In the beginning, women in hip-hop had a place; more importantly, they had a voice. That voice that brought us Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Ms. Melodie, and Salt ‘N’ Pepa, has faded and in the hopes of waiting for another Lauryn Hill album. With the lackluster returns of Trina, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, and unexpected retirement of Jean Grae whose left? Of course, Missy Elliot is around and Kid Sister is single handedly holding down the Midwest. However, if you’re looking for music and a voice that represents womanhood, hip-hop, creativity and the all mighty boom-bap, Amanda Seales better known as Amanda Diva, is the one.
Her resume is thick, a Masters Degree from Columbia University, radio personality on Sirius Satellite Radio, T.V-host, Def-Poet, and journalist. All that said, being one of the lone souls in this industry, she still fights for the respect and is trying to re-carve a voice for women in hip-hop who have silently fell by the wayside, and are now back up dancers and props for today’s dominant male industry. Diva is aware of this almost extinct gender in hip-hop and when asked why she believes this occurred her answer is simple, “ Hip-hop has shut out a lot of women and they haven’t really felt that like they can be heard in this form.” One her many strengths that has made her successful thus far is her self-motivation, with no manager, just an assistant, Diva handles all the business aspects of her career as well, which along with the constant performing can take a toll. Ms. Diva recently regained a clean bill of health after having to undergo a spinal tap from the result of truly being on the grind. “More than anything I really need a cook.”
Amanda Diva is a woman in every sense of the word and anyone in the industry that deals with her knows that. However, she explains the perception of being a woman when it comes to dealing with men,
“When I’m on point and about business I’m looked at as a bitch, Diva, and extra, but when a man is about his business he’s looked at as a smart dude.” Diva has identified the dichotomy but by choice still stays true, “I have a deep voice but I’m not hard, I’m not a punk, and I won’t be taken for a ride.”
Diva is cognizant that a change is coming with the success of Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and the emergence of Wale, and Blu and Exile, granted their all men. From her angle she’s not necessarily trying to follow suit, literally, “I want to create a niche for myself.” something that she’s passionately and painstakingly doing. When we discussed aspects of the industry she liked and disliked, “Performing, making the music, and interacting with supporters. I can’t stand dealing with promoters and the producers that think they are superstars.” Speaking of producers Diva is currently working on her next EP entitled the Love Experience, which will feature production from James Poyser and Green Lantern and should further display the diversity of Diva and help her widen the niche she desires to create.
Before you buy the next Amanda Diva mixtape which is out on iTunes entitled Foreplay [fellas, get your mind out of the gutters] go check her performances, which to her asset as an independent artist is her selling point, “A person that comes too my show is never going to get the same show I did the night before, they will get comedy, sincerity, we’ll break it down together, and they will really be inspired.”
Through her success and setbacks Amanda Diva wants you to take away one thing, her honesty. If you get nothing else from her, at least you will receive her truth. She understands this will take time and from a woman who had plans, goals, and knew when they were going to happen, now she’s going for a ride, only this is a ride that she’s in control of.