When it comes to female rap, the game is exploding right now with new talent coming out left and right, but one that stands out is Haviah Mighty. Known for her unapologetic lyrics and experimental trap-like beats, the Canadian rapper’s inspirations span widely across genres, from dancehall to flamenco. It is Mighty’s dedication to her craft which has drawn so many supporters in and, ultimately, granted her a JUNO award. From her first album Flower City (2017) to her latest release Room Service (2023), Mighty continuously shows us that hard work and talent pays off. We got the chance to catch up with the rapper to speak about musical inspirations, creative process and what it’s like to be a female rapper in the male-dominated scene. Keep reading to find out all about it.
Hey ! I want to start off by congratulating you on the new release of your music video for Honey Bun/Room Service. Can you tell me a little bit about the concept behind that?
These songs are both inspired by a breakup, but they represent different stages of the breakup. For Room Service, we’re still bargaining to get the love back, hoping things will go back to how they were, and basking in memories… Honey Bun is where we’ve let go, but we’re still in a toxic mindset and not yet healed. The music video depicts these feelings in a non-linear fashion, while highlighting community within queer and Black spaces, and highlighting some familiar creative faces as well – but overall you see a windmill of potential loves that all fall short.
Music is something that has been in your life for probably as long as you can remember, having started singing at the age of 4, rapping at 11 and producing at 15. Was this something you always wanted to make a career out of or was it more of a fun hobby at first?
It started off as a hobby, and naturally manifested into a career. I’m grateful for how music has grown to be the biggest entity in my life.
Your rap style varies from song to song, like on your tune Flamenco (ft. Mala Rodíguez) which had a Spanish sonic influence or Imagine that had a much slower pace in tempo or even Atlantic which has a classic trap vibe to it. How do you go about making different sounds? Is it a thing of whatever comes to you and whatever you’re feeling or do you experiment a lot in the studio with different beats?
I’ve had a lot of exposure to different styles of music over the years, and my expression encompasses many of them. So yeah, I think it’s a lot of things – the production I’m making or have received, the mood I’m in, the energy I want to portray, etc. I love that with music, the forms of output are endless, from rap to song to poetry to composition. I also love to experiment. If it feels right, I’m going for it!
Your latest album Stock Exchange (2021) gave us more experimentation in production, especially in terms of vocals. Is this something we could be seeing more from you in the future?
Absolutely, yes – we were just getting started with more new sounds on Stock Exchange – the next project is even more vast, expansive, and a departure from where we’ve already gone. Vocally, and also production wise; I think I’m making the biggest shifts in that world right now. I’m having fun with it.
Tell me about your creative process. Do you drop anything you’re doing at the moment to write down lyrics or record a beat?
I use the voice notes feature on my phone a lot. If a melody or rhythmic pattern comes to me, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and hum it into my phone. Same with lyrics, a flow pattern, whatever. If I’m intentionally creating, I just try to make room and space for it. I usually have an idea of what I want to leave the room with, and whether that actually happens is up in the air. Sometimes the creative process is being led by a force and you just follow the energy… but we always get where we want in the end.
Female rappers certainly don’t have it easy as hip-hop is a very male-dominated field, with more often than not songs containing misogynistic lyrics. How do you go about navigating that kind of hardship in your career?
I just try to be realistic. I recognize the setbacks and I offset it by working harder to let the authenticity shine through. I understand society’s standards in this realm, and work to shift that bar so we are introducing new standards and removing meaningless restrictions on art because of small-minded or bigoted thinking. Most of all, I just promote my ideas with sick beats. And generally, my ideas aren’t in full alignment with the usual mindset in this male-dominated field – so any stage is an opportunity for change and impact.
Speaking of female rappers, who would you say are your top 3 role models or inspirations in the game? And who are 3 up and coming female rappers you would want to give a shout out to?
Inspirations… Lauryn Hill, Eve and Missy Elliot. Nicki Minaj is up there too. Up and coming… Doechi, Flo Milli, Latto. There are many others too. I’m excited to see so many female artists starting to dominate in the rap scene!
You’ve definitely carved out a style for yourself, often wearing sportswear inspired pieces, lots of graphics and always wearing a chain. Where do you get your style inspiration from? Does it come quite naturally to you or do you have people you look up to?
I studied myself to understand my style. My brain thinks in audio, not visual, so I didn’t give it as much thought growing up. But more recently, my style has been more of a reflection of the art, and my brain has stopped seeing the divide between audio and visual and is starting to see them as one. So I guess, because of that, my style has begun to sell who Haviah Mighty is before you even hear a song.
With a brand new single and music video having already been released this year, what more can we expect from you this year? Anything exciting in the works?
Lots of exciting things in the works! I’m doing some background production for a few cool things, as well as voice acting a little bit. So people will probably start to hear my voice in a couple of little commercials, and feel my production footprint without knowing it’s me. I’m also deep in the studio, working on the next release… hoping to drop a body of work before the summer for the streets! And actively locking in performance plans for the spring and summer too. Overall, 2023 is about to be grand!
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