli­gious house­hold, I read a lot and I learned to read very flu­ently at an early age. In 7th grade I was read­ing at an 11th grade level, which came from so much bible study at home. Grow­ing up I did­n’t cel­eb­rate birth­days, hol­i­days, could­n’t play in sports in school, very restric­ted for the most part. But with that being said I learned to be grate­ful, my mom spoiled me and made sure that there was no reas­on for me to be jeal­ous or for me to feel like I’m miss­ing out on any­thing when those hol­i­days came around. In this aspect in shaped me to be a very laid back con­tent per­son. When I saw kids get­ting presents I was­n’t envi­ous cause I knew I was get­ting some­thing the next week or the week before, this def­in­itely showed me how to “wait my turn”. I was extremally dis­cip­lined at a young age, bible study every­day 2 weekly meet­ing to attend, it was a lot but it was Grand­par­ents reli­gion so, that’s just what we had to fol­low along with.

Tell us a bit about your new single ‘Gang­stas Pray­er’? What was the pro­cess behind cre­at­ing it, and where did you get your lyr­ic­al inspir­a­tion from?

Well ini­tially Gang­stas Pray­er had a dif­fer­ent hook that had noth­ing to do with pray­er, reli­gion, any­thing at all. But my grand­moth­er gave me a call and we talked and at the end of our con­vo she said she’s pray­ing for me and asked if I still pray. I told her of course I still pray, I’m big on the law of attrac­tion so I ask the uni­verse to sur­round me with good genu­ine people that have my best interest at heart (lord pro­tect me from the fake), I also ask that whatever trouble­some or neg­at­ive energy that’s linger­ing in my soul or heart be released (let it go don’t ever dwell). So when I went back to fin­ish writ­ing the song, I added that idea and it came out amaz­ing lol.

Moth­er­hood has had a massive impact on your life, extremely sorry for the loss of your moth­er. How did you chan­nel your grief through Hip-Hop?

I appre­ci­ate you say­ing that. It’s so iron­ic because the thing that my mom and I related on the most was music, she had great taste, I’ll walk in the house and she’s play­ing songs that I was just listen­ing to in the car lol. But when I had my first baby, my moms first grand­child, then 3 months later she passed away, I was dev­ast­ated. Going through preg­nancy you ima­gine when your baby gets here, how life’s going to be who’s going to be help­ing you out and show­ing you the ropes, and that per­son for me was my mom. Then for her to pass was just so sud­den and untimely. I had so many emo­tions, I felt like I was going insane. I’m mad, sad, con­fused, angry about my moms passing, then on the oth­er hand I have this pre­cious new beau­ti­ful life that I
just want to love, then I turn around and think how unfor­tu­nate it is that my daugh­ter won’t have the hon­or to grow up with my mom around and vice versa. I was sad think­ing about everything, cry­ing, listen­ing to music and I got a rush of all those
emo­tions at one time and it just felt like I could­n’t breathe, anxi­ety attacks were very fre­quent around that time. I turned on a Drake instru­ment­al for his song “Karaōke” and poured out my heart and wrote an entire 3 verse song about my mom, her passing, and my daugh­ter. Iron­ic­ally Drake was our favor­ite artist, we both knew his songs by heart. After I let my boy­friend hear what I wrote it was his­tory. It was authen­t­ic, but it was also actu­ally pretty good. From there I start beat shop­ping find­ing dif­fer­ent beats and songs that I felt like could relate to me and me per­son­al­ity. I have the tal­ent and work eth­ic, I’m just try­ing to con­tin­ue to build my fan base and grow my sup­port­ers.

Do you feel the Hip-Hop industry still needs to make space for females? Have you faced any bound­ar­ies?

This is a great ques­tion to ask at this time in Hip-Hop because in this moment, female rap­pers are car­ry­ing the rap game. I think the music industry is start­ing to real­ize how prof­it­able women can be in the busi­ness, female rap­pers are very mar­ket­able. Female rap­pers are tal­en­ted, attract­ive, com­pli­ant, don’t neces­sar­ily have to worry about them get­ting into too much trouble or arres­ted, their ver­sat­ile, and usu­ally not extremely viol­ent, all this plays a huge part when it comes to things like endorse­ments, and collaborations.9/10 new rap­pers I see on social media are females and they’re tal­en­ted too, I’m just wait­ing on my time to shine in this this industry.

Hip-Hop is slowly but surely mak­ing room for us, they have no choice it’s so many of us out here now and we’re elev­at­ing. The biggest chal­lenge I’ve faced as a female artist espe­cially in Chica­go, is a lot of times my music does­n’t relate to Chica­go’s “aes­thet­ic” if it’s not drill rap then no one wants to hear what I’m say­ing, or guys in my dm ask­ing to meet up with me when I’m just try­ing to get sup­port on my song. But as an artist you have to under­stand your demo­graph­ic.

My goal is not to get all of Chica­go to sup­port my music but get people who actu­ally like and relate to my music to sup­port me no mat­ter where their from. Major­ity of my supporters/fan base are across dif­fer­ent states and hope­fully now coun­tries. I also have to real­ize in a world of social media any­body feels like they can say any­thing so I just ignore those flir­ta­tious com­ments and send my song again haha.

What music have you got com­ing out, and what can we expect?

I have a very upbeat, lit song com­ing out soon that gives off com­pletely dif­fer­ent vibe from Gang­stas Pray­er, but I try to stay on my toes, stay ver­sat­ile, and relate to every­one in my fan base so don’t be sur­prised if my styles altern­ate, this next drop is going to be some­thing so fun and epic I can­’t wait for you all to hear it!

Listen Here to Gang­stas Pray­er

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.