DJ(S): Janelle Sopko // Becca Tobing
Genre: Hip Hop
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY // Portland, Oregon
Tell me a little bit about your show.
Janelle: So, basically, our theme to start out with was “Female Rappers from NY”, specifically. We picked New York because, obviously, there’s a lot of rap that comes out of there, and I knew lots of rappers already, like Jungle Pussy, Princess Nokia, who are both based out of New York. And then we wanted to focus specifically on women of color as well, which is important, because a lot of the time hip hop is really run by men, and women of color often have their voices heard even less, so that was also important to us, because we wanted to get that out there, and start talking about that kind of thing.
Becca: Yeah, we felt female voices were underrepresented in hip hop, and we felt that the things women rap about are a lot different from what men cover. So, a lot of the rappers we play cover topics ranging from gender presentation, to gender identity, and challenging femininity.
Janelle: Yeah, female sexuality is a big thing, these songs can be very sexually aggressive, but it’s amazing, because across the board that’s not something that’s talked a lot about as well.
Since hip hop is such a male-dominated genre, what got you into it?
Janelle: To be honest, I didn’t think I was gonna come here and have a show, and I was dragged to the [KUPS DJ Interest] meeting by someone else. And I was like, oh this is pretty cool. And I didn’t think I was gonna have a hip hop show, as hip hop and rap is not the genre that I listened to the most before this. But, I had specifically been into Jungle Pussy for a long time, and so I had the basis of that, and obviously growing up in New York it’s very liberal, and people pride themselves on alternative-ness as well, so it just kinda found its way through. Then, when I came here and started this show, it just blew my mind, and I got much more into it, since we had to do a lot more research and stuff like that.
Becca: Yeah, I listened to quite a bit of hip hop before, probably because of my brother. A lot of the hip hop I listened to was men, I can barely think of one artist, who wasn’t Nicki Minaj, that I knew was a woman in hip hop who had presence. Yeah, so I think this show that we do was originally kinda Janelle’s, and I was pretty apprehensive, because I didn’t know a lot about Hip Hop as a genre, but it was a really fun way to get to know more about the genre.
What kind of artists do you play?
Becca: We play a lot of Princess Nokia and Jungle Pussy, and Njena Reddd Foxxx. We also find a lot of Soundcloud female rappers who aren’t super big yet.
Janelle: Dai Burger is someone we’ve been playing a bunch lately.
Becca: Tink, Noname..
Janelle: Sometimes we play some more old-school stuff, we always play some Lil’ Kim.
Becca: DonMonique, Lauryn Hill, Remy Ma…
Janelle: Ari Lennox, we love her and play her a bunch.
Becca: There’s a couple users on soundcloud who also take their [female rapper’s] music and distort it, chop it up, and we play their versions of these songs as well.
Are there any artists that really speak to you?
Becca: Yeah there’s this one artist who raps a lot about the intersections of being black and latina.
Janelle: Nitty Scott!
Becca: Yeah! Nitty Scott is a good example of what I really like about a lot of female rappers we play. She covers a lot of social justice related issues in a really unapologetic way. So she has a lot of songs that are also really historical, and it has a very strong and clear message. She has this one song about Sarah Baartman, who was a woman who was enslaved and displayed in sideshows due to her body shape, and just, like, poked and prodded, and it’s a symbol of how black women are treated to this day. She also has a song called “La Diaspora”, which is about the African diaspora, and her take on it being Latina and black. It’s just so powerful, and so needed right now, the conversation of intersectionality, and not just women in rap, but black women in rap, black, latina women in rap, queer, black women in rap. And so it’s like, so intersectional, and very awesome.
Janelle: Yeah – I think, for me Jungle Pussy is one of my favorite artists and I maybe discovered her like Junior year of high school, or something. Anyways, the way she just approaches female sexuality is just so unapologetic and so awesome, and It’s something that I’ve just never heard before. She’s so outright about everything, it’s explicit, but its amazing. A lot of women in the media that are famous are being sexualized, and so she talks about what it’s like to be popular because you’ve been sexualised by men, and what it means to take back that sexuality and reclaim it in some way. And it’s not something that is easily definable, but she is one of those people who can be like “I’m a sexual person and this is who I am”, yet she isn’t famous because she is being sexualised. I really love her and I think that it’s really difficult to figure out and speak about that kind of thing, and it’s really awesome that she can do that so well.
Becca: Yeah, their music can be sexual, but it’s message isn’t.
What do you like about being a KUPS DJ?
Becca: Well, before our shows we search pretty deep into soundcloud, and it’s really fun to look into the artists, and look into the meanings behind their music, and their image. Also, It’s been really fun to learn how to mix.
Janelle: We’ve been learning, slowly, but It’s fun to go into the studio and just mess around for a while. Yeah there’s just this thing we do now, from 5-9 on Tuesdays, where we sit around and search for music, and that’s super fun. It’s just good to be in the studio..
Becca: .. And you get more into music, and learn more about at is we are learning how to mix and stuff, and that’s really fun.
It was super great to talk to Janelle and Becca and learn a little bit about the NYC femme Hip Hop scene! If you want to listen to their show, NYShe is on Tuesdays from 11-12pm!
(Interview by Liv Sage, Social Media Director)