From the nascent days of hip-hop in the late 1970s to the present, women have steadily carved their niche within the genre, challenging stereotypes and asserting their voices.
While the early years saw pioneers like Roxanne Shanté and Queen Latifah breaking ground, contemporary artists such as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion continue to push boundaries, exemplifying the evolving and influential role of women in hip-hop culture.
"To be honest, I’m not trying to box myself into the hip-hop category only. I love pop music and enjoy experimenting with my rap," shares Nayomi. "But it’s a genre where I feel I can authentically express myself and connect with people."
Just a few years ago, Nayomi's emergence sparked curiosity as she entered the scene with a few freestyles.
Now, the multilingual Sweden-based Iraqi rapper finds herself collaborating with renowned figures like Blu Fiefer and Perrie, marking an impressive ascent in her career.
"To be honest, I’m not trying to box myself into the hip-hop category only."
Her latest collaboration, 'Ekhir Hamme,' was organically "fueled by creative chemistry." "Connecting with Blu and Perrie felt natural, and our energies just clicked," she recalls. Collaboration with fellow artists has been a trend, crucial in enriching the artistic process and broadening the impact of collective work. "When Blu asked us to jump on the remix, I instantly fell in love with the song. A few months after it was recorded, she and her team invited us to Beirut to perform it at the release party of her single 'Nazele Big Champagne,' and we ended up shooting a video for it that weekend."
"Connecting with Blu and Perrie felt natural, and our energies just clicked," she recalls.
Navigating the hip-hop landscape from a distant location poses unique challenges for a rapper, especially for an Arab woman. It involves not only breaking through artistic barriers but also challenging stereotypes and cultural expectations. "Adapting to a new music scene was tough, but I embraced networking and collaborations on top of delivering good quality music," the rapper shares. Nayomi consistently embraced the belief that she could accomplish anything with the resources available to her, regardless of her location. "Of course, sometimes I feel like it would be easier to collaborate on visuals with artists in the region if I were living there," she adds. However, the distinction lies in a mere few hours of travel.
"Adapting to a new music scene was tough..."
For many, music serves as a potent means to articulate and comprehend their emotions, offering a profound sense of connection and belonging, thus becoming a vital component of mental well-being. Nayomi agrees, speaking about mental health and music. "But everyone's relationship with music and mental health is unique. For me, it serves as a channel for conveying my feelings, what I want to manifest, and personal growth," says the multilingual artist.
"But everyone's relationship with music and mental health is unique..."
Nayomi delved deeper mid-conversation. "Undoubtedly, overcoming personal setbacks made me more determined to keep going and made me more selfish with my time and who I share it with." At its core, embracing self-love is an empowering act that enables individuals to recognize their worth, foster resilience, and embark on a journey towards personal growth and fulfillment. "Those challenges defined my journey, shaping me into the artist and woman I am today," she adds. Nayomi realized the need to love herself first "for things to fall into place."
Outside of music, the rapper enjoys engaging in online gaming and dressing to the nines. "I’m a huge gamer, believe it or not. And fashion, of course, it’s another form of self-expression that’s connected to my art.
"I’m a huge gamer, believe it or not."
What lies ahead for Nayomi? The buzz suggests that 2024 is poised to be her most prolific year yet, featuring the release of several anticipated singles. Stay tuned for more updates.
ROOTS is musivv's segment featuring musical artists of Middle-Eastern descent residing in the UAE, Middle East and around the world. Features under this segment are considered as submissions for nomination under this category in the Musivv Awards’ annual recognition.