Throughout Hip Hop history, female MCs have typically lacked a platform for self-expression on an executive level. But as the internet generation pushes for a more DYI mentality, women within the culture are starting to shift away from the male-controlled machine.
One example of this is San Francisco native Blimes Brixton (formerly known as Oh Blimey). For the past several years, she’s transitioned from buzzing battle rapper to one of the leaders of Hip Hop’s rise in LGBTQ artists. Taking things further, Brixton has already released a few projects through her own Peach House label. This year, she plans on dropping her debut under her new moniker titled Castles featuring banging lead single “Ask Forgiveness.”
Someone like Brixton isn’t supposed to work. She’s female, white, gay and curvy. Taking her own destiny by the throat and spitting real rhymes like no other, Brixton is more than proving she’s in this for the long haul.
When HipHopDX visits her home in Los Angeles’ Jefferson Park district, she’s literally handling construction alongside her female roommates. The space serves not only as a roof but houses an office and light photography studio. That’s when reality sets in that she’s in full control of her ship. Could this be a blueprint for how female MCs run their operation?
Speaking with Brixton, she explains why that may be a real possibility, along with how her creative and business transformation led to Castles.
Time Spent Battle Rapping Led To Name Change
HipHopDX: How are you feeling today?
Blimes Brixton: Feeling really strong and finding my way and myself. I have clarity right now and it’s hard to come by in the working rush and working class of music. That clear vision of what you want is hard to come by.
DX: The first time I saw you perform was 2013 at Broke LA when it was still being called Brokechella. You were going by Oh Blimey at the time. A few years later, you have your own label and you’ve changed your name as well.
Blimes Brixton: I think for a while, I knew there was a change coming. I gained a lot of followers and popularity based off my time as a battle rapper. I used to be involved in battle rap. And, pretty much, I woke up two years into battle rap and realized that I was kind of unhappy. I was pretty unhappy. I was picking myself apart based on preparation for battles. When you’re about to go at your opponent, you’re always thinking about what they’re going to say about you and how you’re going to tear them down. I was just becoming caught up in a world of negative thoughts. None of that had to do with the person I am. I’m very much a positive person and all inviting. I preach hard work, unity and effort. I’m about bettering oneself and moving my craft along. Being in battle rap was very negative and I was caught up in this place where it’s all about gun bars, how you’re going to murder somebody and every single insult you can come up with about a person. That’s fake and not me. I make music and had my entire life ahead of me. That was my original path.
At some point, I was going to have to leave it behind and close that door. Oh Blimey was that person. Blimes Brixton doesn’t forget who Oh Blimey was, but Blimes Brixton is an evolved version of myself. I’m working through past relationships and habits. I’m growing into what I’d like to think of as a real song maker or artist.
DX: You’re still spitting though so it’s not like that part ever left.
Blimes Brixton: In this day and age, there’s so much internet involved in music that you have to come with it. When I put out something that’s mostly singing, people are going to be like ‘Blimes went soft.’ If you want something hard, I got you. It’s hard to choose a lane when I want to do so much with who I am. I’m very sensitive, but can be cutthroat at the same time. I’m listening to what the internet is saying and answering.
DX: You have Peach House as well.
Blimes Brixton: I was going through a lot of names and I used to graffiti back in San Francisco where I grew up. Peach used to be my last moniker I would write. It’s always been a symbol of feminism. The peach, the booty. I want to run this label starting in my house and watch it evolve and grow. This is where it started. Peach House records is really a platform to me. The term record label is extremely professional and that’s what I want my reputation to be. But, I want to moreso open it for a platform or place for people to come build. It’s pretty much all female-run and every project we’ve put out is females so far.
I want it to be a place where girls can come and showcase their work whether it be music, video work, photo work or writing poetry. We want engineers, producers and platform for girls to shine. I want girls to be able to say that we built this. We didn’t need anybody’s help. I think that’s really important. We released Gavlyn’s Make Up For Your Break Up. We released a single by Olivia Braga, who is an amazing singer. You’ve probably heard her singing backup on Anderson .Paak. She’s raw and on the come up for sure.
It’s a place for me to put my music out. It’s a home. For a long time, I kind of bounced around with asking people to check out my stuff. Some people were interested in me putting out projects and singles on their label, but it’s always their vision. For me, Peach House is my vision. I can put out what I want to put out.
DX: Any difficulties in running an all-female label?
Blimes Brixton: People always underestimate you. We get a lot of “advice.” You’re seeing what we’re doing but you want to give your two cents because you think that we’re not capable? It’s the question that comes to mind but the goal is to give products that are well thought out. A brand that’s strong enough to where people barely feel it’s necessary to give “advice.”
Another downer to running an all-female operation is that beyond stereotypes, there are a lot of emotions involved. There’s tons of emotion involved. Business and emotions don’t necessarily mix but learning to draw that line between business and emotions has been a real lesson since starting the label. You have to understand not to take things personally and be possessive. You have to learn how to put the blinders on and put the tunnel vision on. Instead of bending over backward 100 percent of the time for everybody else, you have to figure out how to do that within your limitations so you can do what’s needed to get done. That’s been a huge lesson. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. The administrative stuff to me is like second nature. I want to work and build the whole image. To me, I really love it.
Blimes Brixton Explains Upcoming Castles Album & The Best Thing About LA’s Hip Hop Scene
DX: 2017 is looking good for you right now, eh?
Blimes Brixton: I have a Blimes Brixton album on the way. It’ll be my first solo album under my new moniker. Hella honest music. The last five years in Hip Hop have made it a lot more easy to do. Being honest with lyrics is just cool. You can be yourself, talk about vulnerabilities and struggle in a way that’s not too glitzy and glamorous. I’m really excited to open up to everyone with that.
“Ask Forgiveness” will be the first single and it’ll be on my album Castles. It’s about building. I don’t want to say “empire” and over exaggerate. It’s about building this home or castle for myself. It’s about putting the brick in piece by piece. It’s about walls I had to build up to be successful. You have to protect yourself and put those walls up. It’s hella autobiographical. I think that’s important for people to hear. I would say around six months from now is when we drop. It’s nowhere near done but it’s getting there. My last project was with Gavlyn last year called Dodgy. It was a five song EP and Castles is going to be a vibey, wavy project.
DX: I know the video for “Ask Forgiveness” was shot in the South of France alongside the video for your collaboration with French rapper Saknes on “Dis Moi.”
Blimes Brixton: That’s a long story but I’m going to break it down as quickly as I can. Gavlyn and I toured in Europe two years ago. We did a 25-city tour in 30 days. We made hella French connections, friends and fans. One of the tours we did, we ended up linking with a DJ named DJ Venom. I put out on the internet that I was going back to France on vacation with my girl to visit her family. He told me he had a friend who was a rapper who wanted to work with me. So, he linked us up on the feature. I was in the south of France and Saknes was in Loire, which is around eight hours train ride. Saknes had his video guy out there to shoot the video and they agreed to shoot the video for “Ask Forgiveness” as well. It was a trade. It was a dope linkup. It was incredible man. We shot two videos in one day. We shot the video for “Dis Moi” the morning after we recorded it. It was literally a 48-hour endeavor. We linked up on mutually wanting to get shit done.
DX: You grew up in the Bay Area before you made Los Angeles home for the past six years. What’s the difference between both scenes in regards to Hip Hop that you’ve noticed?
Blimes Brixton: Being from the Bay is different. I mean that in the best way possible. It’s almost a bubble. You don’t realize that the rest of the world isn’t there for each other the way that they are back home. I grew up in such a diverse environment and such a welcoming unified environment where people got each other and understood. I went to public school in the middle of San Francisco where everyone was working class. All of my homies went after school and played with each other no matter where everyone lived. If I went to one of my homies’ house after school in the projects, my mom was cool with it as long as she checked in with parents. Everybody was fucking close. That was something that I missed down here.
When I came down here, I realized that everyone was trying to rise to the top in a sea of people trying to do the same thing. There’s a very drawn out explanation and it’s going to get there I promise. Coming from a place full of very empathetic people where we knew what it’s like to stand in each other’s shoes to a place where nobody cares what shoes felt like was really different to me. I’ve been lucky enough to find really cool groups of people out here. Finding this group has been vital because my friends from out here are so worried about who they’re going to be and making it that they don’t have time to worry about other people. Not that I’m knocking LA because this is where I needed to be to make things happen. One thing that’s really dope is that LA pushes you to be the hardest working person you can be because if you’re not going to do it, somebody else is going to do it twice as good.
The best thing about LA’s rap scene is you can get some of everything. You got every type of rapper here. It’s so funny that rap has grown into having so many sub-genres. I literally feel weird saying I’m a rapper because I can’t explain what kind of rapper I am because there are so many sub-genres. You can pick any event and get a different kind of sub-genre of Hip Hop. It’s hella tight. You can go to Bananas and get all of the cats that are on the come-up trying to make it and maybe Kendrick Lamar might pop in or the cast of Insecure. You can go to a Ham On Everything party and see the most ignorant crazy trap stuff. You’ll go to a dope show in The Valley and see some really great Latino rappers. You can go to Hollywood and get your mainstream rappers like Tyga or whoever. That’s the dopest part about the scene. I’m so into R&B and Soul. I can go to KING, Tiffany Gouche, The Internet, Syd shows all the time.
Young M.A & The Future Of LGBTQ Rappers
DX: I’m a big fan of Tiffany and KING.
Blimes Brixton: I love seeing girls doing it. It’s been so tight to see girls in the mainstream that aren’t so tied into gender norms that aren’t locked into presenting sexuality first. It’s been so dope to see that in the last year really.
DX: One of the biggest breakout moments last year was Young M.A. How do you feel about the acceptance she’s gotten as an LGBTQ artist yourself?
Blimes Brixton: That “Headphanie” line was so dope. She reminds me so much of myself when I was younger in the best way. That isn’t me being on some high horse shit at all. I just used to be more raw and not give a fuck at all. I use to say the nastiest shit. She’s so clever with it though because she can say the nastiest shit with a metaphor that doesn’t even sound nasty. She’s tight. It took me a minute to catch on.
DX: She’s like the first open butch rapper to get real mainstream love.
Blimes Brixton: I’m happy about it. Mad it wasn’t me. I’m happy because it’s dope to see people investing in that and taking a risk. I always felt the burden of my sexuality being a risk to people. I wasn’t the mainstream look. I don’t have any backing and didn’t grow up with money. Every person who ever showed interest in backing my career were put off by my sexuality and I felt the burden of that for a long time. It’s dope to see people putting the leaf behind people not based on sexuality. It’s not based on getting on stage and showing hella ass and titties or rapping about fucking hella dudes. It’s tight to see people put down the walls that we’ve created in our brains around sexuality. I see a shift and I was nervous that it wasn’t going to happen in my time. I’m happy to see that shift. However, I still think our job isn’t done. I think a lot of why I was put on this earth was to break down stereotypes. We, me and you, have a lot more in common that we won’t realize if we don’t open that part of our brain up. There’s a lot to be done as far as judgments and people distancing themselves. I think the floodgates are open and we’ll be able to break down walls.