Phreeda (who lives in London) could be called a globe trotting, cultured femcee whose first wish was always to be a writer. Far from this life-long wish to be a femcee it was through her love of poetry and the construction of words that she eventually found herself barring for her brother’s group.
“So I rapped a verse and that was it I was hooked. I used to sing but I was not that good at it but it was when I started rapping I thought yes I can do this.” She states.
The femcee game in the UK is certainly quite healthy but it seems the majority are leaning towards the grime come dance music flex (I am open to a difference of opinion)-Phreeda is taking it back to the origins of all grime emceeing and taking it to a more hip-hop based sixteens and thirty-two’s (although she is not exclusively hip-hop).
To that effect she drops her latest project the curiously ambiguous Ruby, Sex and Vultures and me like it! Indeed if Phreeda was a femcee who was bubbling then this latest cut has turned the gas mark UP to boiling as we go on a foray with Phreeda (pronounced Frieda) through; old skool hip-hop beats, bass heavy bullets, smidgens of dance vibes all held together by sometimes profound, sometimes braggadocios but always well constructed bars.
Personal favourites off Ruby, Sex and Vultures are plenty from the current single Gold Car which is all aggy and dangerous like crossing the M25 with a blindfold and a bad case of rickets while a drunk driver hurtles towards you in an articulated lorry- to Ruby Sex and Vultures. This track is a nostalgic and a welcome retro hip-hop beat blessed by a durrty bass line-the black and white video in turns smacks it for sheer simplicity. One of the top female dj’s out there right now Melody Kane scratches and transforms while Phreeda (on that old skool flex) stands in front of the decks barring like it was her last rap ever-tasty!
So Flavour could not miss the chance to chat with the equally tasty Phreeda, so in downtown central London (well Oxford Circus to be exact) we met for a tête-à-tête.
Sharp Shooter loads.
I was an introvert, shy and I just loved poetry and I would just read books all day-I expect I was a bit of a nerd really. I was really good at English and I loved creative writing and so I actually wanted to become a writer and I genuinely thought that is what I would become.
I was in love with this writer called Fred D’Aguiar from Guyana and he is just amazing I just wanted to do what he did. He was great at personification and he wrote a lot about slavery and things like that and so his subjects were heavy and deep. There is this book he wrote called Feeding The Ghost and another called The Longest Memory they were brilliant books that I studied at college. He wrote an entire book in the form of a poem and I was ‘wow’ I just thought that was sick. I had to write a story in my literature class combining the two books and I actually made my teacher cry.
Sharp Shooter aims!
The African side of my family are musically orientated; my mother was a music teacher/singer, her brother was in a band with her and on a Saturday you would wake up in my house and people would be playing drums and singing-it was like freestyle singing-my mum never really wrote tracks. Even when she came here she was with an African dance group and she taught little kids to play the drums and dance.
My brother is also into music he is a producer, singer, video director and my sister was singing as well so my path into music was not something that I thought about it just kind of happened. When I was at college my brother had started a rap group and at that time everyone had a female rapper in their group and so he was like we need you-Jay-Z had Foxy, Biggie had Lil Kim so he was searching and then just asked me to do it. I rapped a verse and that was it I was hooked. I used to sing but I was not that good at it but it was when I started rapping I thought yes I can do this it just felt natural: you could write and it was still poetic.
Rap allowed me to tap into a more extrovert side of me that was so different-there was me and then there was this side where I could just say what I want and get all egotistical. Even then however, music was a side thing for a long time it was just something that I did with family. It was only in 2010 that it became something that I realised could be a career. While in my brother’s group I was helping him write but I was also trying to figure myself out as an artist. Eventually I decided to do a solo project and it all started from there.
Sharp Shooter fires with Ruby, Sex and Vulture
I get inspired by random things-obviously it always has to come from the heart but because I started writing first I can like see a colour and it can make me think about how that colour makes me feel and then it might bring up a subject and so I can then write a track purely on the feeling. Or I can just hear a sick beat and be like ‘no I am going in on that!’-it could be stuff I have been through, a lot of my stuff is drawn from direct experiences.
With Ruby Sex and Vultures I wrote all the tracks and I usually name a mix-tape or album after the writing is done and so the album was named after the track that you like with Melody which refers to this character of sorts ‘Ruby’ which is that side of me that is nuts. It’s not really my alter ego it’s the wildness in me, it’s that passionate wild just don’t give a fuck side of me. ‘Sex’ because it is something I talk about throughout the mix-tape and it is about the negative and the positive side of sex and the ‘vultures’ well that is about vulnerability, about people who suck your energy really and try and put you down but sometimes the vulture is yourself in a way. As a musician you hustle and hustle for everything and it is that greed and that hunger to succeed –you’re like the vulture to yourself because you can just cut everything else out and forget about living.
Sharp Shooter shooting with producers!
The most frustrating thing is trying to find a producer. I mean once you get each other then it works. I think it is black or white it either works or it does not. Some producers like (Ollie Green) who did Gold Car just know what I will like I don’t even have to tell them. When I was doing this mix-tape I was a scouting for beats and then he told me about this beat he had that was like an ‘old skool Timbaland beat’-he sent me it and I was just totally gassed it was sick! Juju Dolla was produced by Focus Williams who is new to me and that was like the last track I added to the mix-tape. I had just finished the mix-tape but there was something missing, something I needed to show another level and I got that beat from him.
Sharp shooter reload.
I did a mix-tape last year called Seven Days in the Life of Sharp Shooter and I threw that together in like two weeks and that was just me going in on a surface level. Ruby, Sex and Vultures is just a level below the surface and so with my next project I really want to open up and get more insightful. I want people to get to know me as a person and as an artist. I think now people think I am so aggressive and so in your face and I get asked if I am being a feminist with the tracks like 99 Problems?- I am just saying what I want to say that’s it really.
Also at the end of this year I will put out another project it will probably be an EP but there will be more shows coming up-I have a big show coming up at Barfly on the 11th July. This year really though is about more gigs and raising my profile and dropping more music and more videos.
Foxy or Kim
I love Foxy she was sick. Kim was raw but the early Foxy when she was with Jigga and they did that track ‘Aint No Nigga’ that track still to this day lifts off or you remember that tune with I’ll Be (1996) where they go back and forth it was amazing, so Foxy was the one for me.
Don’t forget that you can get Ruby Sex and Vultures as a free-download on www.phreedasharp.com which has a special bonus track with a Kings of Leon cover.