This is an exclusive video premiere, part of The ARTery's effort to highlight ascending New England musicians.
“I’m a model/ Can’t be my make, though.” So goes the hook to Brandie Blaze’s “Model,” a pugnacious assertion of self-hood over a merciless beat. The idea being: Brandie Blaze is one-of-a-kind, a make and model unto herself.
“Technically, it should be the other way around. It should be, ‘I'm a make, but you can't be my model,’ which would make more sense,” the Dorchester-raised, Newton-based rapper tells me over the phone, laughing. “But rapping that makes no sense and doesn't sound good.”
The word “model” had to come first, of course, because it works on two levels. It’s the fashion model meaning that Blaze and her team run with in the video for “Model,” which premieres here on The ARTery. In the video, shot by Jay Hunt of SmokeHouse Media at the Dorchester Art Project, Blaze struts up and down a make-shift catwalk, surrounded by an adoring posse of friends and collaborators, in a cleavage-bearing top and a leather skirt.
“I wanted to definitely do something a little bit outside of my comfort zone,” Blaze says, describing herself as a “jeans and kicks kind of girl.” She also wanted to project an image that was powerful. “I really am about ownership of my body and ownership of my sexuality, especially as a plus-sized black woman,” she says. “The way that we're portrayed in media a lot of times is kind of like, you know, the sassy, asexual best friend that never has a love interest. And I definitely want to play against that type.” She adds that, as a rape survivor, it has become important to “control my own body and have ownership of everything I display.”
“Model” is a single from Blaze’s upcoming sophomore album, “Late Bloomer.” (The rapper has not revealed when the album officially drops but will celebrate its imminent release at The Rockwell in Somerville on Dec. 6.) Like its predecessor, “Spinster,” “Late Bloomer” features trap-adjacent beats and raunchy, sometimes aggressively sexual lyrics. (A sample: “Got him on his knees/ ‘Cause he do what I say so/ I don’t care if he dies/ When I’m on his face though.”) But it also delves tenderly into Blaze’s insecurities, the part of her that feels inconsistent with the bravado she projects in her music. “This album feels very, very personal to me in a way that my first one didn’t,” she says.
You can also hear Blaze loosening up, vocally, on “Late Bloomer.” On “Model,” she flips deftly from a full-throated bellow to a teasing drawl. “I’ve finally come to a place where I’m comfortable with my voice,” Blaze says. Her voice is naturally deep, and early in her career she felt insecure about it. “That's something that I just kind of learned to embrace,” she says. “Like, ‘No, this is my voice.’ And I have to embrace how I sound and my tone and I have to take advantage of that.” On “Model,” she raps with confidence — the kind of confidence it takes to proudly strut the catwalk.