Red Deer has a healthy and sizable hip-hop culture with many artists, such as Tamra ‘Ms. Teaze’ Nash, trying to get their names out.
What sets Nash apart from the rest is the fact that she is a female trying to break into a predominantly male-dominated genre. Not only that, but her positive outlook, promotion of community focus and fierce determination have carried her through several music video releases and an EP coming out in early 2015.
“I just wanted to be involved in the hip hop scene, so I got involved. I met everyone I could in Red Deer and then I thought I could step up. I had a lot of confidence, which you need – especially being a female. It’s hard because these guys look at you and judge you but I got the respect I wanted which was great.”
Nash began pushing owners to let her perform at their venues where she usually performed as an opening act. One of her first big shows was with Canadian hip-hop artist Moka Only – a huge achievement for her. She later ended up doing a show with rappers Hopsin & Swizz Beatz, which she said was also a big moment for her.
“From there, it was no looking back,” she said.
“The respect was coming in and the buzz was building around Red Deer. I started thinking about how I could use my talents to give back to my community, because I’ve lived here my whole life.”
Nash started organizing benefit concert shows that raised funds for groups such as the Canadian Cancer Society and the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.
A few of these concerts were held and then Nash released her first music video titled Boom City – a slang term for Red Deer.
She went on to release four more music videos, but said that a particular song sticks out to her and remains close to her heart.
“I was inspired to write This Is Me because I had learned about a few kids who had committed suicide. I work at the Collicutt and these kids all of a sudden stopped coming and I was confused and heartbroken,” Nash said.
“I wrote that song about bullying and was later approached by a campaign manager who wanted to use my song for stopbullying.com. That was huge. They did an interview with me and used my song for a campaign that they had.”
Nash said her passion for her community drives her to write about songs with meaning. She said people will never hear her rap about guns or violence, unless she is trying to, “Spin it with a positive message.
“I make music for the everyday life of a human being. If people ask me who my influences are, I’ll say people – their struggles, the hardships – I know it sounds cliché but that is what inspires me. That’s what motivates me to write. I want to be a voice. I want respect and I want to be real.”
Recently Nash was able to snag a spot as an opener for underground rap sensation Tech N9ne when he performed at the Memorial Centre. She said that she has always wanted to do a show at the Memorial Centre and that this performance was one of her favourites.
Nash said that the best part of performing and being a hip-hop artist in Red Deer is the support that she has from her circle of friends. Red Deer has a fairly large group of aspiring hip-hop artists, and Nash said that most of them are friends and are happy to support each other.
“The hip-hop family in Red Deer is one of the tightest in Alberta. We support each other and love each other and that is so important in this community. We commend each other after shows and they show me a lot of support as a female artist,” said Nash.
“For lots of people, they look at it as competition and it’s okay to have a little bit of that, but too much just causes problems. We are a tight family and have so much respect for each other. I don’t even want to leave the City because there is just so much support here.”
Along with recording and working on her music, Nash teamed up with local Erin Buhr and the two of them created a documentary on the hip-hop scene in Red Deer, titled The RD Project. They gathered every artist they knew and the film even premiered at Carnival Cinemas.
Nash has created a name for herself by opening for quite a few famous artists including Swollen Members, Apathy, Redman and Mos Def. She was the first female hip-hop artist to ever play the Alberta’s Own Festival and performed this year at Nuit Blanche.
Her six-song EP will be available in early 2015 with no official release date yet. Her most recent song Cold Spells was co-written and performed with Erin Buhr. All of her music videos are available on YouTube.
“Everything that I’ve gotten to do was because of my supporters and friends and family. You have to have love in your own City before they love you anywhere else, and I have that,” Nash said.
“I have the respect I wanted and now it’s time to soar.”