We interviewed Onika, a Trinidadian artist from Baltimore. Read on for her personal journey as a rapper.
1. Where are you from and how old are you?
My name is Onika, thats also my stage name, I'm 19 years old. I was born in Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. I have a Trinidadian background and remained connected to my roots as I grew up. I grew up in Baltimore Maryland, lived there for 10 years, so from the age of 6-17. I claim Trinidad as being where im from because of how I was raised, (both of my parents are Trinidadian) & Baltimore is my hometown so to speak beacause thats where I was raised.
2. How long have you been rapping? What made you start? Who are your inspirations? Is there any one artist that influences your style the most?
I started rapping at the age of nine, and it really started off as a coping mechanism because even at such a young age I was experiencing significant amounts of depression. The depression came from the car accident I was in at this age, the accident left scar that became the entire let side of my face. I was being called "scarface", laughed at, picked on, and I honestly felt ugly and looking at myself in the mirror became the hardest thing to do because i didnt look like me anymore. I developed an anger towards people in general and just didnt want to talk to anyone so i started writing. Stories, poetry, raps...writing was my escape and with time my writing eventually solely became poems and raps and as i started to come into myself again and started to love myself and embrace my scar (around 16) I noticed that rapping had become way more than a coping mechanism, it was something i had lived with it day in and day out, it was the bearer of every last one of my secrets. It knew me inside and out and I knew for a fact I was in love with it.
3. What do you believe separates you as an artist? What is your story?
My mom wasnt very supportive of my rap dream and we clashed often because of that, amongst other things so while I lived at home I basically developed this mindset where it was like "if even my own mom isnt supportive, who really cares what I have to say?" So I kept writing but I wasnt sharing it with the world. I kept it to myself for the most part . It's not until more recently when my family and I moved from baltimore to Waldorf Maryland (my senior year of highschool) things between me and me and my mom got to the point where as soon as I turned 18 I was out the door. After meeting up and becoming friends with other creatives i was finally in my element. I could record and create as much as my heart desired. One of your weekly contestants, Zaire Malik
, is one of the reasons why i really came out of my shell and decided not to be selfish with my art, he even provided me with unlimited access to a studio as he built his own from the ground up. So as far as inspirations go he is definitely my biggest one. Then I have the celebrity inspirations, the people I want to be a part of the same conversation as: Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, No name Gypsy, J.cole, Nas, I mean the list is really extensive but those are the names that come to mind right now.
I would say what makes me different from other artists it the fact that rap isn't my "come up" first and foremost its the love of my life even though the goal is to make money doing what I love. So when I make music my mindset isnt "oh I hope people like this or yeah this song is gonna get me put on" its more so "I like this song, I like the way it made me feel after I wrote it." And I think that really sets me apart because nowadays no one sounds like themselves, they sound like whatever or whoever is hot at the moment. People don't do it for the love anymore, they do it for the money or the fame .
4. Do you have any song or project out right now that you are trying to promote? What is special about it, what is it about, and what helped you write it?
As far as any of my latest releases I dropped my first EP on the the 11th of January (my birthday) entitled Black Pussy Supremacy. Its 3 tracks long..the first track is called "Black" and its a socially conscious piece, the second track is "Pussy" and its my favorite its one of my more poetic songs (despite the name) and the third track is "Supremacy" and thats basically the turnup song and my reasoning behind dropping this EP was mostly to generate feedback..to see if my methods in making songs that I like could actually connect with other people who may even feel the same way as me. My goal was to atleast let people know that im coming, like be on the lookout for me. What helped me write it is basically what helps me wrote everything else, I write down whats in my head, every thought, emotion, feeling, I give all of it to the music. (Only thing is I was just so happy to put my first project out I didnt wait to get it mastered so the version thats out on soundcloud isnt mastered or anything but I have the masters now I figure ill rerelease it soon enough.)
5. Are you currently working on anything? When is it estimated to be released and what can we expect from it/you in the future?
There is another project in the works and its going to be titled "Scarface". I haven't settled on a release date yet though but i've been leaning towards sometime in September.
6. Is there anything else you'd like people to know about you or your music?
I am a cofounder of A Higher Place Productions (AHP) [which] is a Multimedia entertainment group ... basically a collective of artists myself and the founder (Zaire Malik) have come across with extrodinary talents from producing, to singing, to cinematography, video editing, etc. We use our skills to help eachother reach that higher place. Which brings me to the meaning behind the name...a lot of people assume its about weed, but what a higher place is actually a lifestyle, always moving, always progressing. There is no highest place or peak because there is always room for growth and improvement so we're constantly trying to reach a place higher than where we once were.
Check out Onika here:
Check out AHP here: