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The Last Conscious Rapper Alive: Queen Deelah Speaks on Vaccines, Inspiration, and More

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by JR Valrey, The Minister of Information JR

Queen Deelah remains a lyrically conscious Hip Hop powerhouse 13 years after she left what Otis Redding called “the dock of the bay”, and relocated to the sleepy town, which is turning into the nation’s next tech haven, Austin Texas. The pandemic years have been brutal to the conscious Hip Hop genre, by deeming most of the artists irrelevant, due to the fact that they are afraid to be ostracized for criticizing the criminal vaccine mandates. Living up to her name, Queen Deelah has never been afraid to stand alone. She just recently dropped the politically packed song and video, “Battlefield”, for those of us that are currently engaged in thinking for self, in an age of group thinkers. It is refreshing to hear such a fearless message, when all the mainstream media has been promoting for the last two years has been distress, terror, and anxiety in an attempt to psychologically beat people into submitting to being jabbed with experimental vaccines and booster shots. Check out Queen Deelah’s upcoming EP, “Quarantine Conversations”, and check her out in her own words…

JR Valrey: Can you talk about your single that just dropped? What inspired you to write such a bold song?

Queen Deelah: The new single I just released is called “Battlefield”. It is a hip hop rendition of a song I remember singing in church growing up. It was a song that stuck with me because my grandmother led the song. My grandmother endured a lot growing up in Arkansas, and moving to Oakland at 18 in 1960. She has beat many illnesses and is currently legally blind.  Her and my grandfather raised all of us to have a strong faith in God, and to trust that God got you. For me that resonates in these times in which so much is going on. Some of the same things my grandparents were faced with, we are still faced with today. Slavery went from the plantation to the prison system. There is still racism and police brutality. Right now we are in a space where we are being forced to continue to buy into a system that has never had the best interest of the people. To me it is important to be transparent in my art and reflect on what is really happening. I choose to be the transformation that I want to see.

JR Valrey: Where is conscious rap? Since the pandemic started we haven’t heard no one speak out on the vaccination mandates, but you? 

Queen Deelah: Conscious rap in today’s society has been overshadowed by the mainstream to keep the masses in a dumbed down state. I imagine folks get discouraged from not getting mainstream support. I continue to speak on real topics because it is important for me to raise awareness, so we can raise the frequency. I spoke on the vaccines because I see the division it has caused and is causing. This is a calling not just a career. 

JR Valrey: Can you talk a little bit about the sound of your new album? When does it drop?

Queen Deelah: The sound of my new album has been inspired by going through the pain of the pandemic. I have lost a lot of family and friends during these past couple of years. Writing and creating music has been therapeutic to my spirit during these rough times. The name of my up and coming EP is “Quarantine Conversations”. My new record “Battlefield” is my 1st single off this project. I recorded very powerful discussions between me, my grandmother, father, incarcerated cousin, and close community members on what it has been like living during this pandemic. Those conversations turned into song about my experience these days and times. So on the album I am talking about grieving, having family members incarcerated, mental health, love, police brutality and medicine. It is a work in progress and I hope to release the full Ep “Quarantine Conversations”, in mid-March 2022.

JR Valrey: In this time of societal panic, what allows you to be fearless with your rhymes?

Queen Deelah: My faith in the Most High allows me to be fearless in all that I do. My rhymes are a reflection of the work that I have done in the community 20+ years across the nation. If there was ever a time to stand for what you believe, now is the time. Fear is false evidence that appears real. I know that this is just an illusion, and once the illusion clears we can reclaim our power. I am doing my personal work to be the best version of myself. The more love and light we reflect and uplift, the more love and light we’ll see. I am using my ancestors as a guide to do the work.

JR Valrey: Since you moved from Oakland to Austin, Texas 13 years ago, how would you compare these two cities? What do you like and dislike about both of them?

Queen Deelah: 13 years! I moved from Oakland on Dec 24 2008 to Austin, it was weird lol but cool. It took me a little while to get adjusted, but once I did I was happy I took a leap of faith. Austin is a nice conservative city that is overall nice to raise a family in. Oakland on the other hand, “Town Biz” we all know how grimy it is in the Town. Yet and still there is no place on earth like Oakland. All of the game I have learned in and around Oakland can, and will take me to places the average person can’t go. It’s a certain frequency we have, that allows us to be creative and innovative on the west coast at the highest level. I am grateful to tap into that side of the game of Oakland but can’t stand the violence, oppressive conditions we live in, lack of opportunities and resources. Being in Austin has helped me to see that there is more to life than living in poverty. Austin is a place to calibrate to move intentionally. What I don’t like about Austin is how all these big tech companies from the west coast are gentrifying the community. Being a west coast native I know all too well what happens when people are displaced, and violence is a result of that. 

JR Valrey: Can you tell people when and how you became a rapper? 

Queen Deelah: I fell in love with music at the age of 5 singing in the church choir. I have a family full of artists and musicians. Growing up most of the artists in my family were singers, and a few of the men were rappers. Listening to my brother and cousins rap made me want to rap. My cousin Christa wrote my 1st rap at age 8, taught me how to write lyrics, and I have been writing rhythms ever since. I became more serious about being a MC in high school, rapping in the lunch room and talent shows. What inspired me to take my career seriously was being a youth organizer at Oakland Kid’s First 2002 “REAL HARD”, which gave me an opportunity to show my skills talking about social issues. In 2004, I graduated from youth radio and got the opportunity to learn about the industry, behind the scenes. Me working at youth radio gave me insight, and inspired me to strive for my dreams. The same year I started to record in community centers like Covenant House and Youth Uprising and participated in programs like Real Hard, Cov Records, Bump Records, YMR, Silence The Violence, Turf Unity, and more. In 2005 I released my 1st debut album “Rize 4 Da Queen” and I have been going hard on the grind as an independent artist every since

JR Valrey: Who were some of the rappers that you were first inspired by? Why?

Queen Deelah: Some of the rappers who inspired me coming up were: Tupac, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Common, Public Enemy, Chuck D, and mostly artists who spit that consciousness. Although growing up on the west coast, I love our natives Too Short, E40, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube; their message a lot of the time reflected street culture. I love all kinds of great music, but the music that resonates most has a message, great vibes, and is teaching through lyrics.

JR Valrey: Where did you get your rap name from?

Queen Deelah: I got my name from my brother from another mother Krypto of Bay Life and co-creator of Dope Era. When I started to perform on the scene in Oakland, I was going by Young Deelah, and then just Deelah. One day I was at the Bay Life studio, off of High St., and we were having a discussion about my impact on the scene in a short amount of time. Kyrp said ”you not Deelah, you are Queen Deelah”! I was like you know what bruh, you’re right. And I have been queening ever since. 

JR Valrey: How has being a mother affected your craft?

 Queen Deelah: Being a mother and an entertainer can get challenging; late nights, early mornings, clubs, and travelling. It has not been easy balancing many titles all the time, but what I am grateful for is to have the support of my children and family. My children are my biggest fans, and they let me know if a song or production is hot or not. Sometimes I am unable to participate, due to needing to be present for my children. I love that I get the chance to show my kids that even though I have them, I am still striving for my dreams and working hard. The intention is to inspire and bring my resources to them, for whatever they want to do in life. 

JR Valrey: What is your creative process like? What inspires you to write?

Queen Deelah: My creative process looks different for every song. Sometimes I find inspiration from current events like what is happening in my personal life, or in the community. Other times I could be jamming out with my band mates from the “Stretch Musik Band”, and we come up with a song on the spot. It truly depends on the mood. I like to have the theme or concept of a song first, create the hook and flow from there.

JR Valrey: How can people get more info on your music? How can people keep up online with you?

Queen Deelah: My music is available on all streaming platforms: iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon music ect, under Queen Deelah. You can also stay connect with me on social media to find out about projects, shows, releases and more FB:/queendeelah115 

IG: @therealqueendeelah 

Twitter: @queendeelah, 

soundcloud: Queen Deelah,

Youtube: Queen Deelah. Please stay tuned there is much more to come.

 

 

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