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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