When Gigi LaMayne finally decided to be herself, things started to get much more interesting for her.
“I’m unapologetic now. It was important for me to switch it up and start doing the things I wanted to do,” said the 22-year-old.
LaMayne, whose real name is Genesis Gabriella Tina Manney, is one of the few female rappers that have found commercial success in the male-dominated industry.
“I’ve always loved music and loved writing. My parents and teachers picked up on it. I could write, but singing wasn’t what I could do,” she said.
By 16 she was competing commercially and on TV, and also started writing her own music.
The Ice Cream hit-maker was raised by her mother, who supported her love for music.
“She paid for my studio sessions and showed a lot of commitment towards my dream, but she made sure I put my education first.”
LaMayne holds a BA in anthropology and media studies. “One day I would like to write academic pieces on hip-hop. It’s not something that has been explored.”
Her studies have also come in handy for her brand, having helped her with knowledge on communications and working with people. “I wasn’t completely clueless in that way, I am a communicator. I learn from it every day.”
LaMayne has released three mix tapes: Circus Café at age 16; Colour of Reign at age 20, for which she won accolades as the youngest female rapper to win at the SA Hip-Hop Awards; and Ground Zero, which also won her an SA Hip-Hop award last year.
Her new album i-Genesis has been in stores since December.
“It is the beginning of a new journey for me, Genesis. I’m fresh out of school and want my voice to be heard.”
LaMayne recently ramped up her image to feel more authentic.
“I’m inspired by creative people like Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Madonna. I am a naturally theatrical person, and people also find it a lot more interesting interacting with me being myself,” she said.
Her image switch up has also helped her gain more confidence in the male-dominated genre of hip-hop.
“Just being myself and the energy I’m putting out. One day I can be dressed like a lady and the next I can be a tomboy. That should be something we have liberty to do in a society that is open-minded.”
LaMayne said she was intent on making sure she carried on building her brand and making a name for women in the game. The young star is also working on developing her act and production-adding elements like dance and poetry to her stage presence.
“People don’t see women in the industry, and it is so important for us to support each other. I think it starts with us understanding that whatever we bring to the table will be challenged."