Genesis Be and “Strive Till I Rise” Featured In Washington Square News!

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With her new “Strive Till I Rise” mix-tape slated for an early February release, the Muslim-raised female rapper, Genesis Be, proves to be a canny self-promoter. Citing such disparate influences as Alicia Keys, Outkast and Malcolm X, her mix-tape is uplifting social commentary. It is heavily religious, but those overtones are balanced with more than a few flat-out filthy verses. One of the most notable lines on the album is a cliché of hardscrabble perseverance tempered by the honesty and brute power of her delivery: “As long as I got something to believe in/I strive till I rise or until I stop breathin’.” The line is representative of the inspirational threads running through the rest of her album. The mix-tape is a benefit release produced in conjunction with the philanthropic Of Rags clothing company, which provides aid to communities in Ghana. “Strive Till I Rise” is also the name of her larger awareness campaign, one with lofty goals: The official “Strive” acronym is “Systematic Transformation Reversing Ignorance Via Entertainment.” But Be describes the slogan as “a mantra that speaks to the ambition and persistence that lives in all human beings.” Be is always aware of what exactly her role is. “It’s true that I’m a rapper, but above that I am a businesswoman, an entrepreneur and an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” she said. Weaving activism or a political message into your music is notoriously difficult; for every “credible” melding that people might see in a chest-thumping Bono there is a clumsy-lipped M.I.A. But with “Strive Till I Rise,” Be says she’s found her ideal outlet for attempting to raise awareness even if the musical aspect potentially falls flat. “This is what I’ve been looking for,” she says, “a movement that I can stand behind and promote, whether this rap thing works out or not.”

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