Audra the Rapper’s path to hip-hop was an unlikely one. ATR’s sound is raw, unapologetic, and often emotional
Interview by Jess Maldonado
Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Richmond, Virginia to a single mother and grandmother, Audra was forbidden to listen to rap music because of its often-violent nature and aggressive misogyny. Instead, her childhood home was filled with the sounds of jazz, soul, and R&B leading Audra to take a more musical approach to rap. Studying the styles of Tupac, Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill, Audra began writing poetry that later became the narrative to her raps. Battling classmates during lunch and football games, ATR began taking rap more seriously and at age 16 she released her first offering “Sweet and Sour,” which she sold in local car washes and neighborhood malls.
Audra’s goal is to remain honest and outspoken in the music, as well as fearless in content, touching on topics that are seemingly taboo for female artists. Described as “ratchet soul,” ATR’s sound is raw, unapologetic, and often emotional.
Get to know Audra with this exclusive interview!
♥ Growing up in a household where you weren’t allowed to listen to rap music, how was it that you decided to become a rapper? ♥
Even though I wasn’t allowed or encouraged to listen to rap growing up, It was still hard to escape it. Some of my favorite Rnb Songs had rap verses that I would memorize. Like Lil’ Kim’s verse on Usher’s “Just Like Me” from his My Way CD was the first verse I learned and that is one of the raunchiest verses. I was 6 when that CD dropped rapping along to her lyrics about dildos and paying for sex not knowing wtf she was talking about but it felt good…it felt bossy. Then I would start writing my own lyrics…at first they were songs but around middle school they started turning into raps. I would trade rap DVDs at school and sneak them home. It was like the forbidden fruit for me.
♥ Being in a male dominated industry and with female rappers always being pinned against each other, how do you see the future in female rap music? ♥
As far as women being pinned against each other, That happens with men too it’s just fewer women in the rap game so its all eyes on us when it happens. You have some that fall for it and some who don’t. I do think the artists who make it the farthest and last the longest are the ones that aren’t here for putting other women down. Look at the 90’s. Look at Missy Elliott, one of my favorite artists and all she did was put other women in the spotlight and share her platform. She always had other women on her albums and in her videos. Collaboration is the key to success and when women team up it’s automatically gonna produce something vibrant.
As far as the future for female rap, I think its in a great space but I do I feel like it’s natural selection. The ones who are meant to shine will shine. Most industries are male dominated but I cant let that stop me from doing what needs to be done and no other woman should either. I think the future of “female rap” is bright for whoever wants it to be. Especially now that the listeners are in control of who they hear and have access to, there will always be a space for women who rap and we no longer have to depend on the big wigs giving the green light like once before.
♥ What is the inspiration behind your music? ♥
The inspiration behind my music constantly changes project to project. Alotta times even song to song. But I think the one constant is I just want to put something out into the world that is human. A true representation of my existence and the seasons that come with it. Im inspired most by people and the effect they have on me.
♥ Could you guide our readers through the process of recording your new album Anti Love Songs? ♥
I wrote and recorded most of Anti Love Songs in my bedroom in Jersey City, NJ. Recorded the features in Los Angeles and did the finishing touches with my boy Dru Oliver at Blast Off Studios in Time Square. A lot of staying up late. A lot of Heartbreak. A lot of listening to slow songs. A lot of learning HOW to make music and not just rap. I felt like this was me starting to come out as a songwriter and not just a rapper and artist. I had so many ideas in my heard that I didn’t know how to articulate to someone else so I locked myself in my room and worked to figure it out myself.
Around the time I started on the project, I had a obsession for the movie Boomerang and felt really inspired by Halle Berry’s character. She was strong in her vulnerability and never was defeated or questioned her worth throughout her heartbreak. I enviously admired that quality. It inspired me to use her soundbite’s from the movie throughout the EP. (Paramount dont sue me!)
♥ Are there any songs within the album that you were hesitant or nervous about people listening to? ♥
There aren’t any songs that I was nervous about people hearing but there was this song I was nervous about putting on the project. I’m not the most open in my music or personal life when it comes to intimacy and lust etc. I’ve just never really been a provocateur in that way but there is this one song, “Rye Now” on the project where that’s all I’m talking about. I was talking to this guy long distance at the time and we would always Facetime and I guess I just got tired of it and one night we hung up and the hook just came to me so easily. It was kind of our of my element but it showed me a different dimension of myself. I’ve made sensual songs before no doubt, like this one song I have “No.Body” but this one just took it there.
♥ If you could describe your new album in three words, what would it be? ♥
I always feel like im good with words until it comes to questions like this haha.
♥ We read that your first song was recorded on your home computer, could you tell us more about that along with the name of the song? ♥
I recorded my first song on my mom’s desktop computer when I was 13 using a super prehistoric software called wave pad. It was like the recording version of Tetris. I taught myself the program and used one of those long pencil thin microphones that telemarketers used in the 90’s. The song was called “I Got Yo Weave” and it was like a girl fight anthem. Thank GOD this song never made it’s way to the internet!!! I found the beat online on some website and recorded it in my closet. I use to go OD hard with promoting myself when I first started and would give CD’s to all the radio DJ’s. Where I’m from it’s a small music community in the city and every one pretty much knows each other or know where to find someone.
♥ What are your goals for the rest of the year? ♥
One goal of mine for the year is to me more selfless with the music I make. I realize that everything I write and create doesn’t have to be for me. I use to throw away ideas, GOOD ASS ideas if I couldn’t see myself performing them. That all changes now. I’m also working at just getting better with this music. Like REALLY understanding music because one day I’m gonna wake up and not rap anymore but I know I’m going to always want to live off music so I’ve been getting back into being a student and really studying sonic, reading music, and the process behind it all…that’s also been helping to change my creation process. Outside of all that, I’m just trying to be a better human.. all the other goals will fall in place once I knock this one out.
Stream Audra’s Latest Album, “Anti Love Songs” below and be sure to grab it on Apple Music.
This spread appears in the pages of TB174 On Track with Audra taken from the VIVID Issue 2018; out now and available to buy here.
This Bitch print exclusive has been produced by
Photographer: Bethany Reed | @brrphoto
Stylist: Dougie Newton| @dougienewtonproject
Hair: Lana Hunter | @lanahun
Makeup: Jacqueline Reyes | @jacquelinereyesmua
Artist: Audra the Rapper| @audratherapper