In a matter of months, Vancouver-born rapper Tommy Genesis has emerged as one of hip-hop’s most persuasive female forces. Raised by a South Indian father and Scandinavian mother, her coquettish looks belie the sophistication of her melodic beats and clever lyrics, which tackle everything from religion to sexual freedom and gender. Tommy’s career kicked off after Atlanta-based artist, Father, heard her music on Soundcloud and offered for her to join his Awful Records collective in 2015. The duo worked together on her debut album, World Vision, which dropped last July and Tommy is currently in the studio fine-tuning the details to its followup record, World Vision 2. Since her first release, she’s won the respect of the music and fashion industries alike, both of which admire her non-conformist attitude and her songs which speak to the coolness of their maker. For our Fall collections story, we asked Tommy to dress up in some of her favorite looks from Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, and Raf Simons, while we got a quick-fire lowdown on how she’s begun to build a rap legacy:
What does your name mean?
“If I’m being honest, I don’t really know why I chose the name. My parents called me Genesis after the first book in the Bible and I chose Tommy because it kind of soothed that heavy religious connotation.”
What was your relationship with music growing up?
“I was always around it in nonsecular ways—and then I got really into punk. I used to live at this punk house in Canada that had shows in the basement and the music was so constant that I never slept. But I wasn’t ever punk in the eyes of the punks, I think they saw me like I was like an angel who had taken off her wings to play with satan’s kids for the day. Then that phase went and I thought ‘I’m no Rihanna, but let’s talk through my angst melodically.’”
How would you describe your music?
“My songs are like a phantom limb you’ve cut off, but can still feel. Or like an orphan that’s been adopted by a rich family, a sci-fi structure in the rain that collects water infinitely, or a rainbow in a sweaty palm that tastes exactly like you thought it would if you lick it.”
What’s your song writing process?
“It’s really different every single time and I feel like I give a different answer to this question every single time. Basically, if I can sit still for 10 minutes I get into the process of writing a song and you can’t shake me out of making it.”
What are you currently working on?
“Right now I’m working on World Vision 2 and 3. I still don’t feel fully discovered because I’m just starting to feel comfortable with the music that I’m making. I have a psychological battle between the music I make and the music that I want to make, in the way that there’s always a glitch between how you perceive yourself and how the public paints you. But things really started to pick up speed after I dropped my first album, so I’m almost ready to drop WV2.”
Have you encountered any obstacles as a woman in a predominantly male hip-hop world?
“I feel extremely detached from the male gaze, so if there’s an obstacle out there I don’t notice him or if I’ve ever met him, I don’t remember him. People can look and talk, but that doesn’t mean I have to watch them while they watch me.”
If people only listen to one of your songs which one should it be and why?
“OG Shepherd. It’s a hidden track on my album and I just really like it.”
What message do you hope that your music sends?
“Love yourself. In your insecurities, in your intricate flaws, in our poor human design. Love yourself now or never because 100 years only lasts 100 years. Love can kill you or make you stronger, but regardless of what happens this is your world and your time, so be you.”
Who or what inspires you?
“Love and hate inspires my life’s work. Being hurt and hurting others—even if unconsciously done. The bipolar effect of life.”
What role does fashion play in your music?
“I don’t believe in a set standard of beauty. What you wear doesn’t determine who you are on the inside, and I don’t believe that fashion can ignite a genre, an ideology, or a movement. I think that fashion recreates artifacts of past movements and attempts to brand the future. Fashion can masquerade as art, but it is not art on it’s own, it needs context to become art. Having said that, what is art? Because if art is subjective, then so is fashion.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“It’s hard to say, but I’d like to be in a position where I can give back. I’m lucky to come from a country like Canada where healthcare and education are made fairly accessible, but that’s not the reality for so many boys and girls around the world. Education contests poverty, racism, sexism, and religious differences, so I believe it should be free. I just hope that me and my music become a part of something bigger than myself.”
Fashion Ron Hartleben, Hair Shinya Nakagawa, Makeup Tracy Alfajora
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createdAt:Thu, 27 Apr 2017 21:03:28 +0000