MC Eternia wants to go where the love is.
ETERNIA with KIM DAVIS, RAY ROBINSON, BLUES UNDERDOG and FAMOUS at the Opera House (735 Queen East), tonight (Thursday, August 14), 9:30 pm. $tba. And ETERNIA and ARCEE with DJ MEL BOOGIE, JJ ROCK and the REAL FREQUENCY CREW at Toika Lounge (471 Richmond West), Saturday (August 16), 11 pm. $5 before midnight, women free. 416-868-6452.
"My favourite rapper wears a Skirt" is the bold statement Canadian hip-hop phenom Silk "Eternia" Kaya is promoting on her new T-shirt. The T is a hit in spite of the desolate state of affairs for female MCs.
"The only negative response I've got is from a couple of insecure dudes who say, ‘Yeah, that's a great shirt - for chicks,'" she says. "There was even a comment that if a guy wears the shirt, the assumption will be that it's about a guy MC wearing a skirt. It doesn't even really imply the rapper is a girl."
She proudly shares examples of people who approach her excitedly about the shirt. When they ask who her favourite skirt-wearing MC is, it's a perfectly natural opportunity for her to promote herself. She humbly adds that she doesn't mind if others select someone else. Sparking dialogue is what's important.
Eternia is one of Canada's purist vocalists making rap music today. Often writing directly from her own experiences, she can turn sorrow into sunshine with the power of her confident songwriting. From well-received debut album It's Called Life (Urbnet) to the rapid-fire impact of the promotional blend project Where I'm At - The Setup, she's been asserting herself on the mic with more emotional depth and verbal havoc than ever before. With a few hushed but highly anticipted projects in the works (including one with DJ Premier-affiliated Canadian super-producer Moss), Eternia's about to embark on her second European tour, alongside Roxanne Shanté, Bahamadia, Invincible and others. This follows her early-August performance at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City for the 411 Initiative for Change.
The "AmeriCanadian" MC has a temporary residence in New York City and says she doesn't want to have to choose between her "home and native land" and the land of the free. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
"I want to continue growing and expanding through the whole world. I want to move to Paris. I want to live in Japan one day. It's not ‘Do I want to stay in Europe or come home to Toronto?' I go where the fans are. Do I have love back home? Yes. Do I think the hip-hop culture in Canada can sustain an artist who's just recording and putting out music and selling records? No. I want to go where the love and support is."
She's taking advantage of various opportunities to expand from Toronto to New York to Romania to Melbourne and onward, experiences that add to her independent business savvy. Plus, her reputation as an excellent performer keeps her hope alive in the face of perpetual hip-hop sexism and ignorance.
"Anywhere you go where people truly love good hip-hop music, they will appreciate my live show. I'm not on TV every day or heavily marketed and promoted. That's why I always say the people who love what I do are leaders, not followers. Their decision to say ‘I like Eternia' is something they came to on their own."
The female MC is not extinct. She's just changing into a stainless steel skirt, preparing to continue destroying wackness in the battle for equality. And her shirt definitely ignites controversy on a number of levels wherever it is seen.
So who's your favourite rapper in a skirt?
Eternia ponders her next move, all but ruling out Toronto: