When Gigi Lamayne decided to become a rapper as a teenager, she had one goal: to be the best among the boys. The hip-hop genre may be one of the most popular in the country, but it’s still essentially a boys club.
For a female rapper, the biggest challenge is to be taken seriously as a rapper in a genre where women have yet to make a significant impact. Lamayne (Genesis Gabriella Manney) is one of the few female rappers on this year’s Maftown Heights Festival line-up, sharing the stage with industry heavyweights such as Khuli Chana (Khulane Morule), HHP (Jabulani Tsambo) and Tuks (Tumelo Kepadisa).
“I think this speaks volumes in terms of the strides I’ve been making in my career,” says 21-year-old Lamayne. “I want people to be able to look at me like they would any other rapper, not just compare me to female rappers.”
The festival, co-founded by Chana and HHP, is now in its sixth year and has become one of the biggest hip-hop events in the country. Lamayne performed at the festival for the first time last year on the “New Kids On The Block” line-up. This year she joins K.O, AKA (Kiernan Forbes) and Ricky Rick (Rikhado Makhado) on the “Friends Of Motswako” line-up – and she plans to make her mark.
“At this stage of my career, I feel I still need to prove why I deserve to be in that space, so I always give it my all.” She recently collaborated with fellow female rappers Fifi Cooper (Refilwe Mooketsi), Nomuzi Mabena and Rouge on a remix of AKA’s Baddest, which she is excited to be performing at the festival.
“People are always surprised to find how well us female rappers get along. It’s like they expect us to have beef,” she says. “But we’re very supportive of each other be cause, right now, it’s us against the guys.”
One of the biggest challenges she faces is changing people’s perceptions of what a rapper is supposed to look and sound like and to get out of the “female rapper” box.
“When there’s a new male rapper, no one compares him to other male rappers. He is just appreciated for who he is. But as girls we are immediately put up against each other in a negative way as if female rappers can’t co-exist. Somehow with us, people believe there can only ever be one.” Despite the difficulties, Lamayne is determined to shine in the entertainment industry.
“It’s our time now as female rappers. There’s no Second Coming for us.”