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Married to the Hustle: The Interview

Photo by Nina Parks. Photo Color & Retouch by Lady Lexx

On Valentine’s Day, we dropped the much anticipated “Married to the Hustle? mixtape by EyeASage and today, we bring you the interview with the lady behind the moniker, EyeASage—Ms. Krishtine de Leon (many apologies for the delay!)! Now, don’t let the length of this interview scare you, this lady has a lot of important knowledge to share and you’re going to want to read about it. Also, check the handwritten survey at the end of the interview. Let’s get on it!

M.I.S.S. Crew: Ok, let’s start off with where the name “EyeASage? came from?

EyeASage: EyeSage started off as—you know how Eminem’s name is M and M for Marshall Mathers? Well, “EyeSage? started when I got into college. My friends use to call me Ish and so it was I-S-H, or “I A Sage?. Sage is like a learned and respected name. So it’s like a double entendre. It basically means, “I am a wise and respected person.?

M.I.S.S. Crew: Your target audience—who are they and is there an overall message you want to deliver to them?

EyeASage: I would say my target audience is young women, you know, but I want my message to be for everyone. I’m sure that young women would be able to relate. I think there’s a lack of presence of young women in music and in Hip Hop, especially now. Coming from an era where there were just as many female rappers as there were male rappers, you wouldn’t have to say, “She’s a female emcee.? You would just say, “She’s an emcee.? And coming from that to now, where there are only a handful of female rappers and they’re hyper sexualized. Misogyny in hip-hop is so rampant that it’s almost not welcoming. I address that in my song, “Find Me? and I think that my target audience is basically, anyone who’s willing to see a balance restored in Hip Hop and I think that people are hungry for it—so, anyone who’s willing to listen, really.

(Get more after the jump!)

Photo & Retouch by Amanda Lopez. Photo Color by Lady Lexx

M.I.S.S. Crew: That goes into my next question, do you want to be seen as “EyeASage, the female rapper? or just “the rapper,? and do you think that there’s a difference?

EyeASage: Oh, yea, definitely. I mean, when I first came out, I came out as a part of a group called the Rhapsodistas and we all met through organizing the Filipino community. We’re a part of League of Filipino Students and when we came out we wanted to make sure we weren’t seen as a novelty act, like, “Hey, let’s see women rappers, let’s put them on stage because they’re cute and they dress cute and they look cute,? but we had a political message behind our music because there’s a lot of stuff going on back home in the Philippines that we wanted people to be aware of. At that time spoken word was so played out that, it just wasn’t universal enough for us. I do songs that are, as a woman, natural for me to do but I also make sure that I don’t alienate the opposite gender. That’s where some people can be like, you’re a feminist or you’re woman centered but I really want to make sure that I’m inclusive of men, too because we got to support our brothers in the struggle, you know and you got to support. In order to get their support I gotta support them, too. I don’t wanna come out being like, oh, she’s this bitter woman rapper because a woman, who talks about issues that are critical, shouldn’t be seen that way.

M.I.S.S. Crew: Yea, let’s talk further about that topic. Most ladies are afraid to embrace the word “Feminist? because the word is associated with being a “man-hater.? Some would rather call themselves a bitch before ever calling themselves a feminist. What’s your take on the word?

EyeASage: I think that, the word Feminist has left a bad taste in people’s mouths because a lot of the people who organized in the ‘70s were bugouise feminists. They were upper-middle class white women and they didn’t really include class in their struggle. They were basically saying that upper-middle class men have rights, what about these upper-middle class women? They were not taking into context, race or socio-economic background and so I think that their front was that they had privilege. They were able to say, we don’t need men, we’re going to burn our bras and be in solidarity and some women were turned-off by that because they didn’t want to be seen as these raging feminists who don’t shave their armpits and hate men, so they disowned that term. I think that Bell Hooks was the one to use the word “Womanist? because feminists had such a bad rap. I think that it’s okay to be a feminist, it’s ok to own the feminine aspects and to support other women but it’s sad that some think they will get automatically labeled as a “man-hater? if they’re self-proclaimed feminists, disowning that term. I think it’s doing a huge disservice to all the work that the feminist movement has done for women and especially women of color.

I do consider myself a feminist; I don’t give a fuck what people say! They’re going to say whatever they want, anyway. I don’t hate men! I love men—but I would love them more if they would try to understand our issues and if they were in solidarity with their sisters, you know?

M.I.S.S. Crew: As a female in the music industry, do you have hope that views of women will change and do you feel pressured to further the view that women need to be respected in Hip Hop or do you feel that the example has to be set somewhere else?

EyeASage: I started off rapping, in my own journals and I felt like I didn’t know what my own message was. I felt very conflicted about being a female rapper. When I was in middle school, gangster rap was out and it was, bitches this, hoes that, and I went through this stage of, am I going to call myself a bitch and come out hard? I was the only person that saw those journals and it was an evolution of me—of being comfortable with who I was.

When I got into college, I still was rapping to myself but I finally knew what that message was. I wasn’t there to please anyone else but myself. So, do I think that there is hope that views will change? I do! There are a lot of dope women out there and I think that it’s more about balance and I think that people shouldn’t feel pressured to fill that void because when you’re only writing for someone else, you’re not being true to yourself, whether it’s progressive or not.

I just don’t want to be preachy, I don’t want to be someone who’s like, oh, she’s telling me how fucked-up I am towards my girlfriend. I just want to set an example by my actions, rather than my words. I don’t want to not practice what I preach. I don’t want it to be all about me telling you how to act because I think that’s what turns off a lot of men when they listen to women. Misogyny is so rampant in society, that if anybody tries to have a positive message, they feel like, oh, you’re just nagging me about things that are the way they are—things are never going to change. I’m hopeful that they will. If you listen to my music there’s a way for me to address reality. I also hope that there are people out there that can see change and good in society.

Photo & Retouch by Amanda Lopez. Photo Color by Lady Lexx

M.I.S.S. Crew: When I first heard the “Married to the Hustle? mixtape, my first thought was, “Whoa. She’s raw!? Your sound is very West Coast but I also hear some East Coast flavor in it. Tell us about your influences? You said you evolved from gangster rap. What else influences your music?

EyeASage: Well, my influences come directly from where I’m from—the Bay Area. My influences are chronological. When I was little, I grew up listening to a lot of Salt N Peppa, MC Lyte, and Monie Love and when I was in middle school, it was gangster rap. But when I was in high school, Lil’ Kim came out and she was that person who really blurred the line between exploiting her sexuality and owning it!

A lot of my influences come from West Coast, for sure. I didn’t get into the entire scope of Hip Hop until I got to college. That’s where I started to really look at it critically as a reflection of society, rather than something I just listened to on the radio.

I felt that Hip Hop could universally connect me with a lot of people. To keep it short, I was looking for a consciousness. I was finding out who I was. Hopefully what you hear from my music is an influence from the women in hip hop, past and present, who are not afraid to be who they really are in front of their male counterparts, so hopefully you hear that in my music.

M.I.S.S. Crew: Besides our influences, we look within ourselves and our experiences, for what we put out there creatively, are there any experiences, positive or negative, that you want to tell us about, that really gave you the passion and drive to make music?

EyeASage: There aren’t any specific instances but growing up in the city, as an inner city youth, there are not many options for young woman of color, in terms of what they want to be and for me as a journalist and as a woman rapper, period, it’s very rare for a person to really get respect and some clout from that.

A line from one of my songs is “…the inner city was a trap/ so I learned how to rap/ Salt N Peppa and Monie Love/ man, they had my back…? and it goes on. I had my pen and I had my pad. Both are things I could easily get a hold of. We didn’t have music or ballet classes. Writing poems in my journals evolved into me writing raps and being infatuated with Hip Hop, becoming a journalist, and then later lead to me pursuing rap.

M.I.S.S. Crew: Tell us about “Married to the Hustle.? Is there more to the name than meets the eye?

EyeASage: Wow. Ok. Well, it’s actually kinda deep. There was a time where I was really getting into journalism and I was in a relationship and it was hard to juggle both. It was hard to decide what I really wanted to pursue because both were taking up so much of my time.

I eventually decided to get out of that relationship and pursue the things that I wanted to do. I was being productive. I was like, man, I need be married to the hustle! That is my one monogamous relationship right now, you know. I took that vow and now, no matter what comes to me, my progression, my endeavors, and my ambitions come first. Everything else comes after, including relationships. Women are very emotional people. We look for love any way we can but we don’t even know what it looks like! Until we find out who we really are, we should pursue our ambitions and hope for success. The love will come later.

My song, “The Cupcake Commandments? is kinda like the doctrine of the “Love-Hater? movement. There are rules in there for every woman who is about putting herself first. It’s about find true love by putting yourself first. It’s about making a vow that you’re going to live out your dreams unapologetically and until then you’re not ready to fulfill anyone else’s obligations.

M.I.S.S. Crew: Yes! That whole message is what girls are lacking right now. We go through life never hearing any of that. It’s definitely something we have to realize on our own but it’s good to hear a women rap about putting herself first. I’m glad you’re making that a big part of your music. This mixtape is the beginning of something big! Who are some artists or producers you’d want to work with in the future?

EyeASage: I’ve always been someone who loves to work with local people first. I’d love to work with people that I respect like San Quinn or the Jacka. I would owe it to myself and owe it to my fans to get down with the hometown heroes before I get down with anyone else.

M.I.S.S. Crew: Tell M.I.S.S. Crew readers why they should listen to EyeASage?

EyeASage: It’s less why and more like, why not?! There’s so much crap out there and I think people are hungry for something different. Everything I say in this mixtape is something that I’m 100% behind. I’m totally responsible for all the words I put out there and I think more artists should be that way. There are also a lot of songs on the mix where we could just have fun and be girls. I really tried to cover all bases. That’s what it is…

M.I.S.S. Crew: So that’s what it is, ladies! You’ve read the interview, now check the handwritten survey below. Spread the word— EyeASage is the TRUTH!

Thanks to Mama Clothing and EyeASage for allowing M.I.S.S. Crew to share this free download with our readers! If you have yet to download the mix, click on the image below to download! Also, please give love to the credits below! // EyeASage Musik // Guerilla Busfare

Nina Parks Photography // Amanda Lopez Photography // Design by Lady Lexx

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4 Responses to “Married to the Hustle: The Interview”

  1. justafan from the town says:

    EyeASage is one of the dopest Emcees coming out of the bay. This mixtape is a dope ass preview of things to come i’ve been bumpin married to the hustle in my ride since i cop’d it…she got flows!!!! repp’n the bay!

  2. Nina Parks says:

    LHM For LIFE!!! This Mixtape Go! (and when I say “it go” for all those none bay affliates. I mean it hit hard, in Lyrical content and in Beat) For all young women The movement is recruiting. Stop walking around half dead and get “Married to the Hustle.”

  3. Krish EyeASage says:

    I can’t believe I quoted Gandhi. Soo cliche! (I knew I would regret it and cringe, although it is a good one.)

    Here’s the real one, Gab & Lexx:

    “Don’t let school get in the way of your education” – Unknown

  4. I just want to say about Married to the hustle and by the way had the“The Cupcake Commandments? on my myspace for about a month, that eyeasage is someone I admire.As a mother with 2 teenager daughter and had started young in my life, I was and still am married to the hustle. I love how she tries to show young ladies that they are individuals and they can stand strong and do anything they want and that no man is above them. Women are equal and they could do anything they want if they hustle. I just want her to keep doing what she is doing, we need more Filipina Americans to help our girls grow in to strong ladies with a voice. BTW my oldest is a writer too, she just came back from NY for the journalism convention, now thats hustling at her age.


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