Throughout my experience as a blogger, I have come in contact with creators who are getting their names heard whether it’s through music, art, fashion, photography, etc. The Edmonton music scene has been taking off in local underground clubs and for the longest time, my curiosity has remained at an all-time high. It wasn’t until I approached a young lady at a rooftop party at Black Dog last year and my semi-drunk self began to ask her questions about Gucci Mane and how I would low key creep her Instagram account. This girl is so hip-hop, she got a pet kitten named Real Hip-Hop! Her name is Sarah aka Hoodjoplin. Hood Joplin is a local DJ/producer/ sneaker guru / overall Bapesta in Edmonton who has gained quite the notoriety through not only her Twitter account, but also her Soundcloud account where she consistently drops new mixes. While being signed to Manicure Records, Hoodjoplin is seen specializing her craft creating 160 bpm (beats per minute) footwork tracks and turn up rap music. I was so intrigued by Hood Joplin’s musical aesthetic and positive attitude that I wanted to shine a light on her and look into how she styles her life by capturing a few shots of her in Downtown Calgary in a VFiles puffer jacket plus a short interview below. To get a auditory taste of what Hood Joplin’s mixes sound like, peep the track she dropped this past Sunday on Soundcloud below called DROP TOP:
1.) Tell me about yourself:
Yo! I’m HJ from southside seven-eight-oh. I’m a DJ/producer/music lover and a mom to a few plants.
2.) Where did your appreciation for music come from?
Rap was the first medium in pop culture that I identified with; I was introduced to it through initially through my cousins and Rap City late night on Much. Started researching and discovering underground and seeing what a diverse scene it was, not just people flossin’ on TV. I discovered how DIY the music was and, after waiting for my fears of entry to dissolve (and they still haven’t fully disappeared) I tried to make a contribution to the scene.
3.) Tell me about the first beat you made?
My first beats were trash, but they were my first steps on this path I’m taking. I think everyone who starts out making beats gets hyped off of hearing an 8 bar loop of 808 samples, it gets you lifted. After you hear that beat on loop for awhile and then putting on a Dilla track or something, you realize that you haven’t even scratched the surface. I’ve only just left the beginning stage of being comfortable with soft/hardware, understanding dynamic sequencing, just getting the sounds in my mind out, more or less…but I still got a long way to go.
4.) Who are your musical influences?
I discovered what production was initially though The Neptunes, everything they touched turned to a classic. I’m a huge Kanye stan. Producers and DJs like J Dilla, Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, Kid Koala were a heavy focus of my study. As of recent the people that have my utmost attention are artists like Fatima al Quadiri, NGUZUNGUZU, Sevdaliza, Zeeloopers, and Tommy Genesis. Everyone who puts their personality out there really resonates with me.
5.) Hood Joplin is your stage name, tell me the background story behind such a name?
Few years ago I began studying Janis Joplin. It was weird how much her story paralleled what I was going though at the time. I saw this picture of her, think she was in New York walking down some street in Manhattan right before Pearl was released. She looked like Janis, but a hood version.
6.) Being a female DJ/Producer, was it hard for you to break out into the scene in a male-dominated community?
I had a lot of support getting into the DIY scene here but the club scene is still exclusively men which is a pain. The other DJs and producers in the city, who are mostly men, seem to notice my hustle and I have a mutually respective relationship with everyone. The problems that arise are industry-wide: labels that only house a roster of men is mad problematic, cis-dudes that use female names as an alias (read: marketing tool), promoters that don’t pay you as much (if at all!) as what the men on the bill are getting paid. It’s often difficult to differentiate between paying dues and exploitation. Fucked up shit happens in every industry.
7.) Did you feel that you had to toughen up and get thicker skin?
Quite the opposite of that. Had to peel down a lot of layers and get honest with myself. Honest with intention, process, output…everything. I’ve been burned a few times while my guard is down, but overall I try my best to emit positivity and receive the same.
8.) How do you deal with criticism?
I have three people very close to me who are fully critical of my output, in a really positive way. A lot of the time their words have been valid and I use it to better my craft. Definitely don’t have a bunch of ‘yes wo/men’ around trying to appease me. Other than that I don’t get much hate, people in my circle are generally happy that I’m creating. I guess to answer your question, I process what and why people are saying critical things and try and see/hear my work through their eyes/ears. “I’m sensitive about my shit.” -Erykah Badu
9.) What advice do you have for an aspiring female DJ and/or producer?
Ask yourself why you want to do it and always have that in the back of your head. Figure out what your goals are in this scene and do everything you can to reach them; my first [musical] goal was to make people dance at a show and after my eyes were glued to my controller for half the night, I looked up and saw a room full of people dancing. Baby steps, y’all.
The hardest move is getting yourself set up; you need to go online or ask for help. Your first beats / mixes are going to suck but study the best and realize they were in the exact same spot you are in. If there’s a roadblock, realize that everyone has been in the exact same position and that you have the exact same resources as men do. The only ingredients required are passion and diligence, do this shit every day from the bottom of your heart.
10.) You’re quite active on social media, Twitter preferably, how has social media influenced your creativity?
I spent a lot of time on forums and message boards for quite some time. Once Twitter came to fruition I could connect with everyone in one place all the time— it was a 24/7 shoutbox. Most of the people I talk to online are people I never met but they played a huge part in shaping me. We’d talk everything from sneaker drops to album drops. I had a place where I could discuss hip-hop with people who loved it as much as I do. Seeing people from all over the world starting out like me and just focusing on their passions, and seeing their respective growth and success gives me so much motivation and drive. It shows me that anything is attainable.
I like Twitter; initially it was a way for me to get thoughts out and not racing around my mind. It’s hard for me to filter my thoughts so I do a lot of tweet-and-delete but it’s a good place to get ideas rolling or get something out of your head. It’s interesting to me too how I can not know a single piece of someone’s physical life but have an understanding of their thought processes and observations.
11.) Do you find that people (men in particular) are intimidated by your knowledge of hip-hop music?
I think they’re thrown aback mostly, not intimidated. I think they like to flex or pull a wild card and it phases them that I know who/what they’re talking about. Had this dude a few weeks back trying to floss rap knowledge on the first date, he was acting like I don’t know who Antwon is haha. (He’s cool tho). I know my shit and I find men tend to respect that (or fetishize it, which is fucked up but it happens).
12.)What’s the movement for you this year? Any upcoming shows/gigs?
Lots of things that will be announced soon! I have a show with NEF w/t/q Hip Hop Showcase on April 15 (YEG), special event with BeatRoute on April 22 at Good Luck Bar (YYC), and the next carepackage event will be coming shortly.I have a few more musical releases planned for this year, but the next big drop will be an EP on Drama Hands.
13.) How do you style your life?
Gotta keep the sneakers clean! I used to be a sneakerhead (this resell culture has literally ruined it for me) but I still keep heat on my feet. I’m an OG, been doing this since I was 13 y’all, don’t test me lol. Had a bit of a Hypebeast phase (try a decade..) definitely not shopping exclusively at Haven anymore, but I always like to wear a special piece in every fit. My favourite brands are Cav Empt, Maharishi, Bape, CRUZ, and a few streetwear labels. I like exclusive shit.
14.) Provide your social media platforms (Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr)
Below is a lineup to Hood Joplin’s upcoming shows. The big ones to watch out for is her EP release and Sled Island in Calgary. If you tryna figure out what to do this Friday, catch Hood Joplin in action at Black Dog on Whyte Ave. It’ll be lit, word.
Photo below taken by Levi Manchak