The best way of countering all the misogyny in hip-hop music is to become a strong, empowered female rapper.
Mwahahaha! That’s the diabolical revenge plot of Tamra Nash and her on-stage alter-ego, Ms. Teaze.
For the past seven years, the popular Red Deer MC has been performing her own powerful, pro-female rhymes about overcoming bullying, poor self-image and depression. In the process, she’s gained the respect of some heavy-duty male rappers.
Since 2011 Ms.Teaze has opened for Wu-Tang, Snak The Ripper, Moka Only, Apathy, Swollen Members, and Tech N9ne and many others.
Her energetic live performances have helped stoke Red Deer’s vibrant hip-hop scene and have silenced a lot of the bias she initially encountered as a rare female in the field.
“I often was looked at ‘….hmmm this is a girl hip-hop artist?’ and as soon as I went on stage they were blown away!” said Nash. “I definitely had to push my way through the scene to get respect.”
Her music on YouTube has reach fans from all over the world. Ms. Teaze, who regularly plays in Edmonton and Calgary, is grateful for all the support.
Next month, she will be performing at Alberta Music’s hip-hop Awards in Edmonton. “I should have been nominated, but I was selected as a performer,” joked Nash, who also looks forward to three upcoming local gigs:
• On Friday, Aug. 19, Ms. Teaze will perform outdoors with dozens of other indie musicians at Ourfest at the Tail Creek Race Way in Nevis. (Tickets $65 from www.ourfest.ca).
• On Sunday, Aug. 21, she’ll be in a 7 p.m. diverse lineup at the Universoul fundraiser to raise awareness of mental illness at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer. (Tickets $10 from www.universoullifestyle.com).
• And on Saturday, Sept. 3, Ms. Teaze will be open at 9 p.m. for rappers Merkules and Prada West at the Scott Block. (Tickets $22.50 from the artists, or at the door).
“I grew up with a strong work ethic,” hence the busy schedule, said the 30-year-old rapper. While Nash also works as a fitness assistant at the Collicutt Centre, she added “I’m very passionate about my music.”
She was swept up by the emotional power of hip-hop while growing up in north Red Deer. Some of her biggest influences were New York-area rappers Nas and Jadakiss. But Mariah Carey and Prince tunes were also be played around the house when her mother wasn’t labouring long hours at Michener Centre to raise three children as a single parent.
You don’t have to grow up on the mean streets of Detroit to know deprivation. Nash said although her mom “worked day and night to make ends meet… we were poor…
“As soon as I was 12 years old, I’d be knocking on people’s doors asking if I could shovel their snow or rake their leaves just so I could eat.”
She used to put on a steely front while attending classes at Normandeau and Lindsay Thurber. While her tune This is Me (featuring local singer Mandy) speaks out against bullying, “I believe in keeping things real,” said Nash, who not only felt pushed around at times while growing up, but also could have been perceived as being a bully.
Nash realized her talent for music after her friend Travis Omen, of the Red Deer-formed band Midwest Mindset, recorded her first track, Brighter Days at his home studio. She rushed home to play it for her family: “I put it on CD player and my grandma started crying…”
It was her first clue that her music could profoundly affect people.
Her tune Let Me Start Again is about dealing with loss. The Last Laugh is about finding yourself. Nash believes too many people lose themselves in relationships or work, then feel worthless after a break-up or job lay-off.
Her latest EP, Unity, Empowerment, Respect, sold out last week when Nash mailed the last copy to a fan in B.C. “Now I’m hungry to make a new album.”
Meanwhile, she will continue to perform at schools and at various charitable events because she believes in giving back.