Making a Case for Bad Bitches

My name is Ekelle, I’m a bold woman, I’m confident, I’m motivated, open minded and I speak my truth - I owe all of these things to music.

I didn’t grow up shy, I was raised by a single mother who taught me to speak up for myself and that I could have what I wanted if I worked for it, she also taught me that it’s important to have fun. I’ve always had an interest in the entertainment world, but wasn’t sure how I’d get my foot in the door. I liked drama class, but wasn’t so crazy about the idea of acting, I was funny but didn’t want to be a comedian and I loved music, but I couldn’t sing like Whitney Houston. I would spend my recesses with my friends writing songs and performing in our playground “band”, I tried to join the choir but freaked out when my mom heard me practicing at home. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to look bad - if I’m gonna do something I have to do it right.

Where It All Started

That was all back in elementary school, as I wandered through life and slowly began to figure the world out, I thought why not try music? By this point, I had a favorite song for every occasion and couldn’t really go a day without hearing music, no matter the genre. I had graduated from university and decided that now was as good a time as any to start (I also hated every ‘normal’ job I had). But how was I going to start? I had watched enough MTV diary specials to know that I needed a song, a music video, to go to some parties, get on the radio, then boom! The only boom I got was an explosion of hard work, doors being slammed in my face, not quite knowing who to turn to and really having to teach myself the business.


Be Relentless

I was relentless in my pursuit for opportunities, I had to hone my email skills to sound professional, I had to go to open mics that didn’t even really do hip hop, I had to go to studios in the middle of nowhere, I had to get ripped off and scammed. I had to endure so much to finally get to a place where I’m confident in my skills and know my way around the industry, well for my level at least. In all my mishappenings, joys and disappointments I had to go through them alone. I had no one to show me the way and I still don’t. I was lucky to meet other female musicians and grow along with them and feel encouraged in my storytelling by witnessing theirs. I’ve made an awesome community for myself in meeting other strong women, but I had to become one to know one and really level up to show others my potential.


The Obstacles Of Being A Woman In The Music Industry

We know that the music industry is tough, but it’s even tougher for a woman. What may seem like an amazing opportunity can be a predator waiting to lure you in and exploit you. Promises will be made with the implication that you’re going to pay for them in sex. You have to be strong enough to fight your way out of those situations and lean on your community of bad bitches to avoid them. It’s through these relationships with other female entrepreneurs that you’ll be able to suss out a bad situation and find a way to retaliate, my way was making a documentary about the sexual harassment that we women face in the industry (coming this summer!). In Toronto, where I’m from there are many music incubator programs where talent can be developed, however, most if not all are male-lead. Men aren’t always the single problem, but how can they help you develop in a male-dominated industry when they don’t know your struggle and your pain? When they tell you that you’re imagining things when someone undresses you with their eyes? When they tell you to expect harassment because your lyrics are sex-positive? When they know their colleagues are derogatory, but they won’t intervene? It’s reported that more than 3 out of 4 women have been sexually harassed in a verbal way (npr.org, 2018) that includes catcalling, unwanted sexual comments and whistles. 66% of women have been sexually harassed in public spaces (npr.org, 2018), this included verbal as well as physical actions. This is why it’s important for women in hip hop to unite!


Women Uniting Women

Most of us have not had easy journeys and we can really help each other out. We need to understand that other women are not our competition. We can achieve so much more by working together. Take for example Missy Elliot, she had it hard getting to the top in a time where the industry was a little more rigid, but she did it. Instead of keeping all of her knowledge to herself like society would tell one to do she decided to share her talent and know-how with upcoming notable talents like Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Ciara and so many more. As artists of a generation where everyone is screaming for female empowerment, but most are doing it for the clout we have to protect each other. Female artists need to be constantly talking about this if you know someone who is a danger to the community you need to tell someone. If you have an interview where you’re asked about to talk about your hardships, name ALL of them. It may seem scary at first, but in sharing your story of hardship you’re helping a young woman out there realize that it’s not just her and that she doesn’t have to quit music or her life.

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