A decade after her career as a female hip hop artist launched itself by fate, Gigi Lamayne is still standing. She’s still producing hits and dropping mad bars despite having faced many storms as a woman in a male-dominated industry and she credits knowing who she is and what her purpose is for her longevity.
In the hip hop space, rappers come and go but female mostly go. The space isn’t for the fainthearted and even though Gigi didn’t always know that rap would be her career, she knew fate pushed her towards her destiny the minute she wrote her first song.
“I have been a rapper for about... wow 10 to 11 years and I never thought it would be a career path for me because I went university and did subjects that had nothing to do with music. It kinda just happened by default one day when I kind of just entered a competition with Jack Daniels and I went all the way to the finals and I won. That was when I wrote my first song, went to Miami as part of the winner’s package and when I came back my song was one of the biggest songs in South Africa, titled Ice Cream featuring Khuli Chana and then everything looked very different after that,” she said.
Gigi studied for a BA in Media and Anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand. She explains that just like many kids she toggled between several careers before settling on journalism. That is how she ended up studying media but later realised that her kind of journalism was musical.
“Hip hop can be considered as journalism because you are capturing a moment in people’s lives and their stories and their realities. You capture your ideals of what you want the world to look like, that’s why I love it.”
Acknowledging that the music industry isn’t always kind to women, Gigi said she would never encourage a young girl to break into the industry without authentic backup.
“I would recommend a young girl being a rapper if she’s strong and has guidance, like if she’s under some kind of artist development facilitated by people who know the ins and outs of the industry and have nothing to benefit from her. I think that’s what we lack in this country. You’ll find young girls trying to break into the industry and being hindered by different things such as people wanting things from you or wanting to take advantage of you like financially, emotionally, mentally and even physically.”
Gigi said while the creative processes of creating music are often therapeutic and beautiful, the industry itself and some people in it were scary and filled with malicious intentions. She said if given the choice her children would never be allowed to even consider a career in music.
“Music is a really scary world to go into... I would never want my child to be a rapper.”
Ten years later Gigi is still a beast with the words and she vouches for reading as the ultimate plug. Reading is Gigi’s most recommended tool of how one can remain sharp, no matter who or what you are. The rapper prides herself on her desire to constantly acquire knowledge about everything and anything. For the rapper reading, just like observing life unfold, also serves as inspiration for her music.
And, in a world where you often have to adapt or die, Gigi says reading and doing research goes a long way in helping her diversify her portfolio, especially because she doesn’t have a plan B.
“I wouldn’t say I have a plan B but I definitely believe in having a diversified portfolio. I have recently gone into the reality TV world and people will see that towards the end of the year. I have gone into a lot of brand work, other spaces such as entrepreneurship, and even editorial spaces. I have done philanthropic campaigns. My thing is when I do these things, I don’t do them so I can make ends meet, I do them because they are often driven by a passion I have. So my “plan B” is not really backup in case plan A doesn’t work, it’s more about extending my passion, never being bored, and being better than I was yesterday.”
You only need to listen to her bars to know that Gigi moves with confidence and treats herself like the queen she thinks she is and she explained that it’s all rooted in the fact that she knows that being African is her biggest flex.
“Being African for me means, I started it all and I will end it all. Everything began with me and it will end with me. I am a leader and I am victorious. I overcome, I compromise, and I am rich in culture, versatility. I am empathetic and I know who I am. I walk in a completely different light because I know who I am and where I come from. Being African is such a beautiful thing and what I love most about us is that we are so big on where we come from and for so many years we’ve been told that being African was unpopular and uncool, but we’ve been awakened, we’ve had a cultural and spiritual awakening. The coolest thing to be right now is to be African. We are the mother continent and that can never be changed.”
And, that’s that on hip hop bars and African royalty!