Born in Dublin (Ireland) and predominantly raised in Cape Town since the tender age of 5, Nyota Parker is a rapper, vocalist, songwriter and composer who makes a unique blend of music she has dubbed Trazz – a portmanteau of trap (a sub genre of hip hop) and jazz.
Having started writing, recording and performing professionally in 2016, she boasts two projects under her belt and she says that her music is about breaking the boundaries of society. Ardent on not being referred to as a female rapper, because she believes that music is non-binary, the conscious lyricist covers a wide array of subjects in her music; including love, spirituality and other societal issues.
We caught up with Nyota to discuss her musical journey and influences.
Tell us about your stage name. What does it mean and does it have a significant link to your music?
So, Nyota is my actual original name and I decided to carry it into my career as my stage name too. I don’t even think it’s a coincidence that my mom named me Nyota because in Swahili it means “Star”.
How did the decision to combine hip hop and jazz come about? Was it influenced by the type of music you were surrounded by as a child?
What influenced me to combine hip hop and jazz together was because of the types of music I grew up listening to. Hip hop came first and then jazz and neo-soul was much later. I have a passion for both so I decided that I needed to fuse both of these genres and really own it. I came up with the title “Trazz” for my unique infusion of trap and jazz.
What sets you apart from other young hip hop artists?
I know what sets me apart from other young hip hop artists is the fact that I don’t conform to society and all it’s standards and limits. My content is all about that and how to break societal boundaries in whatever industry you venture into. For example, I break boundaries when it comes to gender roles and stereotypes – I don’t like being called a “female rapper” because music has absolutely no gender. It’s silly to think that you can rate talent based on gender and to think that a person of another gender can’t be as good as man is ridiculous.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
My biggest music influences are Tom Misch, Nicki Minaj and The Internet. All of these creatives bring different elements to the table that I admire so much.
How is your second EP “The Purification Project” different from your debut mixtape, “Age of Enlightenment“?
I would say that The Purification Project EP is different to my mixtape because it has a more solid and focused sound. My mixtape was more experimental than my EP. My EP is like a sequel to my mixtape because first comes enlightenment and then comes the purification of the mindset.
If you had to choose one song from The Purification Project, which one would it be and why?
I would choose “Welcome 2 My Mind” because this really shows my supporters and shows the world what the inside of my mind is filled with. It’s really an introduction to what I’m about and what I want the world to understand about my mindset.
What has been your biggest highlight thus far?
I would say one of my biggest highlights so far was my performance at the Festive Lights Switch On, here in Cape Town, in front of 100 000 people. And there are so many more things I’m so grateful for – I’ve managed to share the same stage with people like Nasty C, Distruction Boyz, Cassper Nyovest, Youngsta CPT, Okmalumkoolkat, Black Motion, Shekhinah, Anatii, Gemini Major, DJ Dimplez (he DJ’d for me once) and many more. I’ve worked with RedBull on a few projects and I’m so thankful for that too.
What is your message to other young girls who are interested in getting into the music industry?
My message is simple. Don’t let society mold you. And don’t let anyone tell you anything about your gender. Be THE BEST, full stop. Not “the best female”.
As we head into the festive season, what are your plans in terms of gigs and performances and how do you plan on celebrating Christmas?
A lot of gigs and shows are still to be confirmed and I will be sure to let people know through social media. I plan to spend my Christmas with my mom, as usual, and with my close friends. I plan on performing at a few festivals that are coming up!
Connect with @NyotaParker on Instagram or @Nyotaoffocially on Twitter