Esthero is one artist whose name has flowed through the lips of music connoisseurs as an answer to the question of who is on the verge of taking over music. Citing Esthero comes with just cause, as the Toronto native revolutionized music at the age of 18 and has finally returned to bring the revolution back. Her 1998 Breath From Another inspired people across the globe with her universal sound. Whether it was Esthero’s harmonious voice or her versatility in production, she set a standard for musical fusion.
Taking seven years to live, die, and resurrect, 26-year-old Esthero has successfully birthed a musical timeline that describes her journey from teenager to woman. Wikked Lil’ Grrrls brings Esthero’s love of music and pure poetry to the surface, creating a sound absent of any genre or classification. Bringing depth, edge, love, riot and rebirth, Wikked Lil Grrrls is a self-contained masterpiece that proves to be a phenomenal homecoming for the young mastermind.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives politicked with the Pink Pirate of Hip-Hop and beyond about her inspirations, her new album, and the future of fusion.
AHHA: Would you classify Wikked Lil’ Grrrls in the same section of the record store as Breath From Another? Why or why Not?
Esthero: No. Breath From Another for some reason was put into the ‘Electronica’ section, which is odd ’cause there’s so much live instrumentation. sighs I’m so misunderstood. That section is usually in the basement of stores. I think Wikked is much more of a ‘Pop’ record, for lack of a better word, in the sense that it covers a lot of moods, styles and genres. In a perfect world there would be a section in stores dedicated to music that is heavily urban-influenced but not necessarily Rap or Hip-Hop. I would say put it in ‘Jazz’ if I didn’t think the Jazz police would come after me.
AHHA: Why did you choose to make this album more personal?
Esthero: I’m a person. I don’t know that this record was intentionally more personal, but just less shy. I was a girl. Now I’m a woman. Lordy, I’m starting to sound like Britney Spears.
AHHA: Explain the concept behind Wikked Lil’ Grrrls – the song and the album.
Esthero: Wikked Lil Grrrls [the song] is basically a love letter to, and an anthem for the strong beautiful badass goddesses in my life that have proven to be a wonderful influence. And you know that women like that are usually accused by onlookers of ‘being up to no good. I imagined that we were all referred to at some point in our childhoods as ‘wicked’ or ‘naughty’ little girls. Especially girls, who were comfortable with their bodies, spoke their minds and celebrated their womanhood. The song is a tongue in cheek celebration of the moniker. And most importantly, it promotes a sense of comradery between women. Wild women. The album- well that just happened. No plan. I Just followed my heart til it was done and I had told all the stories as best as I could.
AHHA: What was it like working with Andre 3000 on Junglebook?
Esthero: Hmmm. Lets see. Working with Andre is like a perfect humid breezy summer evening with the smell of saltwater lingering in the air… or like finding the perfect pair of shoes to match your favorite outfit on sale… or when you get into a warm and fluffy terry cloth bathrobe after a bath…or how it feels when you get into bed and your sheets are freshly clean and you just shaved your legs–comfortable and sexy.
AHHA: Which creators in the movement in particular are you calling out to in We R In Need of a Musical ReVoLuTIoN?
Esthero: All of them. Anyone can join a love movement.
AHHA: Discuss the creative differences between Esthero the producer and Esthero the singer/songwriter.
Esthero: There are none. Esthero the producer thinks Esthero the singer/songwriter is the cats pajamas…. although Esthero the producer has a hard time getting Esthero the singer to finish lyrics within a reasonable period of time…like say seven frickin’ years.
AHHA: What are the current CD’s in rotation on your stereo?
Esthero: John Legend, Feist, Wayne Newton, Tupac, Pink Floyds Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and various cartoon theme songs from the 80’s like Thundercats, Transformers, Jem and the Holograms, and Fraggle Rock.
AHHA: How has the Hip-Hop community benefited your career?
Esthero: By being so supportive… and inspiring and frustrating me at the same time. By being passionate, and by opening their arms to me and understanding my voice.
AHHA: When did you come to love Hip-Hop?
Esthero: I’ve always loved good music. Period.
AHHA: Your favorite quote you’ve ever said or sang?
Esthero: I would have to say… Music was the lamb that made a lion out of me – but I cant take full credit for that…. The universe gave me that one. I’m not that bright. And recently on stage in a daze I said, As we go marching into love we are bound to get scars. That one’s okay.
AHHA: What is the biggest misconception about Esthero?
Esthero: I dont know. What would you say?
AHHA: Hmmmm. Probably that youre Black [laughs]
AHHA: So what are your top five ass shakin songs?
Esthero: Crooked Booty by Dungeon Family, California Love by Tupac and Dr. Dre, Elephant Message by Elephant Man, The Light by Sean Paul and Bouncin’ Back by Mystikal. [Bouncin Back] will turn any respectable young lady into a stripper on the dance floor. I swear I grow a 40-foot booty when I hear these tunes at full volume. I will hurt somebody. I’ll be the baddest bitch in the club…the club in my brain that is… [laughs] Im sure everybody else is like, That poor white girl done lost her damn mind! Oh snap is she having a seizure? Somebody help her!
AHHA: Who right now in Hip-Hop or beyond do you feel the industry can, and can’t, do without?
Esthero: I think Outkast has been so integral to Hip-Hop and to music in general because they continue to push boundaries and challenge people’s ideas of what Hip-Hop and Black music should sound like or look like. There is also such a high level of artistry, poetry and musicianship that I feel they really set the bar for. As for what the industry could do without, I would have to say I wouldn’t be sad if all the misogyny and ‘cock worship’ would just go away. And I am referring to all forms of music and the music business- not just Hip-Hop.
AHHA: Having already worked with a number of amazing emcees [Black Eyed Peas, Last Emperor, Poetic, Mos Def] are there any other Hip-Hop or R&B artists you’d like to work with?
Esthero: I would love to work with Big Boi. I would love to work with Eminem. I would love to work with Pharoahe Monch, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Angie Stone, Bilal, D’Angelo. Devin the Dude! How could I forget him? I would love to do something with Devin the Dude! Devin if you read this, I have a brilliant idea for a track! And also Kardinal Offishall.
AHHA: When and where will you be touring?
Esthero: If all goes as planned, I will be doing a bunch of record release parties in major cities immediately following the release of my album. I’m hoping to hit Atlanta, Detroit, New York, DC, Toronto, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal, Los Angeles, and Chicago. After that I’ll try to jump on a tour with someone else for the summer. I love to play live and it truly is a unique experience at our shows.
AHHA: Why do they call you the Pink Pirate?
Esthero: If I told you, Id be obligated to kill you. Just playin’. Im a pirate…and I like pink. Now that I look at it though, it kinda sounds a little perverted. Ha!
AHHA: Which city has more soul: Toronto or New York? Weigh your words, woman!
Esthero: Thats like asking, Who do you love more, your mom or your dad? They both have souls, just different souls. I like New York a lot, but I love my home. I would not have been able to make the record I did if I weren’t from Toronto. You have better pizza- I’ll give you that, but Toronto has better jerk chicken. If you ever roll through get some plantains at Crystals.
AHHA: Where can people find out more about your album and upcoming shows?
Esthero: They can visit my website at www.esthero.net
AHHA: If you weren’t here, where would you be?
Esthero: St. Kitts sunshine, Mohito, good book.