The New Orleans' rapper named her new EP for her hometown, but there's more to its story than that.
Much of the writing on Delish da Goddess’ Violet buries the lede. A rapper from Violet might seem unusual, but hip-hop is today’s rock. It has become our cultural lingua franca and is everywhere, so of course she could come from there, even if there’s no place to play. In Raphael Helfand’s short profile, he skirts too quickly by a great detail when Delish remembers her first gig. The story was about the way she held the crowd even though she unplugged the mic during the first song, but she also says, “I came out wearing a choir robe and a baby mask.”
That last image is intriguing because Delish’s interest in self-definition is far more central to her project than her rural roots. Growing up in Violet must have affected her art, but its impact isn’t obvious, and nothing in her music is less sophisticated than the tracks made by emcees from New Orleans’ wards. Her tattoos, on the other hand, reflect and fuel her sense of self, and she has chosen a look that that demands her audience to accept her on her terms. Her look is on a spectrum with the Soundcloud underground rappers, though with fewer obviously emo markers. It says accept me or don’t, and Violet offers a similar challenge.
Delish’s subject matter is her life, so the songs come with an ambient existential struggle that sounds at times like the hip-hop default setting. She adds being a lesbian to every other reason an emcee feels attacked, but she doesn’t double down on the defensiveness. Instead, she treats the constant conflict as a day to day thing and gives it the same weight and intensity she gives to her other relationships. Her smile on the cover says she’s not trying to sell any soldier imagery and invites listeners to put all the tough talk in context. Yes, she’s protecting her name and trying to give order to her life, but she hasn’t lost perspective in the process.
None of this is new, so in that sense, I get Violet as a story hook. Namechecking her hometown and drawing attention to her roots is different, even if it’s difference that doesn’t illuminate. Her Bandcamp page presents her many single and EP releases, and the whole body of work could be heard as an album, mixtape or playlist with few coherence issues,Violet included. Delish is in the business of giving us regular installments of who she is, making only incremental additions to our understanding of her. At this point, that makes sense as business and art. Today, there’s no percentage in moving out of the public eye, and since she’s finding her audience, she doesn’t need to cycle through a career’s worth of changes before enough people know her well enough to care.
Musically, Violet is a continuation as well. I’m a sucker for synth-heavy trap with 808-based beats, and the way the combination of harsh, industrial snare sounds and tubular bell notes emphasize the humanity of the person who raps over them. Despite having “goddess” in her stage name, projecting her humanity is Delish’s strength.