When she’s not drawing blood at Mass General,
Lady Repo is pouring her own out onto paper. Born Ami Nata — or Queen
Mother in Senegalese — the rapper-turned-nursing-aid is as real as they
come. Repo cuts into her past like a surgeon with an honesty akin to
that of Beanie Sigel. “I don’t know how to water myself down.
If Sarah Palin is a bulldog with lipstick — or
whatever that moron called herself — Sheek is a rottweiler in heels
posing as a poodle. The girl’s girl from Dorchester may giggle between
songs, but when she barks, she barks big. Marking her territory all over
Boston, Sheek has performed in most of the major venues and earned
radio burn on all the local hip-hop stations.
It’s 6 am on a Sunday morning when Serge Didenko
picks me up for a photo shoot, and he’s as bright-eyed as Homer Simpson
at a pancake breakfast. At the shoot, he’s jumping over fences and
bouncing around the Belmont High School football field. “I’m kind of
crazy,” he says, cracking a smile. He’s not kidding.
When Young Don rocked the Fletcher Middle School
in Cambridge in eighth grade, his best friend, Chris, soon to become
Chief C, wasn’t about to let him get all the attention. The two have
been rapping together ever since. Their first mixtape as Certified G’z, Fly
Boyz, was “about a whole lot of nothing,” says Don, who recently
finished a one-year prison sentence.
It’s a slow, hot Sunday afternoon in Jamaica
Plain when I meet the Urban Nerdz by the Stony Brook station. Bouffard
Malory keeps jumping up and screaming at the sight of every passing
bumble bee; Kay Special alternates between sitting and standing every
few minutes; Ace BooGie casually places one leg in the air.
Concep sits in the corner of the Orleans bar and
restaurant in Somerville (where I’ve been a waitress for more than two
years) on nights when his brother Derrick works the door. Mostly, he’s
soft-spoken and keeps to himself, and when he said he rapped, I wasn’t
sure what to expect, since he doesn’t sport the arrogant swag that most
MCs wear like fur-collar coats.
In the modern entertainment industry, Bay Holla
is a Renaissance woman. Rapper, model, actress, philanthropist, street
worker, manager, community organizer, and comedian, the Roxbury native
is like an urban Rubik’s Cube. “I’m looking to make music,” she says,
“but at the end of the day, I do everything.
Before rap came along, Millyz was a singer in his
class chorus. “I just wanted to be a singer,” he says, sipping Hennessy
at Riverside Pizza in Cambridge, “but I would always try to memorize
what rappers said, so I could say it with them when I listened.” Growing
up near Central Square, “with all the bums and crackheads and crazies,”
Millyz was a white minority.
“When I’m in the studio, I’m calm,” says Young
Riot, sitting in a swivel chair at his East Boston studio. “I can get
pretty animated and go off. Someone saw me moving and called it a riot.”
Call it the calm before the storm. The young rapper is making waves in
Boston’s hip-hop scene. He signed with Bay State staple Amalgam Digital
last year and has since been covered in Hip Hop magazine and
the Source, performed at the 2010 SXSW music festival, gotten
nominated for MTVU’s best freshman video (for “Money Money”), and
started his own clothing company, YOMP.
Of all the artists in this spotlight, Fardaad’s
segue into hip-hop makes the least sense. The Suffolk Law student
started recording only three years ago, with one mic hooked up to his
home computer, and he’s yet to put together a MySpace or Facebook
profile, let alone a mixtape. “I’ve always been rapping, though,” says
the Iranian-born MC who raps in both English and Farsi.