HC Exclusive: Interview with Female Rapper, Sirah

While growing up in the Bronx, New York I was deeply influenced by urban culture, a culture which has cemented itself inside my heart. At that point of time in my life I found rock n’ roll to be ridiculous and allowed rap music to act as my scripture. Kids weren’t necessarily shouting that it “Smells Like Teen Spirit” while we played kickball on the black top playground outside of our overcrowded school. Instead, we growled like DMX and decided to “Jump Around” like the House of Pain. 

I remember dreaming vividly about becoming a famous rapper (named “Lil AD”) and all day I’d write rhymes about trivial things, such as dinnertime, “The Amanda Show” or my sweet Fubu kicks (don’t pretend you didn’t own/want a pair). In fourth grade, I even joined a “gang” named, “Wolf Pack” with my then beautiful crush, Christian. I felt that my participation in this “gang;” consisting of wearing grey bandanas to P.S. 14 everyday, would earn me both street cred and a boyfriend. The plan, unfortunately, fell short on both accounts and my dreams of becoming a rapper were laid to rest by my three, older male cousins. Holding back tears from laughter, they cackled, “When have you ever seen a white girl rap?”  In the 1990s white men were barely rapping, so as much as I hated to admit it at the time, they were right.

The music industry has obviously changed dramatically in the past ten years. It is constantly being revolutionized by the creativity of new artists. Presently, the idea of becoming a white, female rapper is less of a pipe dream and more of a possibility (we’ve all met Kreayshawn and the “White Girl Mob” this summer). Recently, while surfing the web I came across a video by the artist, Sirah, on YouTube.  Sirah, also a white, female rapper was tough and I was instantly drawn to her lyrics, beat and style.  I then proceeded to download her music off of iTunes, blown away by her talent and skill.  Sirah, unlike myself, hadn’t abandoned her dreams during prior years. She has worked long and hard and she exemplifies that being a certain skin color or gender shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love. In an effort to learn more, I contacted Sirah and she was kind enough to grant Her Campus an exclusive interview.

Sirah (pronounced “Sigh-rah”), like many of us at Binghamton University, grew up in New York City. Initially, she had hoped to become a singer but after the honest critique of her singing voice from her mother, she realized that singing wasn’t in the cards. In 1998, rapper Big Pun, released his album “Capital Punishment,” which served as a turning point for young Sirah, “Big Pun's Capital Punishment changed my life, something clicked for me and I thought ‘I'm also not a player but I just crush a lot.’ Then I realized I wasn't sure what crushing was," Sirah explained jokingly. It was then that Sirah realized rapping was more fitting.  Yet, by no means did Sirah assume that a career in this field would be easy or that it would catapult her into instant stardom, “I have no idea what would make anyone want to actually become a rapper. It's a very impractical life goal,” Sirah said. “Thank god I grew up without goals."

By the tender age of twelve, Sirah had begun battling, while most of us were probably too preoccupied with Totinos Pizza Rolls and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She would conduct her battles while “drunken at bars and house parties,” joking that her venues and actions were “very professional.” At first, her dream of becoming a rapper was taken lightly. “I think it took awhile for everyone else to take me seriously,” said Sirah, “I don't blame them, I try not to take me too seriously either, plus it's an odd career choice,” she said.  However, Sirah’s family, unlike mine, had not laughed in her face at the thought of becoming a white, female rapper, and she was met with unrelenting support from both her Grandmother and Mother.

As Sirah grew older, her dedication evolved and she decided to move out west. Like plenty before her, she moved in what seems like the pursuit of finding “gold."  However in her case, “gold” is taken figuratively, serving as a metaphor for finding her own version of the “American Dream." Believing in the principle of staying true to yourself is one of the reasons that Sirah remains unsigned. A few years ago, she had been working with a label but chose to go her separate way once the notion of being signed represented a threat to both her artistic and moral integrity.

“They told me I needed to lose weight, my "story" wasn't sad enough, I needed other people to write my words for me etc. I wasn't having it, and I'm still not. I wear what I want, eat what I want, say what I want and the list goes on and on,” said Sirah. 

The future of this LA artist remains bright. Her older material, “God’s Grace” and “Clean Windows Dirty Floors” (available for download on iTunes) are raw, rhythmic, and dark, while her latest single, “Double Yellow Lines” is fun, quirky, and guaranteed to have you scissor kicking alone in your room (yeah, that’s how I dance). It’s evident that Sirah’s style has grown with experience and her music has even caught the attention of other great artists. In 2010, one of the king’s of dubstep, Skrillex, featured her voice and lyrics in his song, “Weekends."  Since “Weekends,” Sirah and Skrillex have collaborated twice more; creating, “Drop It Hard” and “Bangarang." Along with Skrillex, Sirah is also currently working with the electrical duo, 3OH!3 and Sirah the solo artist, still has more tricks up her sleeve. She told Her Campus, “You can expect an awesome EP/ possible LP called "Trick'd." I'm also writing with some awesome people right now so we'll see what comes of it. Basically you can expect new music, new music videos and shows in your hometown."

Overall, one of the most redeeming qualities about Sirah is her down-to-earth nature. A young artist who remains humble, preferring intimate shows and taking time out of her day in order to respond to fans via Twitter. The hype and frenzy associated with her new hometown, Los Angeles remains visibly absent.  Sirah doesn’t feel the need to run to Neiman Marcus or some fancy brand named store for some new threads.  She manufactures her own fashion, saying, "I'm so hood. I make a lot of my own clothes, and thrift shop. One of my favorite places to thrift is Florida, which is terrible and morbid, but I just love cute old lady swag. I feel like fashion is an extension of my mood/art. Its super strange cause I used to make and wear my own clothes as a kid because we were really poor, I got tortured by kids. Now everyone thinks I'm a fashionista or a hipster. I'm just a poor kid who entertains herself with netflix and fabric."

In the final analysis, it’s no secret that Sirah One is an artist to keep your eye on. Her creativity, drive, and passion are inspiring and she is more than just a musician; she is a poet, she is an artist. Her music will make you think, dance, and most importantly listen. So do yourself a favor and check out Sirah music.  Now!
 
For more on Sirah One check out “Double Yellow Lines” on YouTube, go to sirahone.com or find Sirah on Twitter @SirahOne.