By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
I love Bay Area Hip Hop, and music in general, because I am a big fan of musical innovation, passion, and great story-telling. With the exception of Mystic of Digital Underground, there hasn’t been any female MC’s that have dominated Hip Hop in the Bay like their male counterparts, since the early days of Too Short, Mac Dre, and MC Hammer. The Bay Area has never had a MC Lyte, Bahamadia, or Eve, so the door has been open for a Bay Area queen of Hip Hop, for decades now. Since hosting regularly at the Compound, in East Oakland, I have come across a lot of potential candidates, but one that stands above most because of her lyrical abilities, is So Vicious.
Hailing from the ‘hood of Hunter’s Point, one of the two last major strongholds of Black people in San Francisco, it is not a surprise that she is no punk on the mic. So Vicious recently rocked with the legendary, Bay Area-based, commercial radio mix master Rick Lee, at his weekly event at the Tiki Bar in San Jose. She is also very well known in her hometown of Frisco for keeping stages lit. If you did not already know, I wanted to introduce you to this lyrical heavyweight, and if you did know of her, check her out in her own words, because she is very far from a dummy.
JR Valrey: When were you first inspired to rap, and who were the rappers who inspired you? Why were you inspired by them?
So Vicious: I first started rapping when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Artists who inspired me were 2pac, Lil Kim, Ice Cube, Biggie, Da Brat, Foxy Brown, Eve, Lauryn Hill and Bay Area rappers such as San Quinn, Rappin 4 Tay, RBL and E40, mostly rappers from the 90’s era. I also was influenced by a lot of old school music by my mom. I was influenced by these people because it all was relatable, it sounded good and I wanted to tell stories like them.
JR Valrey: How has being from Hunter’s Point in San Francisco influenced your style?
So Vicious: Being from Hunters Point has influenced me a lot. It made me who I am. A lot of my music comes from experiences which have occurred in Hunters Point. I got my style from Hunters Point. I describe it as hood, sexy, and unique, all at the same time.
JR Valrey: How would you describe your style of rapping? What kind of beats do you like? Why?
So Vicious: My style is kinda old school, like the era that influenced me. Its different, I don’t sound like most female rappers. I don’t mumble rap, and I don’t talk about my p***y in every song or verse that I spit. I like to be versatile. I really spit bars and have something to say. When I first started rapping, a lot of people used to say I reminded them of Marvaless, which was an honor ‘cause she goes crazy. And I like beats that slap, those beats that pull the lyrics out of you.
JR Valrey: How would you describe your creative process? Do you have to feel a certain way to write a song?
So Vicious: Honestly when I’m writing I like to be alone to vibe out. I like to be alone with my thoughts. I don’t like to feel pressured. I like to have all my material written before I come to the studio, so I can get straight to recording, although there are many times that I have written at the lab. Also it goes back to the beat. When beats bring the lyrics out of me and they pick a topic that’s the best. I feel when you are in your feelings or going through something, the music comes out better. It makes it more authentic and heartfelt, when it’s coming from a place of truth. It helps with the story telling.
JR Valrey: How do you feel about San Francisco sitting on top of the Bay Area rap game with artists like Larry June, Stunnaman02, Ronski, Showbanga, Footz the Beast, and Young Prezi leading the charge?
So Vicious: I feel like San Francisco is in a good place, musically. There is a lot of undeniable talent out here, but unfortunately there is no unity and a lot of people aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve. Anytime anyone wins or gets a hit from the City, it’s a good look for the City as a whole. It gets our music scene attention, which is a plus. I support anyone following their dreams, especially artists from San Francisco. It’s the City for me.
JR Valrey: What kind of obstacles have you encountered being a female lyricists from the City?
So Vicious: Being a female artist has its ups and downs, as we all know, this industry is male dominated. But there are a lot of dope femcees on the rise, and some are way better than some males who rap. In the City there aren’t too many female artists who are relevant and popping, and if they are, people always try to turn it into competition; when there is actually enough money, fans, and exposure for everyone. Sometimes there are shows thrown, who only want male performers which makes no sense. Everyone should be able to shine.
JR Valrey: You are a regular performer at the Compound in East Oakland on Mondays, what do you think about that space?
So Vicious: I love the Compound space. It is very comfortable and welcoming. I’m honored to be able to perform there. It’s always great to have a place where artists can express themselves among other artists and fans.
JR Valrey: What do you have going on for the rest of the year as an artist? Any new music, visuals, performances coming up?
So Vicious: I will be releasing new music and videos soon, and I am getting booked for shows as we speak. Flyers and dates will be posted, as they arrive. For the rest of the year, I plan on continuing to record music, do features, and performances. I just wanna elevate and prosper.