PICTURED: Haviah Mighty
HAVIAH MIGHTY didn’t need to change her birth name when she decided to dedicate her career to music.
Named one of XXL’s ‘15 Toronto Rappers You Should Know,’ the 26-year-old was raised in a musical household in Brampton, Ontario.
Speaking of her hometown, Haviah says: “Toronto is very diverse. Different cultures, different slang and different dialects manifest into different vibes.
“Toronto has a recognisable sound and wave, and my sound somewhat falls into that.” Identifying the similarities between the UK, London in particular, and Toronto, Haviah spoke with excitement ahead of bringing her explosive live show here for the first time.
After earning opening slots for acclaimed artists like Sheck Wes, Nelly, Desiigner, Kranium and Snoop Dogg, Haviah’s intensity and fast, technical flows came to Brighton in early May for the Great Escape Festival. Although this was Haviah’s first performance in the UK, she has a connection to Britain as her mother was raised here. Originating from Barbados, Haviah’s mother influenced her musically with a soul and R’n’B outlook whereas her Jamaican father would impact her with music from Peter Tosh, Buju Banton and Bob Marley.
These cultural and musical influences make their way into Haviah’s music, as do pop and hip-hop themes that have also had a weighty impact on the Toronto-based artist.
Well known for being one of the three MCs who make up ‘The Sorority’ – a hip-hop group born during an allfemale cypher on International Women’s Day in 2016 – Haviah expresses “the climate is shifting for female rappers”.
However, Haviah’s flow, energy and lyricism leave her standing somewhat ahead of the crowd.
Not always feeling as though there was space to speak her truth, Haviah describes once modifying her art.
“I definitely manipulated the way I was creating my music,” she admits. “Playing with different styles, themes, sounds, concepts and ultimately shying away from my authenticity has allowed me to be creative in a way where now I am comfortable speaking my truth, I can incorporate all of those styles.”
Now creating music from her bona fide truth, Haviah explicitly combats a range of topics, one of those being the realities of life as a dark-skinned woman.
“I speak on it because there are so many young black women who are dark-skinned who will identify,” Haviah says.
“I speak on it because no one can shy away from the fact that the marginalisation exists and it hurts.”
I’d recommend taking in her track In Women Colour for further understanding. Haviah is an artist who clearly feels a responsibility with her music. She expresses a need to “recognise my abilities and how that may manifest in someone else’s life”.
However, Haviah makes it clear that she doesn’t have an expectation for music to be “super intelligent”.
She lets me know that there’s “time for fun, too”, and expresses that “music comes in waves and I think we’re in a wave where audiences are seeking a little bit more”.
We are definitely seeking more from Haviah Mighty as she continues to carve out spaces that boldly defy gendered expectations for women in hip-hop.
Haviah Mighty’s debut album 13th Floor is out now.
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