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For awhile the phrase “Where are the female emcees?” was a common lament in hip-hop’s more conscious corners. To utter that phrase now one would have to be either blatantly patronizing, willfully misinformed, or both. No matter where you fall upon the rap music taste spectrum, there are new female voices eliciting head nods and satisfied grimaces of approval. Artists like Cardi B, Rapsody, Tierra Whack, and Sa-Roc—to name a few—are expanding the definition of what a female rapper can be to the point where new and exciting feminine hip-hop manifestations are emerging with unprecedented frequency.
San Francisco’s Blimes Brixton and Seattle’s Gifted Gab are part of this resurgent wave of women defying rules and patriarchal expectations. Both Blimes and Gab were known quantities in underground rap before joining forces on the song “Come Correct.” But the video, which has almost 10 million views, shot them into another stratosphere.
In that video, it is easy to spot the rare intangible known as chemistry. The synergistic vibe Blimes and Gab share while tossing bars back and forth harkens back to spine-tingling rap duos like Ghost and Rae or Styles P and Jadakiss.
We talked to Blimes and Gab, collectively known as B.A.G about their ascent to the top, navigating the male-dominated genre of rap, and—of course—weed.
Hey you two, we’re big fans who saw you on your viral video “Come Correct” and have been hooked ever since. Before we get into the progress of your new project, where are you guys at right now?
Blimes Brixton: We’re in Seattle right now filming a video. It’s Gab’s hometown.
Gab, talk a little bit about your stomping grounds. How is it as a city for aspiring rappers?
Gifted Gab: I would say it’s cool; it’s a very fast growing city and quickly changing. You guys are in the Bay right? So you can relate to all the gentrification. There’s tech shit everywhere that’s trying to take over the heart our city. But the music scene is still great. The only thing that isn’t amazing is that there aren’t great platforms here for artists so you sometimes have to put yourself out there and make the platforms yourself.
It’s all artist-ran—from blogs to promotions. It’s cool because everyone knows everyone, but at the same time, it’s hard to get those major magazine and radio station outlets. And like, we all have to work extra hard out here. It requires you to work. I feel like it’s a bit harder to make it out here than if it were LA or Atlanta or something. You gotta do what you need to do here just like anywhere else to flourish. That’s where I am right now.
We know you guys were doing your own respective things in your home scenes before you two met. How did you two originally connect?
Blimes: We met through the beautiful world of the internet. I had heard of Gab from a collaborator of mine, Gavlyn, who is from LA and we’re very close friends. Gab and I just quickly became friends on Facebook after she dropped a record.
When I was out here in Seattle visiting, I just hit her up to get to know each other and we had a really wild night and immediately hit it off. We ended up having an amazing night in Seattle. That was the first time we met.
And shortly after you guys made “Come Correct”?
Blimes: Yeah, like the second or third time we met we did “Come Correct” because it was just great chemistry right away. We had a bond, a friendship, and trust that helped us create so freely in the lab. Especially if you’re just trading bars, you have to trust the other person.
Has the song and all the quick rush popularity changed your life?
Gab: We dropped the song kind of early and just put it out on the internet, but it didn’t get traction until we dropped the video. Then it blew the fuck up. I don’t think any of us had plans for it to go viral. We were obviously blown away, but since we’ve been doing this for so long we just took it in stride. We were just us doing us. So we’re business savvy as well as seasoned artists so when it went viral we knew how to work it. And since then, we’re doing all these big shows with artists we look up to and all these larger festivals and it’s all because we knew how to keep it going and hop on the moment.
Blimes: Yeah we dropped the video on a Friday at 8pm which is like marketing suicide, but by Sunday it had millions[of views]. We were surprised and people were calling for us to work together.
Have you always been this actively attentive to your fans?
Blimes: I think the struggle for a lot of artists is knowing and gauging what their fans want. But for us we just did what the people were telling us to do. So if that fan base is there for us then we need to give them what they showed up for. So that’s why we’re making this B.A.G. album.
We are so glad to hear about the album and the work you’re putting into it. Speaking of your work, rap is more often than not, a man’s game. How much misogynistic bullshit do you have to deal with?
Gab: Hip-hop is a male-dominated industry, so like with any other industry that’s male-dominated, you’re gonna have to deal with assholes. It one of those things that comes with the territory. We’re also built for it though. And it’s also an opportunity to turn some bullshit into comedy for us. Like, I’ve responded to comments before, but I actually don’t really respond to DMs much anymore. What I hate most at the moment, being women and being in the position we’re in, is the sheer amount of dick pics we get. I don’t even pay attention to the chauvinistic comments.
Blimes: All that stuff is just petty shit to me. My main issue is the amount of pay compared to males. I’ve done my research and besides all that, I have male artist friends of mine where we have the same followers, same amount of people at our shows, same pull, same everything, but we’re getting $300 less than them. They’re open about shit, and we’re open about shit, and we’re homies, but I’m not happy getting less money for the same amount of work.
Those people making those decisions and offers do not expect to encounter women like us who have done their research and know what fair pay is. We’ll call them out on it and get a nice response email saying they’ll make it up to me ‘next time.’ But it’s like, they shouldn’t have to make it up, you should’ve been fair to begin with! Consider this a promoter service announcement.
Gab: Promoter service announcement! Haha, I like that. Some people you need to keep in check. This dude sends me perverted stuff on Twitter every day. All that stuff is corny shit that comes with our job. That pervert dude is gonna get exposed and in a lot of trouble, hopefully soon though. We get pics from this one dude like every day and the other day he sent us a pic of him ejaculating on stuff. Fucking pervert!
Let’s quickly switch gears. You guys both have such an emphasis on bars and delivery. Who did you listen to before you decided to make rap your job?
Blimes: For me, I liked a lot of the Lyrical Miracle stuff when I was younger. Black Thought, The Roots. I used to like Jurassic 5 hella much. Then I got into the grimier stuff, The Chronic and Slim Shady LP for example. This stuff had a hand in my lack of a filter in the battle rap world. I grew up in the Bay so I was hella into Mac Dre in high school. Too $hort and E-40 as well. I was very much not afraid to be around hard shit. In high school I got really into Lil Wayne. Ludacris was middle school.
Gab: Mac Dre for days! I always liked classics like Hiero, Souls of Mischief, that kid of stuff. I loved the Pharcyde. “Passin’ Me By” is an all-time favorite. I’m a hopeless romantic so I always go back to Mac Dre. Haha. Classic Wu-Tang too.
Speaking of Wu-Tang, Blimes, how did you hook up with Method Man for that track, “Hot Damn”?
Blimes: Method was watching my battles on the Internet and was apparently a fan. I was fucking honored. He even cosigned me by saying, “Yo you need a verse, let me know!” And for someone as big as him in the industry to say that and to actually follow through was great. Like, everyone says that. I even say that! It was during a time when I was rebranding my name to Blimes Brixton from Oh Blimey and was re-establishing myself. It was a vital moment because I didn’t’ announce the name change and Method telling me he has my back and is on my corner was everything I needed to keep going.
This next question is for Gab— can we talk about weed?
Gab: Um, yeah, so, weed’s my life [laughs]. Eventually, I’m going to work in the weed industry. But for the last couple of years I’ve been involved already, pruning of plants and trimming. I am also working for a weed marketing company and medical dispensary where I really get to learn a lot.
Obviously, I’ve been smoking weed for so long it just makes sense. I did illustrations for a magazine and local design work and it was dope to bring it all full circle with this weed thing. I haven’t tried growing yet but I’d like to one day. Speaking of growing, I have my own strain! It’s Nightmare Cookies mixed with Dutch Treats and is called Queen La’Chiefah!
Blimes: That sounds terrifying! [laughs]
Gab: It’s hard to even talk about weed as something special or even work-related because it’s something I just do. Weed just makes everything better. The weed culture in Seattle is super big, so being a creative or artist here it’s almost synonymous. A lot of these weed companies want marketing tactics, so linking with an artist who smokes makes perfect sense. My strain isn’t for the faint of heart though. If you’re not a real deal weed smoker you wouldn’t want too much of it, haha!
Well, we can’t wait to have some Queen La’Chiefah and sit with the B.A.G. album. When is the record dropping?
Gab: Top of the year. In the meantime, I’m working on videos and other content. We’re onset shooting a video right now. And we just want to get our live show locked down for all these festivals. It’s to make sure people are ready for when it drops.
How do you guys pick your beats?
Blimes: For the most part we are in the studio with different producers and we’re building the beat with them on the spot. Even some of our producers were doing it on the spot. We just want a comfortable studio dynamic. Even for “Come Correct,” we’d never rapped over any one of Mike (Mo Beats) beats before. We didn’t have time to go through all his beats so we were like, “Oh this sounds kinda tight!” and just went with it.
What should everyone expect from you guys in the near future?
Gab: You’re gonna get singing, dancing, rapping at all our shows. We can spit bars and give you that ‘90s era hip-hop every time. We’re excited for people to realize that. We can spit better than most guys. We’d love to abolish that whole “we’re female rappers” [thing], because if you can spit you can spit.
And no more dick pics please!