Hop Hop, a rapper from Birmingham, Alabama, who now lives in Buffalo, New York, creates a mix between rap and hip-hop. She says, “people ask about my style and I don’t even know what to say.” She grew up playing the bass, but she now focuses on delivering her lyrics in performance. Hop Hop spoke with me about her inspirations, goals, and creative process for her most recent project, Scratch - EP.
Hop Hop shared that her process is predictably unpredictable. She said her creative patterns bear no pattern: “my process is not to have a process…it’s totally chaotic.” For Hop Hop, the chaos in the beginning of Scratch - EP was a collection of samples, brief melodic patches that trapped themselves within her ear. On “Mister Sandman,” she samples the song from Golden Girls, a show she used to watch with her sisters, mother, and grandmother. In “Spoonin,” Hop Hop samples a 1935 Humpty Dumpty cartoon that her grandfather recorded and gifted to her on VCR. Hop Hop said that she usually creates the draft of the song, then sends it to Brandon at Steak & Cake Records, and she asks him: “What’s missing?” Brandon then mixes and polishes the song. That’s the process: she consumes a collection of audio bites, waits for something to stick, creates the draft and bounces it around with her production partner at Steak & Cake Records.
Hop Hop also shared a bit about what she hopes to accomplish with her music. She started playing in order to “share a piece of [her] humanity.” She said,“people see that I’m light skin, thin…people think I’m all put together.” The world is wrong. Hop Hop told me the comical truth; she said, “my brain is in a vortex, it’s just, it’s just, it’s just [laughs].” She told me she wants to normalize the fact that life blows its winds in all directions and makes a mess. She said, “I want other people to feel comfortable in their mess.” In other words, Hop Hop wants to connect with you; to validate whatever mess you feel, to tell you things will be alright.
Not every musician can be this honest. In fact, the ultra-famous musicians that catch national spotlight are often the best at hiding the chaos of their bodies and their minds. They are the musicians who erase their humanity. Hop Hop mentioned Beyoncé and again, revealed an honest human truth: “Beyoncé — her poopoo stinks too — ” People see Beyoncé as an immutable Pop Goddess because the media will promote this illusion of divinity as long as it profits. However, someday, the voice of a goddess will crack and her skin will wrinkle. The illusion dissolves. Like you, like me, someday Beyoncé will die. Despite the truth, mainstream American Media will continue to say that perfect physical and mental features are attainable.
So, what happens when a rapper (when Hop Hop) does not claim perfection or absolute beauty? What happens when a rapper focuses on the raw representation of her problems? Hop Hop looks put together on the outside, but instead of embodying her shell and nothing else, she explores the distance between how people see her, and how she sees herself. She excavates the different voices that populate her mind, and offers the microphone to them. The refrain of “Scratch” articulates her goals and emotions: “I need room to be the whole mess that I am I / won’t be defined by ideals of a man.”
In the coming months, Hop Hop will produce a music video for “Scratch,” more solo music, new beats, and another tour. Hop Hop told me, “If I could be on tour every day of my life, I would do it.” Nonetheless, she doesn’t tour perpetually because (like you, like me) she is a mere mortal. She toils away at her DAW, collects samples from old compact disks and videocassettes, trashes ideas, synthesizes ideas and shares her work when it is finished. Her music will not deceive you with immaculate polish, but rather, it will reveal the depth of a surface, scratched.
Stream Hop Hop on Spotify.
Originally posted on UndergroundSailboat.com