It’s no secret that the presence of the female emcee in the landscape of mainstream hip-hop culture is severely underrepresented. A culture that seems to undervalue the non-conforming female voice unwilling to bend to trends and commercial viability. But Washington, DC based hip hop artist Tarica June has a unique and celebrated skill set that undoubtedly gives her quite the edge on the competition, male and female. Her dossier flaunts high praises from the likes of seminal hip-hop artist Chuck D and upcoming collaborations with hip hop artist M-1 (Dead Prez). With an effortless flow that sits haughtily at the nexus of diverse influences such as Sonia Sanchez, Yasiin Bey, and T.I., it’s easy to see why media outlets called her debut “one of the most important projects in recent Hip Hop memory.” And with her upcoming EP, Stream of Consciousness and full-length debut on the horizon, the rapper and Howard Law School graduate is destined to shatter stereotypes and transcend categorization in one fell swoop.
Upon release of her first mixtape Moonlight Revolution, word of Tarica’s talent spread like wildfire throughout the city, leading to her coveted spot in the line up at the Can A Sista Rock A Mic Festival in the summer of 2010. With a diverse bill that flaunted the likes of Grammy nominated singer Dionne Farris and Kimberly Nichole from NBC’s The Voice. That same year, she was also named as the headliner of the Minneapolis festival B-Girl Be: A Celebration of Women in Hip-Hop and performed at SSXW.
Immediately after performing at “Occupy the Justice Department”–a rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal in 2013, Tarica received one of the most humbling honors of her young career. “Paradise Gray from X Clan just came up to me and told me to come with him. He just grabbed me and pulled me through a crowd of all these people. Then I look up and I’m standing in front of Chuck D.”
Tarica stood amazed as one of her revered hip hop heroes showered her with compliments on her performance and talent. “He told me that he loved my performance and was really supportive.” After her departure, Chuck D made wordsmith M-1 (of hip hop group Dead Prez) aware of the magnitude of her performance upon his arrival. M-1 promised to stay in touch. In the meantime, to satiate fans eagerly awaiting her follow up, Tarica releases “But Anyway,” a thoughtful and refreshingly honest take on DC’s current wave of gentrification. Over a patchwork old school track that utilizes the nostalgia of songs by Suzanne Vega, Eric B. & Rakim, and P.M. Dawn, “But Anyway” cleverly illustrates the pangs of a city in deep socioeconomic flux. The video, Tarica’s directorial debut, is a colorful and celebratory collage of shots on the streets of her hometown that serves a dual purpose.
“Everybody knows that DC was the site of a crack epidemic. I definitely witnessed that growing up, so I won’t discount that. But there was also was a very potent sense of community here.”
The searing track “But Anyway” prompted an invite to perform for the delegation of the United Nationas Human Rights Council. Her upcoming Stream Of Consciousness EP offers listeners an even more intimate peek into the mind of Tarica June with subtle hints about her forthcoming album. The city’s seismic cultural transition and shifting landscape caused Tarica to reflect on how to best preserve the memory of the city she calls home. Traveling in the same vein, another EP track “Four Unit (My Life)” finds Tarica discusses the pangs of an artist struggling to exist in a city with a soaring cost of living. The track “Uncompromised” is formulated as a push-back on the oft pedaled, well meaning, yet maligned advice that every female emcee likely knows all too well. The pulsing “S.O.C. (Cray)” is a trippy trap laden excursion where Tarica June rhythmically elaborates on her unique musical perspective. “The Cover Up” fashions a thought provoking commentary on how readily society constructs facades in the age of social media – in effect making us less social while normalizing a contrived existence via artificial intelligence. With her guitar and her experiences as her mediums of choice, Tarica June aims to paint an unbridled lyrical portrait steered by authentic sound and vision. At this point in her career, she is well aware of the boxes that categorize her. As an emcee, a conscious rapper, and a female artist. You can grab her Stream Of Consciousness: Vol. 1.5 as a free download on Bandcamp.