In a male-dominated industry like music, one can be hard-pressed to find any real exposure for women who are just as talented as their male counterparts. What we know to be true is that there are scores of women rappers who have made a significant impact in hip-hop culture.. Chicago rap legend NewSense of the rap group PsychoDrama has been a consistent force in the landscape of Chicago hip-hop. She has become a voice that speaks to freedom, peace and Black people understanding and using the political process to their advantage. Her voice is powerful and dedicated. NewSense is blazing a trail and making history every day. We had the opportunity to speak with her to discuss her views.
Tell everyone who you are.
I am NewSense, Queen of Chicago rap and hip-hop; 1/3 member of Chicago’s most infamous and legendary underground rap group, PsychoDrama.
How does it feel to be so respected and looked at as a pioneer of Chicago hip-hop?
First of all, it’s humbling. It took a while for me to realize so many people looked up to me and depended on me to be their beacon, so to speak. It also feels awesome! To be able to go where I want throughout the city and be treated like royalty is a Chicago girl’s dream. Our city is so beautiful and full of arts and culture; and being a part of that landscape is truly an honor. I make conscious efforts not to take improper advantage of that privilege.
What was it that makes what you do with regard to music different?
My group and I have been asked that question over and over, and there still is no real answer. We don’t try to make music, so there is nothing that we, or I, do in particular. I don’t do or make music, I am music! So it’s hard for me to point out a difference. It’s like asking the sun what did it do to be different from the other stars. It’s like, I didn’t do anything different, I’m just the sun and they are other stars!
You have managed to take the influence that you have and use it to make the Black community more aware of the political process. Why did you choose to do this and why is it important?
It’s interesting because my dance with politics isn’t a Black thing. I don’t go in thinking “Oh, I need to wake up Black people to politics.” I got into politics because I wanted Chicago hip hop to win as a whole, not just Blacks. We have the most talented urban artists in the world, yet a city that’s #1 in distribution across America and has its largest economy, hasn’t managed to create an industrial outlet for its artists. I wanted to know why and in that search I found that the main reason for this was because there was no marriage between politics, government and the urban creative scene here and I wanted to bridge the gap.
Why do you think it is important for artists to leverage their influence with respect to matters that affect the masses?
It’s word power. It’s as simple as that. Words have power! They are influential, impressionable and have the ability to heal and transform, they have the ability to harm and tear down. In today’s world we need all of the positivity and hope we can get. To have such a great power and influence through words is nothing to take for granted. We must use this power for good and progression, otherwise, we speak death on the world.
What are your thoughts on the violence that won’t seem to diminish in the city of Chicago?
I have many. One is that word power I just got through speaking of. The negative impressions left via music and multimedia outlets can hypnotize an unconscious mind, so these youth are acting out what they are being fed as “reality”. Another is that we need to drop focus on the crime and shift to the good. Energy is everything and we give the negatives way too much energy than the positives. Violent offenders in the city doesn’t even amount to .5 percent of the population but we treat it as though they’re the majority. We should also bring back public trials and let the people decide how to handle citizens that murder. Hang a few cold blooded, heartless killers in the public square, or make the military mandatory. I don’t know; anything that will make potential murderers think twice about killing senselessly. But glamorizing their crimes by having a tally on the news every day isn’t the best way to stop it. If someone maliciously kills a family member the family should have the say in what happens to them.
You have been seen in the presence of many powerful politicians in the city, everyone from the likes of Rahm Emanuel to the city treasurer, Kurt Summers. What have you learned about city politics by keeping this company?
I learned that in 2016 the issue of Black disempowerment is a Black issue. It’s less systematic racism and more of us not caring and allowing “black leadership” to dictate everything. I’ve learned that politics is designed to empower individuals and groups of people and it’s not a game of emotion. I’ve learned that Mayor Emanuel, although he’s a bit disconnected is not the monster that people is trying to portray him to be. If anything I blame him for trying to be too “by the book” when following laws and ethics that predates his administration knowing that it’s bs. I’ve learned that whether I win or lose depends on my level of emotional intelligence. Politics isn’t for the weak and emotional. I’ve also learned that Treasurer Kurt Summers is the best thing to happen to Chicago since Mayor Harold Washington, and I’m betting he’s our next mayor.
What do you think Black people lack with regard to their understanding of the political process?
I believe we have a hard time letting go of “entitlement syndrome.” We don’t go get what’s ours, we wait around for people to tell us what’s ours. We are in collective identity crisis; and the only thing that can bring us back is to awaken consciously, something politics and Black “leadership” can’t provide.
What new projects do you have coming up? What type of subjects will you be covering?
This summer, I will be releasing a project called “Cuz I Can.” I named it that because folks tend to think you age out of music. I haven’t released a solo project outside of mixtapes in almost 10 years. When the naysayers ask why I waited so long, the answer is “cuz I can!”
What encouraging words do you have for our readers?
Do good, remember you are a part of a whole at all times, seek conscious awakening, accept that everything is energy, and know that a predominant positive mental attitude can produce magic in your life. Just be!