19 Mar BadKat: Beyond the Beat
BadKat is an edutainer, firing from all cylinders as an MC, singer, activist, and more. Hitting the stage alongside the likes of hip hop icons like KRS-One, De La Soul, and Bahamadia and holding her own is to be expected from this performer.
Now overseas continuing her artistic journey, I caught up with BadKat and got some insight into the world of music and beyond…
Which artists/genres did you grow up listening to?
Everything. When I was little my mom loved her Oldie Goldies, which is where I became familiar with anything from the Beatles to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis – anything that she could dance to. We would dance in the kitchen while she was cooking dinner on a regular basis. My father had less time for music, but favorited blues and country, however also introduced me to big band music, as it was particularly impressive to him. I also had 3 older sisters, whom spanned various genres due to age differences. So, from them I was surrounded by more classic rock (from the oldest siblings) like the Commodores, Phil Collins, Led Zepplin, Credence Clearwater, ect. While my third sister had me listening to more indi-rock and underground bands like Oingo Boingo and the likes. It was in high school that she introduced me to Jimi Hendrix on one weed-induced listening session. It was then that I started digging into the realm of Hip Hop, Reggae, and psychedelic music.
Why did you move to Berlin?
I wanted to leave the US for personal, political and economic reasons. I took a 3-month backpack trip around Europe to see if I found a new place to call home, when by accident I traveled to Berlin. With the first 3 days, I realized this was a special place, especially for musicians, and even more specifically musicians such as myself, and after 3 weeks had developed a firm belief that this would be my new home. Six years later, I can say I was right.
Has moving overseas changed your artistic ‘zone’?
Absolutely. Back home, I was a Hip Hop MC, with no bones about it. However, since being here I was able to see just how far outside of the box my potential was. Meaning, over time, working with various musicians in various genres, I realized that I had a place in many more arenas than just Hip Hop. Since then, it has helped me grow into a fuller version of myself. To know that there is no purpose in limiting my abilities to one genre, and instead to grow in as many directions as my soul takes me, has really helped my composition, arrangement and writing skills grow exponentially.
Compare and contrast American hip hop vs. hip hop overseas.
Hip Hop in the US seems to serve a different purpose for musicians than it does here in Germany. I know back home, Hip Hop saved my life several times, by giving me an outlet to express my suffering, my joy, and various other opinions. By using it as an expressive outlet, it kept me from doing this that would end me up in jail, or in violence. I know this is true for many young people back home – as we all are dealing with various forms of grueling oppression, having an outlet as unbiased as Hip Hop was very helpful for our spiritual and mental well-being. I would say the factors here in Germany are different (as well as some other countries with similar socio-economic scenarios, however I have spent the bulk of my time in Germany, so that it what I will refer to). People here have much more. The quality of living is higher, there is a social safety net, and therefore circumstances for many people here do not instigate the same amount of fear and anxiety that we experience in the US. Thus, what comes out of their Hip Hop content and context is fundamentally different.
Who are current up and coming artists that you admire?
Well, still one of my favorites from the recent years that I have been waiting to drop an album is Jay Electronica. His content and writing style is simply amazing. I am still looking forward to hearing what he drops next. One of my favorite albums recently has been Isam by Amon Tobin – beautiful work there. And other than that, I tend to surround myself with people whom I think are up and coming, so just my few favorites is the Duct Tape project by Batsauce and Wynton Kelly Stevenson; of course Giotto, who not only produces and DJs for me, but is involved in many other projects, and this young man is a force to be reckoned with. He is producing across a slew of genres, and just keeps getting better.
Is hip hop dead or is that just an outcry from hip hop ‘purists’?
Hip Hop won’t ever die, as long as the principles of Hip Hop are alive somewhere. But like everything, it is constantly changing, evolving, and growing. For example, Giotto and I now have a show that is done entirely from the DJ booth, we cover everything from techno to dub, and lots of in between, but for me it is still Hip Hop. It’s a philosophy – a way of life – not a specific rhythm, cadence, or change of clothes. As long as we have that philosophy in our hearts, Hip Hop will never die.
What do you think about the current state of female hip hop?
Sex sells, and talent is underrated. So, if a woman is talented, she must sell her sexiness to have people hear her music. If she has talent, but no sex appeal, she is not going to do well. If she is super sexy, but has no talent, she will be a star. You could easily make similar parallels with men in Hip Hop these days. This is how mainstream media works, though, and could be said for women in any genre of music.
If you could have one collabo with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be?
Jimi. All day. Hendrix.
Iggy Azalea – the next big real thing or the real fake thing – next!?
Whack as fuck. First, I will start by saying I hate how she sounds. Maybe it’s the fake southern rap accent, or maybe it’s just that her voice is just as annoying as many other female rappers who do not know about their ‘voice’. When I combine it with the content, I just can’t stop thinking about how many Lil Wayne cds she must’ve listened to for hours to try and perfect copying a style, a culture, and a fantasy world of trap rap (keep in mind we call it Trap rap because it’s negative content perpetuates our youth falling into the ‘TRAP’ of our oppressors). And in the end, when I have seen a brief glimpse of Iggy in an interview I can’t help but think how disgusting it must feel to be that fake. She may as well dress up in black face, and end every other bar with ‘yes massa’ while she barely rides her dirty south beats into the sunset of the outback.
Describe your music in a catchphrase.
BadKat. No one makes you sweat harder.
Have a listen and let us know what you think about Get Together.
And for more sexy music, sample The Cum Down
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