Underground DIVA of the Week – Gangalee
As a young child Gangalee was drawn towards music yet did not always dream that she would be an emcee. She stayed true to herself and followed her heart. Now that she is an emcee she is doing the same in the music that she makes. She’s not cow towing to what’s hot for the moment or gimmicks to make her relevant in this time. Instead she is staying true to herself and making music that speaks to more than the superficial. In doing so she is hoping to build a long-lasting career as an emcee and establish a relevance that spans the test of time. Individuality was once something emcees strived for yet has become out of place in today’s hip hop scene. It is Gangalee’s individuality that brings us to feature her as an Underground DIVA of the Week. Her music is uniquely hers and she’s created her own niche which you can only find in her. Everyone tries to define a female emcee to determine which box she fits in. Gangalee does not fit into a box but I suggest you give her music a listen and define it for yourself.
HHD (THEHIPHOPDIVA): As a child growing up what did you want to be? Did you always want to be an emcee?
GL (GANGALEE): Growing up I always wanted to do music. I cannot say I really wanted to be a MC at first, but I grew into one after writing poetry. Then I began to notice women were not equally being represented in the genre of HIPHOP so I decided that is where I wanted to be.
HHD: When did it all begin (the rhyming)? What was the turning point that made you decide to build a career around it?
GL: I began at 13. DJ DooWop gave me my first shot on his mixtapes. After doing a show in New Jersey with DooWop and the bounce squad at the age of 13 I decided this is what I wanted to do.
HHD: Do you feel like your music fits in with the hip hop music of today?
GL: That’s a tough question. If you go by what record labels say and expect I would say no my music doesn’t fit in with today’s hip hop music. But if I listen to my fans and friends that support my music I would say it’s timeless.
HHD: With so many artists today turning to gimmicks and following what’s popular to achieve success, what keeps you grounded and focused on discussing real life issues in your songs (taking the non-popular route)?
GL: I grew up on 90s hip hop, even 80s hip hop, where there was a variety. You had your Latifah’s promoting “Ladies First” and you had Salt ‘N Pepa promoting sex, albeit safe sex. Both of those groups are still relevant today. You can catch them on tours or in movies. But I believe it’s because they chose to be themselves. Gimmicks are temporary; however, being you will last well beyond your own lifetime. With that being said, I remain grounded by looking at my “foremothers” in hip hop and see what worked and what did not for them and I pray I can get the same positive results in my own career.
HHD: In terms of your career in music, what would be your definition of success?
GL: My definition of success is being able to put out music and having a steady base of fans that look forward to it and supports it wholeheartedly. Of course doing shows and getting paid for them is also great! But to overall live off of what you love to do will make you successful at whatever you put your mind to.
HHD: What are you listening to right now? Who are some of your favorite artists?
GL: Right now I’m rocking to Antagonist Dragonspit’s album “Back on the Map”. Some of my favorite artists are RaeKwon the Chef, Ghostface, I like Drake because he has a great voice and his wordplay is great. I am open to all artists, I love Marsha Ambrosius, Amy Winehouse, even System of a Down, so I can’t really say I have a favorite being my music depends on what I am in the mood for that day.
HHD: Who would you name as the top five most influential female hip hop artists?
GL: 5. Roxanna Shante
4. Salt n Pepa
3. MC Lyte
2. Lauryn Hill
1. Queen Latifah – I picked Latifah as #1 because she has won Grammys for hip hop and jazz, has her own production (TV/film) company, and is still a relevant fixture to this day.
HHD: Describe the ideal Gangalee fan.
GL: The ideal Gangalee fan will remember I am human and prone to making mistakes but will support me regardless of what as long as the music I continue to put out is dope. Fans are Fanatics so if they wanted to get it popping in the name of Gangalee that would be dope too! (I’m only playing) I don’t promote violence. But if there is a group of people that will show up at every concert and wait til midnite to buy the latest album I would feel honored and blessed.
HHD: What do you have going on right now that you would like for us to support?
GL: “The Black Pin Up’ is my latest effort to be released later on this year. I have “Opulence/Hot 2.0” the video and first track off the BPU. I just shot 2 more videos. As soon as they are released I will definitely send it your way also. I’m on twitter; @TheRealGangalee and check out my website http://www.theofficialgangalee.com and my reverb page http://www.reverbnation.com/Gangalee. Also in the meantime if you want to get to know me and hear some of my previous works check out “Vintage Roots” the EP on itunes on sale now.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
GL: My definition of a hip hop diva is a woman that is making her presence known in hip hop without compromising herself or her integrity, nor resorting to controversy to get her rep up. I see chicks all the time throwing shade, hating and talking ish on twitter, but what they fail to realize is that makes you one of the boys…far from a diva!