Interview: Mikaela Rachal
I think music is art which depicts life so there are truths about stereotypes which must be expressed if our culture is to maintain its artistic integrity. However, it is the way in which these images are presented and glorified in combination with the absence of an equal alternative that is deeply dissatisfying.
Mikaela Rachal has appeared in a number of television shows including NYPD Blue, The Young and the Restless and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation to name a few. She has also appeared in a few short films which have included Rampage Superstar and Dead Man’s Hour. Besides being a actress Rachal, also sings and raps. In a recent interview she talked about surviving in the mostly male-dominated hip hop industry.
BSN: So it is often said that hip hop is a male dominated industry. As a woman within the hip hop industry what new and fresh ideas do you feel you bring to the industry?
MR: I bring myself and my approach; Who I am, what I do and how I do it. I am a beautiful, intelligent and ambitious ethnic woman. By following self, a raw and real uniqueness is expressed which is of significant value. Females are constantly told they have to play the back role and I don’t buy that. I say it’s no different than in any business; if you believe and are willing to work hard, you can get it for yourself, your way. How can you not respect that?
“I’m that kind gon do it her way / Don’t mind the grind shoulda done it in the first place / Worst case, I’m on top / It’s a lot but I give it all I got..” From big girls don’t cry.
BSN: How did you become involved with a career in hip hop?
MR: As a kid my family moved a lot and no one ever really got along. I found solace in writing; letters, journal entries, poems. I wrote a few raps here and there just messing around but it wasn’t until 99, during the last female hip-hop onslaught, when I decided I too could be an MC. With Nas’ ‘If I Ruled The World’ as a guide, I wrote and practiced my first rhymes. I haven’t stopped since. It's a process but every chance I get, I’m taking my game to the next level in whatever area is necessary.
“Everyday gotta step it up a level / Ain’t doing nothing if I don’t get better / Hey, what can I say, I’m such a rebel / Something crazy in me; I just can’t settle.” From hello good morning remix.
BSN: Being a woman in hip hop what type of treatment have you received from men within the industry?
MR: Oh goodness. If I have to be honest, it’s mostly doubt, discouragement and manipulation. Men like to dictate and I have my own path and opinions which I’m not afraid to share. It’s unfortunate that men can be so insecure. People are funny, but you have to brush it off so you can appreciate and stay focused on the support and encouragement that is there.
BSN: Although we have artist such as Nicki Minaj enjoying massive success within mainstream hip hop, it is still seem as really difficult for women to break into the entertainment industry. Why do you feel those challenges still exist, even with the current success of female rappers like Nicki Minaj?
MR: I think the entertainment industry is just difficult to break into period. Trying to participate at the highest level in any field brings fierce competition. At the end of the day, it’s still a man’sworld. To get ahead, you have to be tough like a man, but smart enough to know how to use being a woman to your advantage--and I don’t mean exploiting your sexuality. It’s like walking a tightrope, not everyone’s gonna make it accross.
BSN: What is your opinion concerning stereotypical images imposed on women within the hip hop industry?
MR: I think music is art which depicts life so there are truths about stereotypes which must be expressed if our culture is to maintain its artistic integrity. However, it is the way in which these images are presented and glorified in combination with the absence of an equal alternative that is deeply dissatisfying.
BSN: Another issue seen amongst women in hip hop is the differences of management and control when it comes to the direction of their careers. In which ways do you feel that women who are starting out in hip hop can take control of their own careers?
MR: Just as in life, you take control by knowing who you are and being clear on what you want. Staying focused on what’s important to you and surrounding yourself with people who are going to support your vision will keep you on your path.
BSN: Who are some women in the hip hop industry that you admire and who inspire you?
MR: All the originals: Roxanne, Latifah, MC Lyte, these are women who didn’t take any crap. Eve and Lauryn Hill. True artists, they brought their issues and ideas to the table through creative expression with no apologies. They remind me I can be who I am and have an impact.
BSN: What advice would you give to women trying to make it within the hip hop industry?
MR: Remember your individuality. Be clear about what you want and are willing to accept. Never let anyone or anything overshadow your truth. Stay focused and keep moving forward.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."