From Providence, Rhode Island, rising hip-hop star Young Kaii is taking steps to change the rap game. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Young Kaii says she has to work harder but doesn't make compromises. Staying independent, Young Kaii creates art freely for herself and those who enjoy it. Inspired by east coast rap gods Notorious B.I.G and Jay-Z, she says Lil Wayne is the most influential rapper of her generation. With fresh beats and smooth hooks, Kaii writes to connect.
"To me, music is music no matter who's behind the lyrics," she says, remembering a track she recorded that was about domestic abuse towards women, something she's never experienced. "But the message behind it touched me. I wanted to be the voice for the women who go through that every day."
Young Kaii's been getting exposure from LGQBT communities for her promise to stay true to herself and her art. Her first time in Canada, she brings a mixtape release for Pride Week.
"I look at Pride Week as a time to have a voice that's being heard, and most importantly, to be yourself," she says.
"I play completely non-ironic piano pop for the un-hip," laughs Kevin Wong, modestly brushing off that his sweet catchy key-ticklers can be loved by anyone. Born and raised in North Toronto, Wong just put out his third album, Songs From the Weekend, a follow-up to The Pink in the Grey (2010), which he says is still held up by indie/queer radio for both its quality and content.
"I'm always coming out in my songs," he says, "Not every single song is lyrically gay, but 'My Baby' is all about my fiance, and in the song, it's pretty clear it's me who he is spoiling."
Wong, who admits he has agonized about coming out to new audiences, is bringing his all to Halifax Pride Week for a sincere celebration with his three-piece band. He came out to family in his teens before a more public coming out in 2004. He then began exploring his identity through song.
"I've just always been out in my music," Wong says, "And it's not in an always-in-your-face kind of way, and that's not the whole point of it all, either. It's just me, as who I am."
You don't know soul and funk till you've seen The Mellotones. The eight-piece R&B show band has been a mainstay of the Halifax music scene since 1997. Playing every Thursday night at the Seahorse, the band's performance for Halifax Pride will have "a little extra flair," says bandleader Jeffrey Mosher. "We're going to play it up and wear some costumes so we don't feel left out."
As straight allies, Mosher says the band is really looking forward to their first Pride show ever. "The gay community deserves everyone's support, and we really like playing for our LBGQT audiences," he says. "We take Pride Week to be an affront to homophobia, and we want to be a part of anything that makes the LBGQT communities feel more accepted."
Along with playing the greatest hits from Motown, the band has something special lined up: "We're going to play 'I'm Coming Out,' and we invite all divas and drag queens to come onstage and sing with the band. We're going to have an open-stage policy, so learn the lyrics and please join us."
The Mellotones will bring good vibes to Pride. You bring the dance moves. /p>