Since they formed in 2000, they've cut a single; called SOCIAL ILLS, a limited edition EP, called INTROSPECTIVE SOUL, and collaborated with funk-soul outfit MOODPHASE5IVE on a song and video for an international AIDS campaign, toured to the USA, Cuba, and The Netherlands.
I'm immediately struck by their sense of purpose. Being the most talked about hip-hop group in the country means pressure. But says EJ, "the pressure's very good because it enables us to strive for our best possible performance."
Who do they emulate? "I can safely say there's no one like us." But they grew up with Michael Jackson, Temptations and a variety of African jazz musicians and singers, they assert that "There's so much music out there in general that you become influenced by so many different things and not just music but experiences and situations as well." Shameema adds, "Public Enemy has definitely been one of my biggest influences as far as hip-hop artists are concerned, not in terms of my music, but in terms of structuring my mind, my mentality, my whole consciousness."
Godessa feel strongly about sexism in hip-hop, but this issue is not one of their main focuses. "Our main objective is to be seen as a hip-hop band, or to be seen as MCs, and not as female MCs per se."
On feminism: "You don't necessarily have to be a feminist to inspire young sisters."
The trio met hip-hop icons like Chuck D of Public Enemy, and Afrika Bambaata at the Planet Hip-hop Festival held in New Jersey, USA. "We didn't get to spend so much time with him", say Shameema, "but Chuck D gave over an hour-long speech on the fundamentals of hip-hop, on race, what it means to be a black person, which was very educational. Afrika Bambaata came across as completely humble people, I was very surprised by that."
A stock question in hip-hop interviews: What are your thoughts on the current state of hip-hop? "F**ked up, man!" says Shameema, and they all laugh. She elaborates: "I see that things are starting to change- with all the negativity, there's also a balance of positivity, the only difference is that the media haven't focused so much on the positive things that are happening." Though the whole commercial industry is messed up, "...there are so many other things happening on a completely different level. That's going to change the future of hip-hop."
Their plans for the future include workshops with youth in Belgium along with other African hip-hop artists in June, a European tour starting in July, and completing their album by the end of the year. They promise a roaring performance on the Bassline stage of the North Sea Jazz Festival on Saturday.
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