Colorful, brash and unafraid to speak up, Mixed From Sxratch offers attitude that’s only matched by the power of their lyrics and beats.
The Central Virginia-based hip hop/R&B trio grew out of the dorms of Virginia State University. I first discovered them via local twerk-god, J RoddyRod, a producer whose party-fueled beats often find women the object of obsession.
That’s why Sxratch’s message stood out. While their makeup is just as bright as their braids, their music highlights lyricism and their locks.
“I want people to feel empowered,” says Saiyda Divine, who hails from Charlottesville but currently resides in New York. She phoned into our interview as fellow members Jade Goddess and Rajeanna, from New York and Charlottesville respectively, sipped drinks on the back patio at New York Deli.
“I want [our audience] to feel proud to be who they are,” Saiyda says. “And make sure they don’t care what people say about you.”
The Richmond hip hop scene, as diverse as the city itself, is still working to elevate female voices and the trio wants to help. Songs such as “Netflix Live” highlight their preference for cutting creative rhymes from the female perspective:
“Hopped up out the coop/ Popped up out the blue/ Turning into savages cause it’s a full moon/ Y’all just in the way, so move/ ‘Cause we are the view/ Like we Netflix and, bitch, you ain’t in my queue”
“Ears lift up when people hear it,” says Goddess, explaining where the track came from. “It’s your queue, you liked it. You’re in my personal queue [or your’re not].”
The aggression on the tracks reflects the performer’s own preference for crossing gender barriers and defying what men often think of women in the hip hop industry. All three identify as tomboys but also as feminists.
Rajeanna believes their message is important in this day and age when some men still say that women can’t rap. “We’re here to show ‘yes, we may have a vagina but we can still rap… we can make it on a beat and make it sound like fire,’” says Rajeanna. “I wanna shove it in their face.”
All three had musical backgrounds growing up and met by fate the first night of their freshman year at VSU. During a smoky “study session,” they started blasting YouTube videos and freestyling over beats they found online. They’d bounce back and forth with rhymes, trying to outdo each other.
“There’s a friendly competition. So it’ll be like ‘she just said some fire and I gotta do something better,” says Divine. “It always feels good, you're competing with your bandmates so it improves the group over all.”
First track, “Fruity Pebbles,” was recorded on a laptop in a dorm closet. What it might lack in fidelity is more than made up for with powerful lyrics. They kept the sound local with the beat coming from Virginia Commonwealth University student and producer Sounds by Soy.
The beats come from YouTube producers: one member finds a track online and brings it before the rest. The others often are hearing the track for the first time, but the freestyling leads to chorus development and before long they’ve got a song.
The trio dropped its first EP, “Absxratch,” last summer. The four-track release marked the first time they moved out of the dorm and got help from local producer Centy P aka Centastic. He brought mics and upped the level of production.
“Men look at us as if we’re trophies to be won because of our hair,” Divine says. “When men look at us they don't see a different girl, they see the hair. When we take it off, they don’t see who we are. They don’t address us the same way. But as soon as we get a new color everyone is on our backs again.”
Mixed from Sxratch performs at Strange Matter on Wednesday, March 14 opening for Raleigh-based Zenzofly along with RVA-local Kenneka Cook and TRAPCRY. Tickets are $10.