Very rarely in today’s world of microwaveable, 30-seconds-to-make music industry, do you come across an artist who is actually true to themselves and not a gimmick being shoved down our throats. Siya, the Brooklyn-bred femcee who recently made a name for herself on the Atlanta music scene between 2006 and 2009 and then made her way to LA, is one of the rare cases where an artist not only stays true but makes a lane for themselves by doing so.
Siya caught the attention of R&B crooner, Tank, where he took her under his wing at his Soundbase Ent imprint. She recently released her very well-recieved D.Y.K.E. (Damn You Killin’ Em) mixtape back in November and her buzz has continued to grow since then. But unlike so many cocky artists of today, Siya stays humble and admits that she has gotten as far as she has today not only from the help of Tank, but also from people such as her manager, Kei Henderson and Two-9 DJ, DJ Osh Kosh who presented D.Y.K.E.. Hip Hop Enquirer got the chance to chop it up with Siya about everything from what influences her as an artist to what we can expect from her in 2013. Check out interview with Siya below!
HHE: For those who haven’t heard of you yet, who is Siya and how would you describe your music?
Siya: Well first and foremost, I am from Brooklyn. Bedstuy. I am a female emcee who has not changed their image due to this industry. That’s one I’m mostly known for, sticking to my guns. That’s why my fans and people who do follow me are so down and loyal.
HHE: We know that you grew up in Brooklyn, but also had family in Cali. So growing up kinda bi-coastal in the 90’s, how do you think those two different sides of hip hop influenced you as an artist today?
Siya: Honestly, I can’t say that it really has because I’ve been Brooklyn since I was a kid. I don’t really know Cali,it’s not my stomping ground. I was in Brooklyn since I was 6. The only thing I remember of Cali is the negative things from my childhood. I mean it has a lot do with my music and my career, but I don’t think I’ve benefited as far as me being born in Cali. I’ve benefited more from growing up in Brooklyn and the style of my Grandmother because that’s me.
HHE: Gotcha, so who were some of the NY influences that have molded your sound today, who were you listening to growing up?
Siya: Growing up it wasn’t really hip hop music. The only hip hop heads I listened to when I was younger was Jay Z and Biggie. But you know, I grew up with my grandmother so everything was old school. You know, the Luthers the Teddy Pendergrasses. The older cats. When I was with my Aunts and Uncles it was more of the R&B generation. Funny thing is, I’m signed to Tank now but I grew up hearing the Aaliyah who is a huge influence in my life. So yeah it wasn’t really hip hop. I’ve always had a love for hip hop though. I have people that as I got older I definitely did my research and now they have a huge influence on my career. But growing up, it wasn’t in my household like that.
HHE: When people listen to your music and just the way you carry yourself, it’s pretty clear that you don’t hold back when it comes to expressing yourself. Say five years from now your career is on like a Nicki Minaj level, how important is it to you to stay true and never hold back as far as music goes ?
Siya: Now and forever, it’s gonna be extremely important to me to never let this industry change me. It couldn’t, even if they signed the hugest check they could possibly give an artist, it wouldn’t work. It’s just not how I was raised. And to be loyal to myself, I have thousands of fans who look up to me for NOT giving in to what this industry wants from me. So that means a lot to me, I wouldn’t change that for the world. So even later on down the line when I do make it up to where Nicki is at and surpass that, I still wouldn’t change.
HHE: In a perfect world, how would you want your career to turn out? Would you eventually want to go major and be on all the radio stations and networks, or be more of a Dom Kennedy and have a huge name/fanbase as an indie artist?
Right now, this day and age, I would prefer to stay independent. But staying independent means you need money. You need investors. You need some type of big machine behind you. Usually that’s why a lot of indie artists end up going major because major has that force that we can’t really find, you know. Unless I stumble upon some filthy rich billionaire oil dude and he decides to take a chance on my little ass, you know what I mean. Reality is, I may one day have to turn to a major. But if it was gonna be major, personally it would be Roc Nation or OVO or even MMG.
HHE: All three of those are good looks. Especially OVO. I’m really excited to see what they’re gonna do.
Oh yeah, it’s all about finding someone in the industry who’s not afraid to take a risk on a female artist such as myself. But honestly I feel like, actually I know, I have a lot to bring to the table as an artist and with my movement, and being first of my kind to really do what I’m doing. So we’ll see.
HHE: What’s been the response from your latest D.Y.K.E. mixtape vs. the response you got from your 2011 mixtape, Elevator Dreams?
Siya: D.Y.K.E. was an experiment. D.Y.K.E. was me trying to step outside of the norm of my kind of music that I create. Versus Elevator Dreams, that was me that everybody expected. Me being on my hard, gritty shit. My straight to the point shit. With D.Y.K.E., I had those club joints on there, I had stuff that people could relate to. Something for the dudeS, something for the women. I think my fans were very receptive and even the blogs and labels that I’ve been to thus far. Everybody’s rockin’ with it, but it doesn’t stop there just because I dropped a mixtape. I still plan to release new content. I might even double up and re-release the cd and throw like five or six new joints on there and make it like 30 even. The CD already has 22 on there. Just to do something different. I put out a mixtape with album material and not a lot of artists are doing that.
HHE: What has it been like working with Tank and SoundBase Ent.?
Siya: Working with Tank has been the greatest opportunity I think I’ve ever had in my career because he is someone that I’ve looked up to in the past. Knowing that he worked so closely with Aaliyah and Missy and Timbaland and those are people I’ve also looked up to. You know, Missy is a huge staple in the industry and her whole style, her swag. For him to go from working with them so closely, to working with me and saying ‘let’s try something different’ – it only can go up. So working with him, it’s been great. He believes in me and he’s down to let me do what I want, because he gets it. There’s no flaws in what he sees in me.
I’m content. I’m content with the producers I’ve been working with. Black Metaphor, he’s been riding with me since I was out in Atlanta in 08. Young talented dude, he’s making a huge comeup right now. And Composer, he’s running the streets, working with Babyface, Beyonce, all that. And The Olympicks, I been working with them since 06, 07. They had their whole run with MMG and YMCMB. These are just great talented men who believe in me as an artist, who honestly don’t have to give me shit. But they give me all types of records because they wanna see it go where it should go. I actually got a track yesterday from Justice League. They sent over a huge folder to Tank, so I had my choice in that. So hopefully we can make that work how we want it to work. We’re gonna try to focus on getting some features done. I’m really interested in collabing with Kendrick Lamar. Just getting back to that real hip hop, where it should’ve never left.
HHE: On D.Y.K.E. you actually touch on your sexuality and what it was like coming out to your family and friends. How important was it for you to rep that part of your life early on in your career instead of waiting like Frank Ocean for example?
Siya: The difference with me is, I never gave a fuck. If you didn’t raise me, put food in my mouth, you can’t tell me not to be who I really am and not to speak freely. And my grandmother she was always a very strong-willed woman who was always like ‘be you, fuck what everybody say, fuck what everybody else think’. So honestly, after I came out to her when I was younger, you really couldn’t tell me shit then, because my grandmother is the only one that has ever counted, till the day I die. I just couldn’t see myself getting into the game and not being true to who I am from jump.
HHE: Speaking of projects from last year, who were some of the artists/albums that you were really feeling in 2012?
Kendrick, of course Kendrick. I fooled with a few joints on Frank’s album. Of course, Tank’s album. His album was phenomenal, real R&B. Was Game’s album, that was end of the year, right? I fooled with his tape. T. I. was at the end of the year as well. That’s the homie, he’s been showing me love as well. His album was on point. Honestly, a bunch of underground cats. Drake’s album. Gotta say Drake Drake’s album did it for me [laughs].
HHE: Who were some of the underground artists you were listening to.
I gotta say I was fooling with The Weeknd. I enjoy the Weeknd because he’s so melodic and I’m a huge fun of melodic songs and just being such a creative cat. Who else? Schoolboy Q. Love that ratchet nigga. And of course my homies Two 9, they had a huge influence on me. My homeboy Key and my homeboy Curtis. As far as female emcees, I can’t really say. I’ve heard some things from Angel Haze, I fool with her flow. Of course she beefing with Azealia Banks, but that’s neither here nor there. That shit aint got nothing to do with me. But it’s some joints from Azealia’s mixtape that I fuck with, her being creative as well. Anything that female mc’s do, I’m all for it. Aint’ no shade nowhere. Shit, it’s so much room in this game for female mc’s, that it ain’t no point. But not everybody thinks like that.
HHE: No, not at all but how do you feel about the whole Angel Haze/Azealia Banks beef?
Siya: Anybody in the public eye can’t really have an opinion on the situation, because who knows how far back that goes? That could be some real personal shit, we’ll never know that. So I can’t really voice my opinion on that, all I can say is fuck the bullshit, let’s get this money. That’s it. That’s all I really can say. I would love to see them go further with their careers. I would love to see Missy make a comeback, Eve just had something out on Worldstar. The time is perfect. It’s 2013, top of the quarter, let’s get it.
HHE: What can we look forward to from Siya in 2013?
Siya: Greatness. More music. Getting back to the roots of pure hip hop that I dabbled in growing up. Visuals. All my videos are shot by my director Mike Ho. We’re really about to start flooding the internet again like we did last year. We just put out two flashy videos. It was cool, it was fun, it was different, but now I just want to get back to shooting these short films how we were doing it last year. Get these shows popping, possibly a tour. I really can’t say, I’m just praying on everything and trying to manifest it. Wherever God takes me, that’s where I’m gonna go.
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