Going against any status-quo is brutal enough in this day and age, but what if you did so while being a complete bad-ass shaking the Hip-Hop scene as we know it. When you think of female rappers, most of us imagine Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, or Meg Thee Stallion, all rightfully successful but it is also time to make way for the next up-and-coming female rappers… So, meet Charmaine.
It is safe to say she has rocketed into the scene leaving a trail of fans feeling more self-worthy and motivated than before. Her music is the perfect fit for Charmaine’s personality, bubbly, fiery, and determined. Determined to make her younger self proud and her future self-fulfilled. There is nothing more beautiful than a musician reaping the rewards of their hard work, and if you listen to every aspect of Charmaine’s music, from the lyrics to production she oozes traits that are for everyone. Here is what happened when we sat with Charmaine…
Congratulations on your latest project! How have you been finding life after the release? How has the reaction been?
It’s been such an amazing time watching everything unfold day by day! Seeing so many people vibe to my music is honestly the best feeling in the world. I love it here!
I am obsessed with We Don’t Care ft Haviah! How did that track come about?
Thank you! Okay so, initially on the first release of “Hood Avant Garde” I had “I Don’t Care”. My team, Lantz, David Ariza, and Runway wanted to create something in the UK drill vibe. I wanted to make the record all about not caring about what anyone else is doing or saying but being the badass I am. Haviah’s style and approach were perfect for this and when I reached out to her, I already knew it was the one I’d want her on. So, I got her on there and we named it “We Don’t Care”. It’s important for us as black women and artists to support and uplift one another. I wanted to make a statement for the city and send a message that will hopefully show others that we can win this together!
What is your favourite track from the project?
My favourite track honestly is all of them for different reasons but if I HAD to pick 1, I’d say Sizzle featuring Kali. For that track, I got to tap into a different tonal approach as well as let that sexy/nastier side out HA! I had to warn my dad not to listen to it otherwise he was going to have a heart attack.
Where did the inspiration for A Mi Manera come from? Have you always taken inspiration from Latin-inspired music?
For this record, I wanted to try something different. An international summer vibe. I’ve always loved reggaeton. We really wanted to figure out a way of combining that vibe with who Charmaine the artist is to create something fresh and new. Doing the song justice was so important because I wanted to make sure we were representing Latin culture in the best way. Valentino brought the organic finesse that really tied everything together.
One thing I love about you is how open you are through hard times and joyful ones, have you always had those qualities? If so, how has this had to adapt as you have gained recognition for your music globally?
I wasn’t always this candid about the struggles. Like others, I struggled with it in fear of being judged. But as I got older, I realized that there is nothing wrong with being open about all the stages in your life. The struggles give you the push you need to be a better version of yourself. So many people have gone through the same struggles, and I know being bold enough to speak my truth…will help someone else speak theirs. I’m grateful for every hardship in my life because they all made me the person you see here now.
Growing up, you moved around a lot from city to city and country to country. How did music help you stay in touch with who you are while your environment is always changing?
Even though I moved around a lot, I was a really sheltered child. Traditional African parents are protective especially towards their daughters so all I would do is be in my room listening to music. I would be dancing, pretending to be a Destiny’s Child member in front of thousands of people…It’s the one thing I could hold on to that I knew I’d never have to leave behind.
Reading about you, your hard times reap inspiration for so many of your listeners. how do you look back on the times where your future was uncertain and are you proud of yourself?
I think about it every day. It’s crazy how one minute you can be dreaming and praying for something then the next moment before you realize it…it’s reality. I honestly just feel so blessed to be able to live the life I’m living. I’m extremely proud of myself for never staying down even when I fell short.
Being born in Zimbabwe and then moving to North America, what kind of musical influences did you have?
Most of the music I began listening to was a part of the southside snap music era as well as the 90s/early 2000s RnB and Hip-Hop. I’m influenced by Missy Elliot, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Nicki Minaj as well as Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz, Maino, Dem Franchise Boyz, Yung Joc, E-40, and the list goes ON!
Female rap is a very strong category, growing up I can only name a few female rappers that I actually knew of. Now there are so many in such a male saturated industry, how has your experience been entering the rap game as a woman and how do you hope it progresses in the future.
It’s defending a daily struggle breaking into the music game as a black woman. Aside from the success I’ve attained thus far, I still find people don’t give female rappers the flowers we deserve. We’re dominating right now. The amount of work we put into our music and artistic directions. Constantly having to fight for a seat at a table that didn’t have a seat assigned for you. It’s a lot of pressure and sometimes stressful, but I’ve never seen as many women in the game killing it as I do now. I just focus on the positive because I know my talent speaks for itself and people will have no choice other than to pay attention.
What was the pivotal moment for you when you realised that this is what you want to do?
It was back in 2018 when I was working at Sephora and was probably the most unhappy…I have ever been in my life. It felt wrong. I felt like I was heading down the wrong path for my life. I looked at my son every day and struggled to try to figure out what I’m going to do with my life to make sure I can provide for him. One day I got fed up and I knew at that moment it was time for me to take a chance. I quit my job, started writing music again, got a record deal, and never looked back…
If you were to read this a year from now, where do you hope you are and what is next for you?
I hope to be on my first tour. Performing and feeling the energy of the crowd in real life. I would like to get some award nominations as well as have another project or two out. Ultimately I want to keep this light airy-ness I have in my spirit that allows me to enjoy what I do without putting too much pressure on myself in order to continue making more of this fire music!