With a conversational flow and soulful instrumentation, Buffalo’s 7xvethegenius (pronounced: Love The Genius) showcases another side of the city’s overwhelming talent.
7xve, 30, fell in love with music immediately, starting her career in the studio as early as age 10. In the last two decades, then, 7xve has gone through several iterations to find her voice in hip-hop, which was shaped by her coming into consciousness of her expressive power, and the highly artistic side of the city of Buffalo.
“Around 16, I stopped doing music and started shooting videos, producing, and photography,” 7xve tells me over the phone. “What got me back into [music] and shaped my voice is my life experiences.”
7xve continues: “If you ever come to Buffalo, it’s a grimy place, but it’s also a beautiful place. The art museums here are beautiful. It’s an interesting balance. I represent the other side of the same coin.”
7xve’s new EP, Self 7xve, out now, is a testament to growth and self-actualization. Songs range from investigations into what self-love means in the context of romance (“The Thrill”) to commentary on being a woman who deserves to get paid (“Same Hustle”).
The soothing quality of 7xve’s voice is the throughline of Self 7xve, even on the plodding “The Result” when she flexes with conversations of wraiths and getting her money right as opposed to saving the whole world. Also, on the triumphant and lovey “When You Get Home,” there’s a gentleness to this music. It is quiet in all the right ways, making it loud in the spirit. Self 7xve ebbs and flows sweetly, like watching a room being saged. Which is ironic, since track three is named “Sage.” 7xve is more than aware of her strengths and showcases them with hypnotizing ease.
“With my last project, I was doing a lot of recording and running it back to people for their opinion, and making tweaks based on [their opinions],” 7xve recalls. “I didn’t do any of that with this project, because I wanted to get down into the bare bones of myself.” It worked. “I’m still a lady, it’s just… You gotta pay me and stuff,” 7xve dictates on “Same Hustle.” Between the quality of Self 7xve and the depth of 7xve’s personhood, it’s difficult to argue with her.
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: When did music first come into your life?
7xvethegenius: Music has always been in my life. Even when I was a kid… I have a musical family, so I don’t remember music ever not being in my life. I first started making my own music when I was nine. I recorded in a studio when I was 10 or 11. What got me into [music] was realizing the expression, and how fulfilled I was. I kept going from there.
From 10 to now, how did you find your voice in hip-hop? I imagine you went through a lot of iterations of yourself.
A thousand percent! Man, I went through a lot of changes. I went through a lot of different names and sounds. Around 16, I stopped doing music and started shooting videos, producing, and photography. As far as my voice, what got me back into [music] and shaped my voice, is my life experiences. Being inspired by so many different things around me, to the point of realizing I didn’t feel like anybody I was listening to was saying what I wanted to feel. They weren’t giving me what I needed, so that’s how I found my voice.
How did Buffalo shape your voice?
Buffalo is an interesting place! It is New York, but it’s an artistic place as a whole. I know the Griselda guys, I’ve known them since I was 13, but we lived different lives. They talk about street culture. I’ve always leaned more towards the full-on artistic side. If you ever come to Buffalo, it’s a grimy place, but it’s also a beautiful place. The art museums here are beautiful. It’s an interesting balance. I represent the other side of the same coin, if you will.
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Based on your rap name, love is an integral part of your life. What does love mean to you?
The reason I even named myself 7xve is because love is everything I want my music to be and everything I try to express in my music. Love is fun, sad, deep, crazy, outgoing, outspoken, intense. Love is lighthearted. Those are all things I try to portray in my music because those are all things I am as a person.
The new EP, Self 7xve, is all about, well, self-love. How did you get to a place of appreciating and accepting who you are?
I just came in realizing I’m enough. [I was] tired of trying to fit into so many different boxes and things people think I was supposed to be. Especially rapping as a woman coming out of Buffalo. Once I realized I’m just gonna be who I am, that helped me to get into accepting myself as a whole. I don’t know at what point that happened, but it was a bunch of experiences that made me accept myself fully.
What’s been the biggest struggle of your come-up? Breaking is not easy.
It’s not easy at all, especially because it’s just now being done [in Buffalo] with Griselda. The hardest thing so far, for me, is getting people to understand we all represent the same city, but we don’t all have the same sound or story. People expect, just because you come from a place, you have to be exactly like the people they’ve become familiar with. I can rap as good as anybody, but I’m an entirely different feel. It’s like introducing a new city to the masses, getting people to understand the city as a whole; that’s been not the easiest.
On “Same Hustle,” you talk about being a woman who deserves to get paid. What hardships have you experienced?
Both—music and tech—are male-dominated, of course. With music, because people have become used to women, on a large scale, pushing themselves the same way, it’s been hard to get people to understand something else. Women are whole people! I don’t have to necessarily push my sexuality to the full extreme for me to be accepted in music; I shouldn’t be downplayed for my talent. Also, in that same realm, people expect if you’re not extremely sexual, you have to be extremely tough and hard. It’s letting people understand and experience the balance [of womanhood].
What’s been the best part of your come-up?
You know, what’s interesting is everything I’m saying as challenges [are] the same things that excite me. I like the feeling of getting new people to tap into what I’m doing, or broadening the view they have of the city of Buffalo. I like getting in the ring with guys and changing their idea of what a female rapper is. The same [challenges] excite me about [music].
You have a conversational and hypnotizing flow on Self 7xve. How much work went into devising such a catching sound?
With my last project, I wanted to give a platter of different things I can do. I already knew ahead of time, my next project, I wanted to aim more towards myself as an artist and person. It wasn’t hard to get into making Self 7xve, because that’s who I am as a person. I don’t wanna say I’m this super hypnotizing, mesmerizing person—some people say that. I just said I’m not gonna think about making a certain sound and just make what I like and what I’ve wanted to hear. I’ve been waiting for [this sound] to be made, for so long.
Finally, in your press release, you write: “For me right now, especially with quarantine and everything else that’s going on, I feel like people need to get into what matters most.” What matters most to you?
Right now, what matters is my relationship with myself. A lot of people have had time to see certain things about themselves; they may not have noticed before. And loved ones. Family, making sure people are doing well, and doing wellness checks on each other. Another thing I get from this quarantine is that a lot of things that keep us busy, they don’t matter as far as what’s in the core of our being.