Horsepowar is a Vancouver-based rapper. She’s been putting music out since 2013 and her new EP is slated for release this month. She raps about relationships, boys, and being a Desi girl in suburbia. Her flow sounds like she’s smacking bubble gum while she raps and her beats are thoughtful.
Nadya: Beginning at the beginning, how did you get your start rapping?
Horsepowar: I was kinda listening to Das Racist and it was like ‘Brown guys rapping?! I need to do that for brown girls!’ But if we’re going back to the beginning beginning then like sixth grade I started writing memoirs, cuz we were forced to do that in the sixth grade. (laughs)
Cuz you lived a whole lifetime by sixth grade, right?
Yeah! Mr. Miller was the best. He was cross-eyed because he got stabbed with scissors. He really inspired me to write a lot and to never run with scissors. (laughs). Yeah I started writing early, in the sixth grade, and uh I started doing performance poetry like spoken word by like the tenth grade. It was a drama assignment — we had to write a poem about ourselves and then I used to go to the café where they did spoken word. I never got up to do it because I was too nervous but after I had the piece I felt really confident about it. I started speaking at the Café Du Soleil at their Monday night Slam. And then I made the Youth Slam Team.
And then after that I started writing poetry that sounded like rap it just never had music. And then second year university I found this dude who made beats and he was just like you wanna go hard and just do it? So shout out to Spencer Brome who let me come over every single day and his mom would make me dinner and his brothers would hang out with me. And that’s how we’d record.
Spoken word and slam poetry are not the same as rap but they kinda all take on certain themes and stuff. Do you feel like you’re combining all of it or do you feel you’ve gone ‘full rap?’
I think that in my heart I’m still doing both but someone else looking at it would be like ‘this is NOT spoken word poetry.’ The spoken word sound-
Yeah, the cadence. I know what you’re talking about.
I like spoken word poetry that does not sound like spoken word poetry. So as much as I feel I like to be experimental in my rap and will add things that don’t necessarily sound like rap, I think that if anything it’s definitely more rap than spoken word.
So I was listening to ‘Sup Boy’ and ‘Definition of a Fuc Boi’ and all of those ones and I really like that but I was trying to figure out why. And I think it’s because the topics aren’t trying to be hard-hitting, which I really enjoy. I was wondering if you feel like you’re speaking to particularly feminine topics?
I think there is. I write a lot about sex. I don’t know why. It’s so easy and fun to rap about. ‘Definition of a Fuc Boi’ came out of me being frustrated about dating some loser dude. Then I put it on a Mustard beat and it was so catchy. I think they’re feminist songs but someone might argue I talk about sex too much that I’m catering to men. I’m not the type of girl who’s super politically correct, I’m just like chilling. I feel like people think that if you’re a girl rapping that you must have something super important to say but I like to be at the happy medium.
I think there’s so much bad and negativity in the world that I don’t want to spend my free fun time expressing it because other people are gonna do that. And there have been so many hardships in my life that I don’t want it to go dark like that. So I take the feminism and make it real cuz there is a struggle when you like a boy and he’s a dick and you want to have self-respect so you’re like ‘No but you’re still hot!’ So I guess I’m finding the balance between a real Desi girl and living a suburban life who hasn’t had real struggle but has gone through like death and loss and depression and anxiety. And I feel so lame for saying that but it’s the truth.