kick­ing down doors

Exclaim! - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Erin Low­ers

IN 2016, FOUR WOMEN WERE IN­VITED to par­tic­i­pate in a cypher series to cel­e­brate an up­com­ing In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day — what they didn’t know then was that over the next two years, they’d form a sis­ter­hood that would chal­lenge Toronto’s male-dom­i­nated hip-hop in­dus­try.

Made up of Keysha Freshh, Phoenix Pagli­acci, Lex Leo­sis and Haviah Mighty, Toron­to­based group the Soror­ity have carved out a space in hip-hop that’s hardly ex­plored — an all-women col­lec­tive that, un­til the record­ing of their de­but, Pledge, worked ex­clu­sively with women in pro­duc­tion, film and ev­ery­thing in-be­tween.

“Be­ing em­pow­ered women and that be­ing an okay thing — that’s where the Soror­ity come from,” Haviah Mighty says. “[ We’re] mak­ing space and kick­ing down doors.”

“Em­pow­er­ment” seems to be the key word in the Soror­ity’s mu­sic the­mat­i­cally, but also in phys­i­cal pres­ence.

“If we’re talk­ing about fe­male em­power- ment, and we’re in­clud­ing males in that nar­ra­tive, we want them as al­lies and sup­port­ers, and they have to un­der­stand that,” Pagli­acci as­serts. “We’re work­ing with them; we don’t owe them any­thing.”

Apart from the Soror­ity, each mem­ber has her own solo ca­reer, in­clud­ing stylis­ti­cally, which, as Lex Leo­sis ex­plains, cre­ates an en­vi­ron­ment for col­lab­o­ra­tion over com­pe­ti­tion.

“We came into it kinda blind,” Leo­sis notes. “Ev­ery­body put their own pro­duc­tion into a Google drive, and we just started lis­ten­ing to each other’s pro­duc­ers and catch­ing a vibe.”

“The al­bum is very ver­sa­tile. There’s a wide range of top­ics we touch on, and I think a very broad au­di­ence will be able to re­late,” Keysha Freshh adds. “With ‘SRTY,’ we drop a bar-heavy an­them, but with ‘On Me,’ it’s a sexy re­bel­lious booty call, al­most. The al­bum is pretty much a di­ary of the dif­fer­ent things we deal with, not only as fe­males, but as some­one who’s been taken ad­van­tage of, as some­one who feels black­listed, as some­one who feels like the un­der­dog. There’s a song on this proj- ect for every­one.”

At a time where fe­male rap­pers are con­tin­u­ally pit­ted against each other, the Soror­ity have taken a pledge to never stop push­ing their story.

“We want the peo­ple to know that we are not a gim­mick, we are not a fad, we’re not a time-stamped hash­tag, [but that] the Soror­ity is for­ever be­cause the Soror­ity ex­ists in ev­ery sis­ter, ev­ery fe­male-iden­ti­fy­ing per­son in the world.”

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