Dijah SB: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: Hip-hop with confident delivery and deft lyricism, unafraid to display vulnerability or tackle difficult subjects like depression 

File next to: Young M.A., Haviah Mighty, Tasha The Amazon

Playing: Brothers Dressler, Saturday November 9th @ 16-225 Sterling Road, Toronto. Get tickets here!

Born Kahdijah Payne, but going by Dijah and DijahSB professionally (in tribute to her favourite line of Nike sneakers), the Eglinton West native is a rapper, inspired by artists like Kid Cudi, Pusha T, and Lupe Fiasco, sneaker-head, and mental health advocate who stays busy performing around town and beyond and releasing music including last year’s Looking at Space From a Submarine EP. Wavelength guest curator, Ian Steaman caught up with the up-and-coming rapper to ask her a few questions in advance of her performance at WL 786 on November 9:

You’ve been pursuing hip-hop professionally for the past 8 years. What’s that been like?

It’s been quite the journey to be honest. I’ve done a lot of cool things, travelled, been on major media websites, on stage with one of my favourite artists in the world. I think it’s time for me to level up though. I want this to be my full time career. 

We have a panel later this month focused on mental health in the creative arts space. Besides being a rapper, you’re also known as a mental health advocate. Can you talk about your work in that space and why it’s so important to you and in general?

My work has impacted many people in terms of their mental health. I’ve had people reach out to tell me how much they’ve related to some of the lyrics I’ve recently begun incorporating into my music and that they love my vulnerability and honesty about my own journey. As much as I make music for myself, I also know it’s a big healer and I hope one day people can say my music has helped them as much as I say other artists’ music, like [Kid] Cudi and Jay Electronica, has helped me.

Female hip-hop is really having a moment right now from Cardi, Nicki, Megan to Lizzo, Noname, Tierra Whack etc. How do you see yourself fitting in that wave and within hip-hop as a whole?

I most recently identify as non-binary so I don’t really fit into the female hip-hop category. 

Fair enough.

I don’t think that should even be a thing, as cliche as it sounds. I think rap should just be rap and if you’re dope people will listen. You should listen to my music because you relate, I don’t want me being a woman to be some sort of crutch or put me in a different lane. 

How do you view yourself artistically then?

Sort of low-key. I would really only come out of my house to tour or work on music. The other moments I just want to spend time with my family and friends. I really don’t need things to be glitz and glamour. I just want to live a fulfilling life that is geared by my passion.

You just released a new track, “Range” with Cola H, your second with him after “No Smoke” from earlier this year. Is that the same Cola of Wifetaker fame and can you talk about what the single is about?

(Laughter) I had no idea Cola was in something called that, but yes it is. “Range” just kind of came together. Cola and I have been working on a lot of things together. He’s really been a saviour for me with this hip-hop shit. 

Is “Range” going to be part of a possible full length follow-up to last year’s Looking at Space From a Submarine EP?

It is actually going to be a part of a little EP we’re going to be working on later. Looking at Space From a Submarine is a whole different era but it’s cool that you brought that up because maybe I’ll look into making a full-length follow-up! (more laughter).

That would be fiya!. You’re on a bill for WL Nov 9th with two acts who are not hip-hop related at all. Do you prefer playing those kind of shows, where the audience might not be as familiar with your music or full of hip-hop heads, or is playing on all hip-hop bills your preferred comfort zone?

Honestly with Toronto it’s hard to tell. I really just like a crowd that is engaged. I will always come out and give my 100% no matter the crowd. Some hip-hop shows people come to just stand around so it’s never about who’s on the bill for me, it’s more so who’s in the crowd and actually there to support local artists.

You perform pretty regularly in the city but what can fans who haven’t seen you live yet expect from your performance?

I try to add a joke or two in my set and do most of my more hype stuff to keep people on their toes. 

Well we’re looking forward to it. Finally, what’s your favorite song right now?

My favourite song right now is “Bop” by DaBaby.

Dope joint! Thank you for your time, Dijah.