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6 things I learned about my career from GRRRL PRTY

main.jpgAs a music lover in the Twin Cities, I’ve been a big fan of GRRRL PRTY and their fun, loud, unapologetic music. GRRRL PRTY is an all-woman rap collective made of Manchita, Sophia Eris, Lizzo, and DJ Shannon Blowtorch. GRRRL PRTY disbanded this summer so you’ll only be able to catch them at rare reunion performances. While you’ve got that GRRRL PRTY x BIONIK album on repeat, check out what I’ve learned from observing the artists of GRRRL PRTY over the last few years:

Note: I don’t know, and have never met, any of the GRRRLs - all of this is based on seeing them in the Twin Cities music scene over the last few years. Their own personal relationships are probably more complex than how it’s presented to fans like me.

1. Hustle.

All of the GRRRLs have crazy work ethic, putting in the time and energy to own the Twin Cities music scene. Shannon Blowtorch is like EVERYWHERE. She’s always DJing some dance night like TAWST (RIP), hosting mixtapes on Saturday nights on the Current, or at some other awesome event. She DJ’ed RT Rybak’s un-inauguration and book release parties, which are, like, the ultimate Minneapolis events. Sophia Eris is hustlin’ full time - touring with Lizzo, co-hosting dance nights at the Uptown VFW, DJing weeknights on Go95.3, and somehow finding the time to put out her own album. Manchita has a scorching verse in Infinite Scroll, a track on P.O.S.’ new album chill, dummy. Lizzo is literally everywhere, from SXSW to MTV. When I’m putting in a lot of time and energy on my work and side hustles, I know it’s paying off by making me great at what I do.

2. Find a sponsor.

The common mantra these days is, “Mentors are great, but sponsors are even more important.” A career sponsor is someone who is willing to vouch for you, recommend you for big projects, and be your advocate when it counts. So when Prince asked GRRRL PRTY to play at Paisley Park and offered Lizzo and Sophia Eris a spot on PLECTRUMELECTRUM, his album with 3RDEYEGIRL, that mattered. Prince signaled to the music world to watch these four artists, because he was paying attention to the music they were making.

3. Brand yourself.

You know you want a GRRRL hat. Sophia Eris made them for the others in the group, and of course everyone wanted one. You can’t go to a hip hop show in the Twin Cities without spotting a GRRRL beanie, summer or winter. Before I listened to GRRRL PRTY, I knew about the group because of their simple, great branding and merch. You don’t necessarily need hats with your name on it or a personal website, but live your brand and values through the way you treat people and do your work.

4. Support each other.

My favorite part of this GRRRL PRTY interview with the The Current is the obvious love and respect they have for each other (can someone talk about me the way Manchita talks about Sophia Eris?). It’s truly a collaboration and the women pay special attention to each’s strengths, working together to create powerful music. They show up for each other, on stage and off. Show up for the important people in your life, period.

5. You be you.

Manchita’s talked about how creating music with GRRRL PRTY helped her claim her femininity as a source of power, and she’s also discussed how grief and darkness can both smother and drive creative processes. Through her first solo album, Sophia Eris talked about literally finding her own voice and embracing it (partially through advice from one of her mentors, Dessa, to stand in a corner and talk or sing just to hear her voice). Shannon Blowtorch’s deep in indie queer dance scenes, and she comes across as unapologetically herself. Even the lyrics of My Skin makes it obvious that that Lizzo embraces her blackness and herself. Only the women in GRRRL PRTY can be themselves, and only you can be you. Embrace who you are, live into your strengths, and be yourself.

6. Recognize the people who help you.

It seems like any rap or hip hop song released by a Twin Cities artist requires a shout out to LAZERBEAK (only half kidding). LAZERBEAK produces a lot of music, including GRRRL PRTY artists. Both Sophia Eris and Manchita recognized the role that Dessa played as a mentor and role model for them, and for women in the rap and hip hop scene. Lizzo is explicit about the way Minneapolis, as a city, supported and helped launch GRRRL PRTY and Lizzo’s career. As much as the myth of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is a compelling story, no one makes it alone. We receive a lot of support and help from our families, friends, communities and peers. It’s important to say thank you, even if it’s just shouting “LAZERBEAK” at random moments.

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