Gigi LaMayne on the hip-hop industry: ‘People are still going to compare me according to a gender’

Gigi LaMayne says things will never progress if inclusiveness is left out of the picture.
Gigi LaMayne says things will never progress if inclusiveness is left out of the picture.
Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images

Amidst all the scary things happening to women in South Africa, it’s always good to hear about women lifting others up and shedding light, once again, on issues that aren’t changing.

In an open mic interview from the comfort of her home, local rapper Gigi LaMayne spoke to SA Hip Hop Daily. “I’m excited about this ’cos I haven’t been online for a while. We get to talk about really cool things – lots of up-and-coming projects,” she said.

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The rapper spoke about the perks of being an independent artist and how much she’s making the most of lockdown. “I’ve gotten up to so much. Initially I wanted to learn how to record myself and I’ve managed to do that,” she shared. “I’m trying to be this powerhouse that can do a lot of stuff on her own.”

The rapper spoke about The Gigi Gang Show, which had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Gigi made headlines by becoming the first female South African hip-hop artist to host a one-woman show.

“The biggest challenge for me was making sure the show still happens. I can’t really tell people what format it’s going to be in or what to expect. It features female hip-hop artists, a lot of girls – friends of hip-hop and people who have collaborated with hip-hop artists. But also male hip-hop artists,” the rapper said about her plans for the show this year.

The interview then delved into the way people view hip-hop and the things those within the industry do to perpetuate that view.

“I hate the fact that with hip-hop as the narrative, it’s always a bad thing. Can people stop asking us who’s the baddest female artist? Can people start giving us our props and agree with us that there are female hip-hop artists that are doing better than the male artists in this country?

“It’s always about not looking on point and never about consistency. There are female rappers that have managed to stay mainstream. Let’s speak about female rappers who are becoming a focal point.” 

She said she’s tired of the conversations surrounding what female rappers wear and their downfalls that are unrelated to their music. She said things will never progress if inclusiveness is left out of the picture.

“The word ‘female’ is the biggest problem. They now categories you outside of the main thing,” Jabu from SA Hip Hop Daily said.

Gigi agreed. “I don’t want to fight against a female artist because my capabilities are not gender-binary. People are still going to compare me according to a gender. I can take on your favourite male rapper in a song.”

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The interviewer prompted Gigi to speak about what’s currently going on in the country. She highlighted her track Koze Kube Nini, which was released last year. It deals with the issue of gender-based violence that continues to be a huge problem in South Africa. “If you’re going to objectify a woman – abuse her online, refuse her the power that you give to male artists – gender-based violence is not going anywhere. Because it happens on a systematic level; it’s always there. Some men don’t even know they’re being abusive,” the rapper said.

Gigi continued to speak about the impact she hopes to have in the industry and the collaborations she’s had with artists like Locnville and American rapper Bri Biase.  

The rapper also collaborated with Mbongeni Ngema on the remake of Freedom is Coming Tomorrow, a song from the much-loved Sarafina soundtrack. “I’m repping such a minority already and I need to pull up,” she said, speaking about how she’s one of two female artists featured on the track.

Gigi said she was shocked when the legendary songwriter asked her to work on the song as she used to listen to him growing up. “We put in a lot of work with that song and it’s doing really well,” she said while thanking everyone who worked on the project.

Watch the full interview below: