Sinzere 4 the New Year: What it means to be a female MC [Interview]
Calgary, AB – Calgary’s 24-year-old MC, Shanice “Sinzere 4 the New Year” Connolly, is fresh off the release of her May 2013 mixtape, Pep Rally. “[Pep Rally] represents a gathering,” said Connolly. And the mixtape is just that—a gathering. It combines unapologetic femininity with samples of some of the most prevalent hip-hop tracks of the year. “I always start with a beat,” said Connolly. “And then it just kind of comes to me—it flows out.”
The 10-track tape oozes girl power, with borrowed samples from Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, and more. Though Sinzere’s verses are cocky and overzealous, she presents as composed and thoughtful—almost timid— in person. “It’s always amazing to see girls get more involved in anything,” said Connolly. “More femcees is always great. I love to see women empowerment [and] strength.”
Sinzere was raised by her mother, Althea, and learned to identify with strong, feisty females at a very young age. She cites Queen Latifah and Azealia Banks as two of her favourte female rappers, but admits that her mother will always be her biggest influencer. “You’ll see my mom with me everywhere I go. She’s my hero,” said Connolly. And Althea is just as encouraging of her daughter. “She has swag. She’s a package,” boasts Althea. “I’m good at loud — I can talk you out of your shirt. [But] she’s a musician. It speaks for itself.” When Sinzere was six months old, her substance-addicted father left the family. After an impromptu move out to Toronto found the Connollys in an abusive living situation, the family moved back to Calgary for a fresh start.
Sinzere entered the hip-hop scene as a dancer-choreographer with the Rebel Squad dance crew. Her involvement in the hip-hop scene grew in “levels.” ”It wasn’t hip-hop right away,” said Connolly. She linked up with the late dancehall-reggae DJ, Alston George “Blacka” Smith, and made the crossover from choreography into DJing. Sinzere opened for reggae legends Elephant Man, Serani, and more. As a female in a male-dominated industry, she found that performing was incredibly liberating. “I think we, as women, just interact with people better,” said Connolly.
But in May 2009, Smith was stabbed after a fight broke out at a private party in Calgary at the Penbrooke Meadows Community Association. Sinzere was devastated by the loss of her mentor and closed the book on her turn-tabling career. But the loss caused her to tread into new territory: rapping. “[Blacka’s death] made me want to talk about things. It made me want to explore my emotions,” said Connolly. Sinzere began penning her own verses and released her debut mixtape, Fashionably Late, in 2011.
Sinzere has been fully dedicated to her craft since the drop of Fashionably Late. “[My mom is] the reason I’m going a lot harder now,” said Connolly. “I took some time off, for the first time, [and] she actually came and told me, ‘You can’t take time off.’” When Sinzere isn’t crafting her raps or sifting through beats, she works at her mother’s salon, Differenz Trenz Salon & Spa in southeast Calgary. She’s the pedicure lady— even though she hates feet. “It’s a long process. But [I do it] for my mom,” she said.
Sinzere occasionally performs at the monthly 10 at 10 Hip-Hop Showcase and gushes enthusiasm for the development of Calgary’s hip-hop scene. “The community will grow when you do have those artists who will stand for your city,” she said. “I will be that artist. I am that artist.”
Photography by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
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