Xolisa is a spectacle to watch and listen to. A very good example of an artist dedicated to her craft, the Toronto lyricist prepares to pull you into her experience opening for New York artist, Nitty Scott MC at Can I Live this Thursday.
Can I Live is a charity that fundraises for medical costs that began from a young bone marrow cancer patient in 2012. Since then, the charity continues to raise money and produce shows that give artists a chance to express the reasons why they live.
We thought we plug into the decorated Fundamental Woman of DOPE herself through our Q & A to see what inspires Xolisa.
Read the full interview below.
Introduce yourself and tell us why you make music?
Peace World! My name is Xolisa – pronounced koh-lee-sah. I am a Toronto based emcee and producer and I make music because I do believe it is the purpose of my creativity, my mind, my energy, power and abilities- to create music that is made to move the masses and spread something positive and honest and help me grow into the woman I was made to be, all the while.
What has had the greatest influence on your art, why do you live?
My own personal journey and the journey of those around me – those have had the greatest influences on my art.
I write and produce music that is a reflection to what I am personally working through in my own life at any given moment and music that is a reflection of what this society is working through and being faced with as a whole.
I’ve said it before, I am an introspective person by nature- always have been. So telling the stories of what I am observing and solving mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically comes natural to me. Telling the stories of what is going on outside of me within my community, my city, my country not to mention the world overall- that is where my influence has been coming from as of late. I know there is a need for me to tell the stories of my surroundings and that is where I’m at.
I live because I’ve been given the opportunity to. Every single day I wake up, it’s another chance to work, to dream, to pursue, to heal, to forgive, to grow, to smile, to do something better for myself and my loved ones- on the flip side it’s also another chance to hold onto anger, to hurt, to suffer, to hurt others, to be destructive, to spread negativity, etc.
Day after day, for the last 26 years, I’ve been given the opportunity to see another day and I’m just trying to choose that first option because eventually, one day- I will not be given that opportunity to choose how I want to live. I live because I have an opportunity to.
What does it mean to you to be opening for Nitty Scott?
Being a part of the opening line up for Nitty means a few things to me.
For starters, what I appreciate most about this show in particular is the fact that you have 5 individuals all speaking the same language (Hip Hop) – in their own dialect. Not only does this show mean giving a dope performance, but as an audience member, as a woman of Hip Hop, it’s getting an opportunity to stand back and watch these 4 other artists speak their dialect in what I expect to be a full throttle performance with no apologies.
Our styles are so different, yet at the end of the day we are dressing up for the same ball. I love that. And to know I get to be a part of that conversation, that I get to unapologetically speak this conversation of Hip Hop in the ways that make me, me…in the sound, the vibe, the energy, the essence that makes Xolisa, Xolisa- man, just sitting here thinking about it alone is getting me pumped up.
Being an opening act for this show also brings on a sense of responsibility for me. Every opportunity I get to perform, there is a responsibility that I believe I have. I have a responsibility to myself, to make sure I “tap in” and get to that higher space and give what is me and let my light shine. I have a responsibility to my listeners to execute the body of music they have come to connect with and I have a responsibility to spread the messages that I am rapping about to my audience. When I’m in line ups where I find myself to be the only woman, I feel those responsibilities mentioned become even more important than they already stand to be. I feel the need to really represent as a woman, as a black woman and I don’t take that lightly.
Lastly, being an opener for this show allows me to connect to an artist I admire. A woman who I don’t know much about, yet have already found many correlations and parallel’s with. I was first introduced to Nitty via this show- before this opportunity I hadn’t heard of her, or her music. Me being the researcher I am, I took the time to listen to her music, learn more about her story yet intentionally leave a lot of the available information and music that we’re privy to because of the internet, alone so I could experience what I need to experience through meeting Nitty in person, and seeing her perform live.
For the things that Nitty chooses to fight for, stand for and believe in – I respect that.
I respect her journey and the ups and downs she has faced in and out of music and to know that I have an opportunity to share a stage with Nitty, it’s not only me getting to learn from someone who has been doing this for a longer period of time than myself, but it’s an opportunity to build, connect and vibe. It’s something I think women struggle with a lot of the time- the ability to show love, receive love and genuinely support other women. I myself have struggled with it before. I’m just glad to be in the mind state, the spiritual state and the state of my passion for what I do, to be able to see this as a dope opportunity to build a new connection through music with a woman who is working hard to do what she wants to do and achieve all that she wants and rightfully deserves.
Tell us more about your latest release?
My latest release is my 2nd self-produced EP entitled, “Rhyme Until My Spirit Needs No Words To Fly”. It’s dark, it’s introspective, it’s raw, it’s my most honest piece of work to this date and a lot of the music from that ep will be performed at this show. “Rhyme Until…” is my personal journey inward and marks the territory for one of the most vulnerable moments in my journey thus far.
Steam “Rhyme Until My Spirit Needs No Words To Fly” below.
Why should people come see you at Can I Live, what should they expect?
Yes you reading this interview should come out to see me do what I do at Can I Live? Because there is an experience to be had. An experience that even I get high off of, time and time again.
I got something to say, something that you need to hear, something that you need to feel and that exchange of energy is right there, for you to be a part of- if you choose to. Expect honesty, expect change, expect uncomfort, expect familiarity, expect me to live my purpose before your eyes – as I’d expect and hope to see you living yours, before mine.
Can I Live takes place This Thursday at Lee’s Palace [ 529 Bloor St. ]. $20 advanced tickets are still available on Can-I-Live.com. Doors open at 9pm and are $25.
Do you have anything else to add?
With or without you, dopeness will be had under the Lee’s Palace roof come August 20th, 2015.
Some will decide to be a part of that experience, others won’t. Either way, know that the artists set to touch that stage are charging up, are building, are ready to unleash their energy and come together to speak this language – Hip Hop.
You can RSVP to Can I Live here.
Featured Photo By: Chantal Rose
Interviewer: John Samuels