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Trailblazers: Meet the Creatives Episode 9: Illfamed, Emcee and Poet

Mi Gente Happy Sunday!

After a quick break today we drop the last episode of Trailblazers: Meet The Creatives featuring Illfamed, Chilean-Peruvian emcee, storyteller, and poet who attended the Business of Art Workshop and while juggling family and her creative work has stay focused and determined to complete her album: Sangre, Corazon y Rimas,

Today, exclusively in this interview she shared with us a few tracks: they are fiyaaa! Make sure you listen to them and connect with her!

It has been a pleasure and honor to use this platform to share so many incredible Creatives but that is not the end of Trailblazers: Meet The Creatives, stay tuned there is much more in store from us!

Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do.

My name is Maria, my stage name is Illfamed, Mala Fama in Spanish. I am a mother, emcee, poet, and writer.

What’s your background?

I am a Latina. I am Peruvian and Chilean. I was born in the U.S. my parents migrated from Peru in the late 70’s early 80’s. We moved around a lot growing up. Most of my childhood was spent in Cleveland, Ohio, we then moved to Jersey where again we moved around. I later moved to Brooklyn and it became the second permanent place that I lived in the longest after Cleveland.

Define your artistry…
An emcee is a mic controller, a lyricist, a storyteller, a poet, demands attention, moves the crowd, provides a voice to the unheard, brings awareness. I do all of that, only in two languages: English and Spanish. Music and beats move me.

What inspires you?

Depends on the day. Some days I would like to say, my mom. I’ve seen her work so hard as a housekeeper growing up that it reminds me to keep my head up y seguir luchando hacia adelante, for what you need and what you want. Other days, women who look like me, meaning other Latinas who are first generation born in the U.S., first to go to college, first to make it happen on another level for their family, for their ancestors. The women that I see my past, present and future in. Las de allá las de aqui y las que somos de los dos lados. And on most days, my two toddlers:  they are my biggest inspiration because they watch every move I make, I am setting an example and creating the foundation of what they need to do to be successful. I have to be transparent so that I can pave a better way for them. I gotta keep it moving forward, nunca pa’tras.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

One time, after a show, a guy came up to me and repeated one of my lines word for word, and was like: “YO, that right there was hot!” I love hearing when someone can relate or just really vibe to what I’m saying.

A close friend once shared with me that having “Keep Ya Head Up” on repeat helped her get through college. It’s crazy because I wrote that song to help keep myself motivated to continue college and not drop out. Things were tough and I didn’t have an older sibling or relative that could go to for advice on navigating the system of higher ed. I had to figure it out on my own and had to use music to help me get through it. It feels good knowing your words helped to motivate someone and helped support them. That’s what music does, right?

Another time, I met Keith Murray at B.B. Kings, and after my homegirls were telling him I could rap, last minute out the blue he invites me on stage to go rhyme with him.  Tony Touch was dj’ing his set and I got to spit to a large crowd that vibed with me while he was spinning. It was crazy and out of the blue. After I spit a few bars I looked out at the crowd and was like, “Where are my Peruvians at that love hip hop?” and one sole hand went up, it was Immortal Technique, a fellow Peruano emcee who told me, “No matter what, always keep going, don’t stop, don’t give up.” That was a memorable night for me.

Another memorable response was when I actually got paid to do a track. I mean, I love music and the art of it but love doesn’t pay the bills! So being paid for my creative work and time felt great!

Who are your biggest influences?

I grew up listening to 90’s hip hop outside the house and 80’s, 90’s salsa, cumbia and boleros in the house. I’m influenced by those that have created amazing music that at some point in my life, saved me, healed me and/or moved me. Selena, Lauryn Hill, La India, Nas, Wu-Tang, Boot Camp Click, Queen Latifah, Proyecto Uno, Vico C, and so many more. Outside of music, my influences also include poetry and books. And of course, life, seeing the immigrant struggle growing up on different levels and seeing how many have succeeded at overcoming obstacles; racism, language barriers, etc.

Should art be funded? Why?

Of course, art should be funded. We fund athletics, we fund politics, we fund science, we fund corporations, why not art? There is a need to encourage creativity in the arts, music, dance, theater. We do not all grow up with access to these things and because of the lack of funding, many neighborhoods are not able to provide programs within their communities. Hard work beats talent they say, let’s give artists the tools they need to cultivate their talents with that hard work. We should be providing funding for artists with children to have access to these programs, families need to be supported, children should see their parents follow their dreams and be successful in doing so. Funding helps those artists that would otherwise not be able to attend a workshop, class, or create a project.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To always be me and speak my truth. To be confident in my God-given talent. To remain humble and practice gratitude. It has allowed me to appreciate it much more. To use my phone to record or jot down those random ideas that pop up when I don’t have a pen handy.

What is your dream project?

In regards to music, there are a few people I would love to collaborate and make music with, Anita Tijoux, La Bruja, Mala Rodriguez, Lah Tere, Ivy Queen, and so many other dope female artists. A dream project would be to do a track with strictly Latina emcees and just go all out showing that in this male-dominated industry las mujeres si pueden y hasta lo hacemos mejor. I’m just saying.

What’s next for Illfamed?

I am currently working on my album/book titled: Sangre, Corazon y Rimas, it is a collection of poems and songs that will be out in a very different digital format. Soon you will see.

I’m always looking for new beats and producers to work with creatively, so I am open to where that can go.

Illfamed/Mala Fama is an emcee/poet/artist/writer/Latina/human being, who has been writing since she could remember. Starting with poetry and short stories, ILLFAMED then dove deep into Hip Hop, her first love at age 12. Born in the U.S. to Peruvian and Chilean parents, Ill has used her culture, upbringing, and experiences to drive her music and poetry. Weaving thought-provoking lyrics through melodic beats, Illfamed has performed and battled at various venues in the underground scene throughout NYC, including EOW, S.O.B.’s, Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe, Capicu and more. She is currently working on her album.


Instagram: @malafama_illfamed_

Facebook: Illfamed Mala Fama

Soundcloud: https://m.soundcloud.com/illfamed_malafama

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About wendyang

Wendy Angulo is a New York City born Latina, raised in Caracas, Venezuela. Wendy is a mother, writer, lawyer and the founder of Wendy Angulo Productions, an organization whose goal is to support, encourage, and promote poetry and visual arts in the borough of Queens. Wendy, re-discovered her love for writing in the summer of 2011 after attending a spoken word event in Queens. She then joined the New York City Latina Writers Group where she has been an active member and has taken on the role as the organization’s Program Director. Wendy is an essayist who is currently working on her Memoir. She has read her work at several venues throughout New York City, including Nuyorican’s Poets Cafe, East Harlem Cafe, Sankofa Sisterhood, Camaradas and has been published in the online journal Mom Egg Review; she is a 2016 VONA alum and the sole creator/curator and producer of Canvas of Words, an art and poetry showcase that birthed of Wendy’s desire to bring the arts back to her beloved borough of Queens. Wendy continues to scout for new talent and build new connections to perpetuate the arts and strengthen the literary community.

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