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AtLas Deciphers Her 'Hieroglyphics In Crayon'
Thursday, October 09, 2014

AtLas’ solo debut wasn’t supposed to be a long awaited release, but a combination of school and motherhood created a delay. Now, three years after the birth of her son, and having earned her degree from Fordham, AtLas is ready to step into the limelight.

Ironically, having major time consuming life events turned out to be a blessing for AtLas in regards to her music, as the Bronx hip-hop artist notes it led to more intense writing. “The time that I had to devote to writing was less,” she explains, “so the content was that much more potent when I was able to write.”

The result of those efforts is her solo debut, Hieroglyphics in Crayon. AtLas says of the album, “Artistically I was able to express myself on this album because I was able to get a little more in depth, and introduce you more to Trinise, which is my government name, who I like to say is my ghostwriter as AtLas.”

While AtLas is a hip-hop artist, and an emcee, on the lead single off of Hieroglyphics in Crayon she makes it clear that there’s one thing she isn’t, and that’s a rapper. The song, “I Ain’t No Rapper,” is a product of the frustration she feels with the lack of diversity that’s being offered to hip-hop fans.

“The youth, they don’t know that they have other options,” she explains. “If you are choosing, like actively choosing this is what I want to listen to, that’s one thing, but when you’re being told this is all there is to listen to, that’s frustrating. So ‘I Ain’t No Rapper,’ it essentially expresses the artistic side of being an emcee. I never make any references to rapping. Everything is about coloring, and sketches, and drawing parallels between other art forms.”

With art at the heart of her work, and a history of working with women in hip-hop through both the Hip Hop Sisters organization, and her musical trio GNU, AtLas would love to see the currently expanding popularity of women in hip-hop feature the kind of diversity that existed in the 90s, but she’s not so sure that’s on the horizon.

“The artists that are currently popular, they sound the same,” she laments, “one may be a little more animated than the other, but overall it’s the same thing in a different package, so it doesn’t lead me to believe that the landscape is really changing, it just leads me to believe that it’s the same box of crayons with a couple different colors.”

That said, AtLas adds, “I don’t dislike a Nicki Minaj, or an Iggy Azalea, I just don’t see myself in them, and in any entertainment platform, if you don’t see yourself reflected it makes it difficult for you to enjoy it.”

Despite this, AtLas sees potential for a positive byproduct of Nicki’s and Iggy’s success, saying, “Hopefully it allows people to seek out more. We can’t expect the labels to do it, at least the corporate ones, so I would hope that it allows people to open their own mind and start to question, ‘I wonder if there are any more? Let me do a quick Google search and see what else is out there.’”

Many of those who’ve sought out, and found, Atlas were in attendance two weeks ago for her album release party. The event was hosted by Toni Blackman, Nonchalant drove from Washington, DC to be AtLas’ DJ, and the list of luminaries in the crowd included Homeboy Sandman, who AtLas remembers as standing “front and center.”

Another major name in AtLas’ corner is the legendary MC Lyte, as the two work together as part of the Hip Hop Sisters organization, but according to AtLas none of her high profile friends and coworkers knew a solo project was in the works. “I wanted to stand on my own merit,” she explains, “I didn’t want to call on any favors, or ask anyone for anything with this first project, so that when (recognition) comes later people recognize that it is because of the work that I put in, and not because of whose name is attached to it.”

In lieu of names, AtLas attached something else to Hieroglyphics in Crayon – heart.

“I’m doing this from my heart,” she explains. “I don’t stand on that stage in hopes that I will quote-unquote ‘get on.’ My goal is to educate a group of people, and have them say, ‘I never thought of it that way,’ on whatever the subject matter.”

Hip-hop artist, educator through music, dope emcee, you can call AtLas all of these things... just don’t call her a rapper.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:53 PM  
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