VI: THE EMERGING FEMALE RAPPER IN L.A. YOU NEED TO KNOW
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The rap game is reinventing itself, and there is no lack of female rappers to match the score in the once-upon-a-time male-dominated genre. More and more women are not only rapping, but doing it amazingly, proving that women had the motive and the spirit all allong, but did not have the same support or opportunities as men in the industry.
On Twitter, VI – a.k.a @sixsaidit – introduces herself as a “Rapper, Nurse, YouTuber, Influencer, Hair and Wig Slayer”. For Zaftyg, she is one of the most outstanding talents in L.A.’s Hip Hop music scene.
Everyone has a story to tell. VI’s bold energy is captured in sound. At 24 years old, the British-Nigerian creative living in the U.S. delivers a powerful message through her music and her path promises to inspire you. Curious? We want you to meet the woman behind the verses.
Life & Work
Tell me about yourself.
I like to consider myself a cosmopolitan as I tend to find home wherever I move to. People who know me would describe me as ambitious, and multifaceted. I was the child in first grade that believed their teacher when they told us “you could do anything you put your mind to,” and have been living on that mantra ever since. I love music, art, and what people would call “trash” television.
How would you describe what you do for a living?
I currently work as a travel RN working for COVID relief, but my job doesn’t end there. I am a rapper, graphic designer, hairstylist, YouTuber (on a “let’s get my life together” day), and a small business developer.
Tell us about your musical journey.
Funny enough, I actually got into music pretty early because both of my mother’s younger brothers had a very short stint in the UK/African rap scene when I was 5-6 years old. I would always grab their mics and pretend that I was in their music videos on their camcorders. When I got older the idea of me making my music always resurfaced but I was always so insecure about my voice and what people around me would think, ESPECIALLY my parents, who decided pretty early on that I was meant to be the doctor of the family. It wasn’t until June of 2019 when I randomly decided to go on stage and perform a City Girls song at a Trap Karaoke event in Queens that I realized that I should seriously consider it. I ended up hitting up one of my producer friends and he was able to get me to my first ever studio session in November where I recorded my first song: Buckhead Freestyle.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
On my 5th birthday, we had just got back from my epic party at Pizza Hut and my mom and all her girlfriends came back to our flat for the supposed “after-party”. I remember MTV Jams being in the background and watching my mom and her friends all dancing and laughing to Danger by Mystikal. Hip-hop had always filled our small flat in Brent, and I was put onto artists like Kelis, Eve, Mystikal, and Pharrell at a very young age because of my uncles. One of my uncles visited the US in the 90s, and had huge blown-up pictures of himself pictured with these artists in our living room. I remember telling the kids in primary school that my Uncle was Snoop Dogg just because we had a big blown-up picture of him and I assumed him and my Uncle Ray were homeboys.
“I was inspired by all of the different cultures and sounds from the places that I have lived and experienced.”
You launched a new EP. Tell us about the creative process. What inspired you?
I was inspired by all of the different cultures and sounds from the places that I have lived and experienced. Outside the EP is such a special project to me because it describes who I am through my music. The question “where are you from?” always daunted me because I never really felt like I was from just one place, so it was cool to be able to showcase the different sides of me. I also wanted people to be able to get a taste of the diversity in hip-hop through my music. So people who typically listen to trap were able to try out afrobeat and people who typically listen to UK Drill were able to listen to alternative rap. I wrote each of the songs on the EP at the most random times. Whether it was in my car on my way home from work, or my lunch break, I was always creating an alternate sense of reality from my current work-home-sleep cycle.
What’s the greatest fear you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today?
Being judged, really. I just had to get over it. I used to care so much about the way I sounded, what I looked like, what everyone else was doing. I knew making music was going to be something that took me out of my comfort zone because I didn’t necessarily fit in with what was already out there, but I just had to stop caring and allow myself to be vulnerable.
You wrote a novel called “Diary of a Sad Black Woman”. Describe your worst date in three words.
AHHH lol welp! Sweaty, Halitosis, Dutch.
What’s your motto?
It’s never going to be 100%, just do it and worry about the rest later. God got you.
How do you deal with hip-hop’s history of being somewhat of a misogynistic genre?
I used to think it was something that was a thing of the past because of the grand rising of female artists, but I realize more and more that what’s done in broad daylight only gets worse when it’s pushed to the shadows. If I’m being honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with it. I’m having a pretty hard time because of my relationships and past with men in power and their ability to make, break, and manipulate women. A lot of people in hip hop sort you into the category of “can I fuck her or fuck her over?” – even in the most entry-level situations. But I’ve been SUPER lucky to be surrounded by men, both artists and producers, who have a more reformed way of thinking and believe in the power that women can bring to the industry. They help me keep my faith whenever I’m met with weirdo behavior.
What do you think needs to change in the music industry?
I think the shift needs to go back to appreciating and investing in raw talent. I remember when an A&R would come to some open mic, see you, develop a demo with you, and give you the opportunity of a lifetime JUST because they believed in your talent. Nowadays talent doesn’t matter and no one wants to invest in it. It’s become more about influence, followers, and social media engagement. Once upon a time, being a one-hit-wonder was embarrassing, but these days it seems as all anyone cares about is going viral and being famous for the moment. If the music industry went back to appreciating raw talent and developing it, then there would be more quality artists that would also have longevity and maintain the dying concept of super-stardom. I think we’re losing superstars and it has a lot to do with the dying appreciation of the art.
Who are your female role models?
It’s cliché, but I look up to my mother and grandmother A LOT. Throughout the years, they have never been afraid of reimagining themselves, no matter who was watching or who they were involved with up until this day! It’s because of them that I have never been afraid to change the course of my “life plan”. It’s because of them that I have always remained so confident in myself in the absence and presence of men.
What advice would you give to other female rappers who are just starting?
You are the only gatekeeper to your success; never feel like you have to play nice to not offend someone you might need later because, trust me, you won’t. We are the future of music, we’ve always been the secret ingredient. OWN IT! And when you feel yourself comparing and picking at the little details that make you different, don’t forget to love on yourself. If they don’t see it, make sure that at the very least, you do!
On Black Lives Matter…
What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement?
It’s a non-negotiable statement. It’s a non-negotiable movement. And it shouldn’t be up to black people to help others understand that. The blatant disregard of black lives in this country is disgusting. We are all to an extent made up of the same basic anatomy, so I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that there are people who believe otherwise and treat black people like they are inanimate objects that happen to live and breathe just like them. I say ‘inanimate’ because these same people treat animals and even PLANTS better than they do living and breathing human beings. They justify their actions by using good/bad rhetoric and fake news stereotypes, but never apply that same social principle on their own kind. It’s sad, and it’s about time things are being done about it. But I need the greater non-black public to understand that this is not a BLACK issue, this is a HUMAN issue. So please, stop turning to your black friends to “help” because this is your problem too.
How has your mental health been affected as an African American woman?
Well, it’s been pretty fucked. I mean, I grew up in an environment where the color of my skin was an afterthought to now being in spaces where the color of my skin determined whether or not I lived or died. It’s scary. I’m always on edge, and want to be at peace, but at the same time, I’m terrified that I could potentially reach a point where I don’t feel anymore. That’s the scary part, feeling yourself become desensitized to the most brutal and vile behaviors being inflicted on you. Being dead on earth when you are still very much so alive.
“I need the greater non-black public to understand that this is not a BLACK issue, this is a HUMAN issue.”
How have social justice movements impacted you as an artist?
It reminded me that there is a much bigger picture than using your platform for music and bants. I’m a Christian woman, and these kinds of shifts and revolutions have been happening for centuries. Each time, God gives people talent to create a platform that aids in leading people into the shift for change. As an artist, looking at these social justice movements and their timing with my decision to go into music, it is a confirmation that my voice isn’t just for entertainment, it is also for spreading the word and promoting peace, love, and light.
2020 was an overwhelming year. The pandemic, the lockdown, the Black Lives Matter Movement… How do you manage to stay calm and productive?
I allow myself to take a break. I don’t go planning a super self-care weekend or anything like that, I just simply choose to do what I believe would make me happy that day, with no regards to anyone else but myself. In those times, I’m able to think more clearly and it helps me remember the ideas and projects that I planned on working on, and because I’m thinking from a less overwhelming state, I am more efficient in making things happen.
What advice would you give to people who feel overwhelmed right now?
Take a day, take two, take three, however many you need. There is nothing on this Earth that you HAVE to do other than wake up and breathe the next day. Remember that. Of course, there may be consequences but you’ll get through it. Your mental health always should come first.