In 2010, Akiya Alexander was helping a friend out with recording his rap for him. She wasn’t a big part of his process, but she wanted to help out as much as she could. While she was recording, she became interested in doing some recordings for herself. “I wanted to do the same thing he was doing, making music that I cared about,” she says. She had always been interested in hip hop, and being able to actually make songs seemed like a wonderful idea. This was the birth of Kilo of Bloodline, Alexander’s performance name, now nominated as one of the best female rappers in Madison.
This year, she joins two other female artists, Broadway and Domi Lee, as finalists for Female Rap Artist of the Year in the Madison Hip Hop Awards (MHHA), a category that’s been missing from the annual awards show for several years.
The winner of Female Rap Artist of the Year, along with more than a dozen other award winners, will be announced at the MHHA show on Saturday, November 12 at the Barrymore Theater. Tickets are available now or at the door, and the show will also stream live (possibly with some adult language) at http://hinckleyproductions.com/mhha/.
Alexander says she feels honored for the nomination, and is happy that female artists were up and coming. She learned about the awards at a different event, the music business conference Level Up Music Industry, planned and produced by the Urban Community Arts Network — which also produced the MHHA.
Another of the artists, Broadway Muse — or just Broadway said that “the nomination means a lot to her, because it means people are listening and engaging with her music.” She has always been into hip hop, and when she got into college, she became part of the sixth cohort of First Wave, a fine arts scholarship program at UW-Madison. This opened up a new platform for performing for her to perform even more, and she got wind of the Madison Hip Hop Awards from a friend around two years ago.
Both artists know how hard it is for females to be heard in such a male-dominated area. “It is very hard to have to grab attention,” says Alexander. The nomination for a MHHA, she says, “proved that not only men could be in this industry.” She draws her inspiration from the conscious rap music she listens to, and writes songs that send the same messages. “I just want to tell my story” she said.
As for Broadway, she knows the struggles of balancing work and school. As a UW student graduating this December, she has to find harmony between writing and producing songs, and completing her schoolwork. With her music, she drew inspiration from older style lyricism, hip hop, and beats often created by refugees. She also believes there is a certain need to prove something when you are a female.
“It’s always hard to be a female in anything,” she says, especially when other people define you. Because of this, she firmly believes that she defines herself, and she can accomplish anything. “The biggest thing about being a woman is having a kind of fierceness, a longing to be given a chance,” she says.
To any young artists, Broadway would say firstly, you must know who you are, and not let anyone fool you. She urges people to do what makes them happy. She adds that “our body is a movement, and music is her tool for advancement.” She also mentions that the biggest thing in music is being true to yourself. Alexander asserted that people must “follow your dreams, never give up, and to give it your all.” She said that it was always important to push forward because you would always have both critics and supporters.
Six years ago, Akiya Alexander had no way to know she’d be up for an award as a rapper. To any young female artists, these ladies are proof that there is room for more females in the rap music industry.