Get to know a different side to the hip-hop artist
It is a chilled day in the office and I am looking forward to an interview with Gigi Lamayne. After a few hours of waiting, she finally arrives with her road manager. She is dressed in a black and red t-shirt dress with red shades. One thing I notice is that she is shorter than she appears on pictures and tv.
I introduce myself and while shaking her hand she says “Girl your hand is cold” and we both laugh. I always watch her Insta-stories where she is loud and talkative and that is exactly how she is in person. As an interviewer, I instantly feel at ease the moment she compliments my brows and realise that she is sweet.
Genesis Gabriella Tina Manney is a 24-year-old hip hop artist who has been making waves in the industry for the past couple of years. She describes herself as, “a normal girl from the township who decided to do the rap thing.”
She discovered her gift when she was 10 when they were given an assignment to write a poem about Valentine’s day. Kim Bakers, her English teacher mentored her. She was impressed by how she “plays” with words.
The rapper fell in love with hip-hop when she first discovered Da Brat in her brother’s collection of DVDs. The Ice-cream hitmaker liked her and realised that this is what she wanted to write.
“I started doing music when I was just 16 years.I met the late Pro at the Hip Hop Cypher at Gandhi Square after school. That is when he approached me and said that he really wanted to work with me”.
“I entered competitions and in the finals, I was the only female going against these big men who were telling me to go back to school”, she laughs.
2016 was the year of her big break. She released the song “Ice cream” which featured Khuli Chana. After the release of that song, people knew exactly who Gigi Lamayne was – a fierce rapper with impressive bars.
“I was in my second year [when it came out] and it would become super weird in class. People would say things like oh you are the girl that raps, the ice cream girl, ” she giggles.
Her friends would make jokes and say “Hayi lo,ungathi uthenge oteacher(It seems as if she bribed the teacher)”. They didn’t understand how she managed to keep up with school while doing music on the side.
Growing up the hip-hop star didn’t have a close relationship with her father. She opened up about and how they reconnected a couple of years ago.
When I ask about how it was seeing him again after a long time she said, “My father was there all the time but I think people never seem to understand that there is a difference between being a dad and a father.Being a father and being present is really important. ”
Throughout her life, her dad had never been to her school. For her, it felt as if he was not interested. She now has a good relationship with him and takes care of him as well.
“It is a work in progress but I think the real hero here is my mom. She never stopped me from seeing my dad”.
Gigi’s mom is her best friend.“When my mom says something it is always right so she scares me”.
The hip-hop artist explains how she spends a lot of time with her mom. “My mom is the one person who encourages me at all times and as long as she does there’s no way I can fail”. For her family is important hence she usually spends Sunday mornings at her parent’s house.Her stepdad would get meat and they would have a braai as at home. “ I would be at my parent’s house watching soccer with my stepdad pretending as if I understand it”, she laughs.
Much like her lyrical skill, her style has evolved as she has grown. “When I got in the game I didn’t really care about how I looked. I honestly thought that people would only be interested in my music”. Making an effort in what she wears is what she does now as there are people who look up to her and get inspired by what she wears.
As the question of what is missing in the industry arises, she talks about how hip-hop has been localised. The fact that artists now rap in their mother tongues and people are able to enjoy the music even more.
“What is missing in the industry is mainstream consciousness’’, She talks about how artists including herself should start making music that people can jam to even after 7 years. Making references to songs like Sista Betina and Nkalakatha.
Female rappers are always compared to each other and it has been a topic since day one. “When females come together they make something great, so the comparison is unnecessary”.
Genesis has been spending a lot time in the studio, getting reading to drop her album which is set to be released in November. She is also planning a tour, she would like to go to different schools, especially girls schools in the township.
“The album is dropping in November and it’s going to be my best work.The Gigi Lamayne foundation is back and we will be raising funds for kids.Super excited for that”.
Images by Tshituku Ndadza