The 405 meets Gita
I'm stooped in the stairwell of a derelict townhouse on the set of Gita's latest video shoot. Someone ushers me out the way as they pass with a fishbowl and a statue of the Virgin Mary. A pink-haired, latex-clad, 22 year old twerks two floors up, before splashing around in a bath full of paint. Although more conventional than the trippy videos for 'Hood Rich' and 'Let That', the visual for 'Mardi Gras' retains some of Gita's trademark eccentricity as it explosively marries her "don't fuck with" attitude to her playful side. When we sit down together the following day, I'm lucky to get the latter, Gita giggling her way through much of our interview as we talked Digital Underground, anime, Twitter, L$D and tomboys.
"So what's new with the track 'Mardi Gras'?" I ask Gita. "'Mardi Gras' is definitely more energetic than the other stuff I've done. 'Hood Rich' was very laid back with that West Coast 90's rap filter to it. This is more dancey and brings more attitude, seeing as I worked with Darq E Freaker on the sound. ASL Records had an interest in collaborating with me and they're based in London. They thought 'Mardi Gras' would be a great opportunity to bring me over and do a visual here. The video's more extreme than my others… you know, like, sexy and shit." Cue latex designs courtesy of MEAT clothing.
Hailing from Harlem but originally from Oakland, I ask Gita where she's "from". She proves firmly rooted on the west coast, "Oakland's like a community for me, it's where my family is, where I grew up." But it's this particular blend of East/West that seems to set her apart; Gita possesses the tongue in cheek lyrics and playful style of West Coast girls like Brooke Candy and Kreayshawn, but cuts a harder edge like Azealia Banks or Wavy Spice when she delivers. In what is undoubtedly a prolific time for emerging female rappers (with coloured hair, apparently), I figure Gita must get tired of comparisons drawn to people like Nicki Minaj, so ask her what sets her apart. She looks back to look forward;
"I didn't grow up just watching rap on TV, I grew up with a parent in the industry, I grew up around rappers. My dad used to co-manage Digital Underground in the late 80s and a lot of other Bay Area acts and rappers like Richie Rich and Luniz. I watched them write their records and albums. I would say being exposed to that, as opposed to seeing it on TV, you're gonna wanna do that shit, you're gonna think "man I'm supposed to do that shit." But getting crazy with the bitches and booties and blunt, drinking 40s and shit, that's fucking played out. It's played out. Hip-hop's been around for almost 40 years now. I think it's time to step it up from the cliché rapper shit, its time to get real creative about how to display the art form."
"You gotta keep it playful" Gita tells me, attributing her penchant for manga references in her videos to a love of anything fantasy and cartoon; "people get wrapped up in the reality of day to day real world shit and my personality is a bit all over the place. The anime is an escape." There's no doubt that Gita has a good sense of humour too, a case in point being that trippy "L$D" video she did with Kreayshawn, Grimes and Lady Tragik back in 2012. "Ah yeah that was crazy" she tells me, "Me and Kreayshawn go back to 2006 but I met Lady Tragik last year. We're all from the same scene back home in San Francisco, but that was my first time hanging out with Claire (Boucher-Grimes), she's so cool and so cute. We just had a girlie day you know, getting frickin' slushies from Seven Eleven and going thrift store shopping."
Gita's industry links don't end there, back in New York she kicks it with Venus X and the A$AP crew. I ask her what she thinks of the NYC hip-hop scene right now, particularly all the queer hip-hop happening, guys like Mykki Blanco, Le1f… "Back in the day if you had dudes dressing like women but rapping hardcore they'd have gotten all sorts of shit in the alley. I think it's a very open time right now though, there's a crowd that appreciates hip-hop that don't wanna see a guy that's thugged out, they wanna see someone nearer who they are."
And what of female rappers like her, Azealia Banks and Angel Haze, who are openly into chicks? "It just so happens that the majority of us are bisexual or whatever. We are a group of females in the male dominated field of hip-hop and rap, and I think it's empowering when women can say, "fuck the dishes and cleaning the house, I can wear the pants too" … I've always been that way, I've always been a tomboy, rebellious and not doing the cliché girly shit." Conscious of artists shirking the word, I straight up ask her if she would consider herself a feminist. She smiles and gives me a "yes". Good girl.
Gita seems to have her head screwed on a bit tighter than some of her contemporaries; when I ask her whether she thinks it's an artist's responsibility nowadays to have an internet presence, to be producing "content" for their fans, she responds, "I do think it is important for artists to have that media presence, but I'm not really into that oversaturated bullshit when artists spill their guts about shit or are on Twitter saying negative things, it gets ugly. The internet is a dangerous place, people act like you can't get in some bad things but you can. I just try to focus on my music and my craft and keep it positive."