If you want intense vibes with impeccable lyricism then you’ll easily fall in love with Sharaya J. Missy Elliott’s protege and our rapper to watch is changing the way you appreciate music with her Banji Movement. Sharaya grew up in a music heavy household–her dad was apart of Double XX Posse—so you know she’s giving life in her new video. Find out why this jersey-bred rapper is our Vixen approved next artist on the rise.
Five things to know about her: She’s a sneakerhead, workaholic, clown, and cheese fanatic who loves the 80′s and 90′s.
Why we like her: Her tenacity towards hard work and originality in an era where fame is given for free makes us an automatic fan. Her video make you want to recreate the 90′s and her skills remind you why you fell in love with hip-hop in the first place. Like Missy said, “she has the potential to go far.”
“Banji” Movement means: Be Authentic Never Jeopardize Individuality
First time she fell in love with hip-hop:
Chubb Rock ‘Treat em’ right” was the first song I did choreography to. I was a baby but I used to love that joint. I just remember what it was like performing that for the first time and after that I was hooked.
She doesn’t want her talent to be boxed:
I don’t really try to put a label on who I am, especially when I’m trying to express myself creatively, I try to keep an open mind, and be organic and real. Whatever opinions people want to have of me that’s their thing. I do know I love the stage, I love to write, I love to dance, and the only thing I can do is be the best me and hope that people can appreciate what I’m trying to do.
Her stage dreams:
I want to share the stage with Janet [Jackson], Missy [Elliott], and Michael [Jackson] those are the ones I live for as artist and those are the ones I looked up to when I was a kid.
She works as hard as her dancers:
I’m always fighting to make sure it’s the best I can do.
She doesn’t do it for the money:
There’s so much free stuff I had to do, but I do it out of love because I love it. The most important thing to me is producing a great body of work and having people appreciate it because it’s authentic to who I am.
She only puts out quality records:
I want to be able to grow gradually and make sure it’s authentic to the people. I have to keep trying to creatively outdo the last track. I’m not one of those artist that wants to put out 17 records every 2 days. A month after ‘Banji’ dropped, my fans were like “what’s next?” Back in the day we knew all the words to songs and we could rap it all the way down. Now a lot of the times it’s in one ear and out the other and that’s why these songs aren’t becoming classics. I work so hard on each song and each video, I’m not trying to throw it out and it not mean anything.
Her style has evolved:
Before I ran into Miss [Missy Elliott], I was a weave queen. When I cut my hair, I loved the asymmetrical look. Then I did the bang, then I got shorter and shorter and just cut it all off. Black [hair color] bored me, I tried pink, then it became as boring to me. Then I did yellow, I tried green, I purple, I tried everything, and then turquoise and I was like this is the one.
Where “Banji” came from:
Banji around the gay community means ghetto or hood—a girl that rocks bamboo earrings sucking on a lollipop [laughs]. I felt like I grew up that girl and around that girl. I related to the word and I wanted a crew of girls that will be my “banji babes.” Then I had a meeting with some execs and they asked me to spit 8 bars but instead I decided to perform. I called my girls to do it full out and we gave a whole performance, the next day they called and said, “we want to sign you but the only thing we need you to do is get a weave, wear less clothes, rock pumps, and that would be perfect.”
I can do all those things but I want the option to dress how I want to dress. I want to be appreciated for my talent first, if you think I’m cute, that’s good. So I turned down the deal, I rather take down the chance of not getting a deal and make this work than change who I am and go against the grain of everything I stood for.
Flip the page to check out our Vixen Exclusive premiere of her music video, “Smash Up The Place/Snatch Yo Wigs.”