“Hip-hop has been my life,” revealed rapper Rachel Paulick, also known as MC Reality, during a recent interview. “I was five when I first put a boombox on my shoulder.”
Of her moniker, she reveals, “MC and DJ names take on your persona. You have to earn your name. They call me Reality because I’m always speaking the truth.”
About her own artistic impetus, DJ Spitt (Vanessa Corral) muses, “DJ-ing is a lot like bartending. You go to a bar because you like how that bartender makes a drink, and you like the atmosphere. A DJ does the same thing [with records].”
Spitt, along with local DJ Xist (Stacey Fitzgerald), local MC Observe (Brooke Neely) and Reality (who’s based in Tampa), will be headlining the Illest Ladiez hip-hop and drum-n-bass show at Stella Blue.
(Not) just for men
Reality is the mastermind behind the production, which she points out is not so much a battle of the sexes (a few men will take the stage at the Jan. 7 event) — but rather an opportunity to showcase local, up-and-coming talent.
“We’re just trying to mix different types of music and reach different types of people — different generations,” she says. “In Asheville, there’s a lot of hip-hop going on, but it’s male-dominated.”
And though she maintains this isn’t a “feminist thing,” she’s quick to insist that it’s time for women to make a name for themselves in the genre. “I’m blowing up right at the right time because everybody’s looking for something new,” the aspiring producer claims. “They’re sick of the same crap — of the male-dominated scene. And everybody loves girl lyrics.”
DJ Spitt, meanwhile, seems to applaud the relative ease of her calling: “You don’t need vocal talent [to spin records]; you don’t need to play an instrument — you just need to be able to hear everything and make it all fit together.” But all three performers agree that women breaking into the scene have to work harder than their male counterparts. Club owners demand demos and promises of crowds. Other MCs don’t want to compete against women. Reality says she once had to freestyle for hours to land a gig.
The thing is, though, these ladies are up for the challenge.
“Women have not been given a chance in hip-hop,” Reality says. “It’s not even that there aren’t many girls rapping, it’s just that people think women are a joke in the hip-hop scene.”
She continues, “I [put on] a lot of shows that are a majority of women, because [otherwise] they don’t get a chance. People think [women] don’t know what they’re talking about — that they haven’t lived a hard life. But if you’ve struggled at all, if it’s been hard in your own mind, in any way, then you know. You don’t have to be from the ghetto.”
Bringing the music back
DJ Xist has been honing her skills for a decade, since she first got into the music at raves she frequented. A cousin showed her how to use the equipment, and then left her to create her own style.
These days, her shows are predominately drum-n-bass. “I love drum-n-bass,” the DJ says, “[but] there’s a large variety of stuff in my basement. I’m even working with a cellist right now and we’ll eventually do an ensemble — a band where the DJ is the leader.”
Spitt, who will break out the hip-hop for the Stella Blue show, also loves ’70s and ’80s remixes, and isn’t afraid to throw a little Bob Seger on the turntable.
Reality, on the other hand, favors impromptu lyrics. She got her start making rhymes in Buffalo, NY, as a kid, but finally grabbed a mic from a guy at a party a few years back and “since then, it’s been all over.”
She recalls: “When I started freestyling, all this adrenaline came up and I was ripping up the mic. I realized all these positive things I could get out through music.”
From her Tampa home base, Reality is ready to do more than just make her own voice heard. She’s setting up her own production company (Realyst Productions) and is signing other under-the-radar artists.
“We’re trying to bring music back from the mainstream. Big [recording companies] aren’t giving any good message to young kids,” reports the MC, who claims she herself turned down a major-label deal after creative differences surfaced.
“There are really good underground artists who aren’t getting heard,” she laments.
And so Reality — though she’s still in her early 20s — is now busy signing, promoting and advertising lesser-known performers. “It’s not just hip-hop — I’m also doing folk music and all kinds of projects,” she relates. Proving her versatility, she then drops a line favored by artists of all genres — and both sexes: “I don’t care about making the money; it’s all about the music.”
The Illest Ladiez pump up the jam at Stella Blue (31 Patton Ave.) on Friday, Jan. 7. 11 p.m. $10. 236-2424.