Constantly getting thrown against lockers during middle school years is enough to make some people scarred and bitter as adults but not Brittany Street. She was picked on because of her small stature but dealt with her teen angst by writing rhymes. By the time she was in high school, the petite self-proclaimed martian (listen to her mixtape for an explanation for that reference) became a force to be reckoned with by fighting back lyrically and becoming so good that people began to try to battle her with little success.
Now at 24, she has already gotten the chance to work with some of her industry idols like Large Professor and J Dilla and appeared on a Le Da Soul, a mixtape tribute celebrating 20 years of De La Soul by Mick Boogie, Terry Urban, Lemar and Dauley and De La themselves. Her latest mixtape, Confessions of a Martian, released in partnership with illroots.com last year solidified Street’s place as a potential dominant force in the music industry. It showcased that the Indianapolis, Indiana native might be small, but her aggressive flow, lyrical prowess, writing skills, and nimble ability to switch back and forth between rapping and singing are why the budding super nova will continue to make a big impression on new listeners. GangStarrGirl.com caught up with her to talk about her songwriting camp Good comPENy, her father’s unique jazz history lessons and what’s next on her musical agenda.
GangStarrGirl: You bio reads: “Some say the ‘Street’ connotation has expressions with multiple meanings which can either be dictated by; living on the street, being gangster or whichever meaning may relate to you. There has been much talk around town about a new metaphor of street.”
What’s the story behind your rap name with regards to “a new metaphor of street?”
Brittany Street: Thereâ€™s power in showing the public and people around you, that you are happy as you–real name, no gimmicks. I get a lot of blank stares from people that have known me and ask me what my name is for music and stage and I say ‘Brittany Street.’ My name means a lot to me and I know itâ€™s strong enough to stand against something made up.
GangStarrGirl.com: What was life like for you growing up and how did that affect the artist you became?
Brittany Street: Looking back, I had a great childhood but there were times where I felt alone even though both parents were there for me. I think me being very petite as a child got me in a lot of trouble, I was picked on a lot in middle school. It just mentally changed me from there on out. I was still small in high school but my attitude was totally different. I started to get in a lot of trouble. My mouth would constantly run. I guess at those ages you feel alone and I contemplated and thought of a lot of stupid things and have just been blessed to have two wonderful parents that had my back no matter what, if I did not have them I doubt I would be okay today.
GangStarrGirl.com: You started writing rhymes as a teenager but who were your musical influences before that?
I had a big spot in my heart as a kid for Michael Jackson. I saw him perform and Iâ€™d say, “Thatâ€™s how itâ€™s done!” I loved Nas with a passion, also B.I.G, A Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre and snoop Dogg. My cousins who were a little older than me were already in high school when I was just a kid so they were doing shows and kind of showed me the way with music.
GangStarrGirl.com: Did your parents encourage music too?
My pops made sure at home I knew about jazz music. As kids me and my sister would sit on his lap and heâ€™d play the drums on our back to his jazz music while two big speakers sat in front of us [Laughs]–talk about being deaf right now–I had no choice! [Laughs].
GangStarrGirl.com: Do you play any instruments too?
Brittany Street: Yes, I play alto saxophone. I started in 6th grade. Honestly I havenâ€™t picked it up in over eight years [laughs] but I was always first chair in high school without taking it home to practice or trying.
GangStarrGirl.com: Which came first, rapping or singing?
Brittany Street: Rapping definitely came first. I started free styling at school before I wrote my first rhyme. They use to say, ‘you need to write because your freestyles are crazy!’ so I had all the guys trying to battle me at 13/14 in the neighborhood. Then by high school I wanted to be a singer. Even though I was great at rap and not so much at singing, singing just felt so much better to me–no reason why. So I started to combined them in college. Four years ago, maybe five, I got lessons and my voice started to develop more, enough for me to combine the two.
GangStarrGirl.com: How long have you been rapping professionally and do you also hold down a 9-5?
Brittany Street: Professionally Iâ€™ve been focused on music for three years while holding down a accounting assistant position for the eight hour day. Then I hit studio directly after to write and work more. No matter how good you are at something. You must have a plan!
GangStarrGirl.com: Talk about your forthcoming EP Sound check.
Brittany Street: The project has been put on hold [for now]. Our vision for the EP was to work with one producer and transform the Brittany Street sound into something totally out of my element. We finished five to six songs but my producer was sent to Afghanistan so that put a hold on things. He is just now getting to a position where we can work again, slowly, so we are working toward something even more personal to me. Itâ€™s going to be great. Time really does change things and on this one it has been for the best.
Before we release the EP, we are in thoughts of doing another mixtape, something that might happen real soon. Just to tithe the fans over.
GangStarrGirl: In the meantime, you also have your own songwriting company called Good comPENy, break it down.
Brittany Street: Good comPENy is a lot of things. Among most itâ€™s a family of writers and talents with one vision and about 50 goals [laughs], co-founded by me and Donny â€œHOTTâ€ Lewis. We linked up with other writers and artist to change the game of songwriting.
We have worked with some of your favorite major recording artists to some of your favorite local artist out there grinding. And with time, we want to be the company that every genre of music wants to keep around.
GangStarrGirl: What’s your label situation like, have you ever been signed by a major or come close?
Brittany Street: I’ve never been signed but of course Iâ€™ve come close–dozens of times. When you’re in positions like that everything is but an inch away but I have learned from this game. Timing is everything and things happen for a reason. Iâ€™m really happy I didnâ€™t take some of those deals. If you aren’t ready then being signed means nothing.
Staying independent is fine [right now] as long as I have some big people and a strong team that knows the process behind me. Would I prefer it over major? Honestly it depends on the situation. As of right now, Iâ€™m open to anything that will benefit me as an artist. I want to be able to do things my way, from the music I record to politics.
GangStarrGirl.com: I ask every female rapper I interview a variant of this question, but how does your gender affect your career?
Brittany Street: I think gender only comes into play when you let it. Yes, it can be hard out there for a woman but then again you can take it as another obstacle to overcome and excel with it. We as women are our worst enemies. I’m happy for Nicki Minaj regardless of whether she stays around or not. At least sheâ€™s grinding at the moment. Most women will grind for a second and then say that because they’re a woman they didnâ€™t make it. Keep going!
GangStarrGirl: People seem to think Nicki Minaj is the only one though. Why do you think that talented femcees aren’t getting the same mainstream love like they used to?
Brittany Street: I donâ€™t have feelings toward any female out there doing what they do, thatâ€™s not trying to things the same way as me. Everything in this business is timed. Its Nickiâ€™s time is right now. [But] you get what you take, plain and simple. The women havenâ€™t grabbed it and taken it like we are supposed to. I no longer have excuses saying the game is male controlled. No! They want it. I feel it. It’s just up to us to step up and say â€œHey, I accept! Give it to me!â€
Random Brittany Street Facts:
She loves football (the Colts).
She does community work in the urban areas of Indianapolis along with Indy Parks like the kidâ€™s triathlon. She is also working with other artists on ideas to implement music education programs in the greater area of Atlanta.