Rapper-singer Nancia dropped a music video with help from some of Boston’s brightest femcees last week. "She Is Boston” comes stacked with a blistering beat, uplifting lyrics and a catchy hook sung by Nancia. Emergency sirens echo in the background.
“Dorchester, Roxbury, talking Mattapan. Jamaica Plains, even talking South End,” Nancia sings.
Red Shaydez, Brandie Blaze and Lord Ju jump in for verses declaring their love for Boston. They toss in lyrics about getting money, keeping the haters at bay and playing dudes left and right.
Watch it here:
The song comes from Nancia’s August-released project "Heir to the Throne" and you could see the royalty concept running through the music video. She says the project is all about queens, empowering each other and lifting each other up. Before shooting, she presented each of her collaborators with a crown — the ones you see them wearing in the video.
In a city that has been historically unwelcoming to hip-hop, we're seeing a tight knit group of musicians make a scene for themselves. Brandie Blaze says that collaborations like this are particularly important as Boston's femcees create an environment in a male-dominated genre where they could all thrive. “We’re trying to build a community. We’re trying to build a scene,” she says. “That’s why you see so many female rappers from Boston getting a lot of shine right now because we have a genuine spirit of friendly competition, but genuine love for each other and each other’s talents.”
Pushing back against old industry concepts that women can't work together — or that there's only room for one woman in hip-hop — female MCs today are doing some of the most interesting work in the country's most consumed genre. Between Megan Thee Stallion getting Nicki Minaj to hop on "Hot Girl Summer" and Rico Nasty on Doja Cat's "Tia Tamera," (which Red Shaydez and Brandie Blaze have remixed together) rap queens are making it known that the power of collaboration between femcees is a force too strong to mess with.
Nancia, who lives in Cambridge, says it's part of her personal mission to work with and support other women.
Assembling the crew, she chose Red Shaydez, Brandie Blaze and Lord Ju, each with their own personal connection to her and to each other. The camaraderie between them was evident in my conversations with the four artists, each of them emphasizing the importance of female empowerment through collaboration and hyping each other up.
Another major contributor is Jay Hunt, Nancia’s manager and the director of the video. Hunt also shot music videos for Brandie Blaze and Red Shaydez.
Roxbury-raised Red Shaydez has the first verse on the song and was the first in the booth with Nancia. “It’s putting you back in the day with like, Queen Latifah and 'Ladies First' and Lil’ Kim with 'Ladies Night,' " she says of the rap alliance. They’ve performed together before, so putting in her eight bars was an easy yes, said Red Shaydez. Brandie Blaze and Nancia met while performing at TRC Fest together. Nancia remembers seeing Lord Ju, whose flow reminded me of the Southern rappers I grew up listening to, rapping in videos on her newsfeed.
“We can all support each other and I feel like that’s a beacon of light for this season,” Nancia says. “Four girls did this and that means more girls can make it happen.”
Female-driven rap music has been bubbling under the surface with few ladies getting their shine, despite immense talent. This video is proof there’s a lot to look forward to regarding women in hip-hop, Boston's own rap scene and the heights than can be reached through local collaboration.