In celebration of Black History Month, KEXP’s Alina Santillan interviewed numerous local and national African American artists about what Black History Month and Black Future means to them. One of these individuals was KEXP's Street Sound host, rapper, producer, and DJ Stasia Irons aka Stas THEE Boss. Since her days in Seattle THEE Satisfaction, Stas has been an integral figure in local hip-hop and has worked with the Black Constellations collective (which includes Shabazz Palaces, JusMoni, OC Notes, and more) to build community and push artistic boundaries. Below, Stas discussess some of the artists who've inspired her, the importance of supporting black women artists, and using music to tell stories.
KEXP: We're celebrating Black History Month. Which is something that we should do all year round and not just in the month. But can you talk to me a little bit about maybe what black history or black future means to you and your life?
Stas THEE Boss: Absolutely. I think for black history, I love it. It's good. We get to celebrate the often forgotten histories and stories of black Americans, often stolen histories of black Americans. A good time to reflect as well as projecting what's going to happen in the future. Honoring the young ones and you know putting them on the game. I love it.
Can you tell me about an artist that's been really influential to you as a person or as an artist yourself?
Yeah off the top just Chaka Khan has been my favorite artist. Just the way that she uses her voice as an instrument and her tone and timbres is really strong and I value that and definitely have used her influence in my rap and the way that I use my voice.
Is there's somebody else maybe that you've played with or that you've had a musical connection with that has also like really impacted the way that you create music?
Yeah. My favorite artist, rapper [is] Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets. I've played with him and recorded with him and he's just someone that has so much knowledge and he's very creative and is very important to hip hop and black history and black futurism.
Why does music matter to you?
It's the way of telling stories. It's a way of connecting across boundaries, barriers that people put up for themselves. There's just a feeling that you get that's undeniable through music and you know it touches people in many ways.
Can you talk about a show or an experience that you had that changed your life?
Yeah, the first time I performed with Erykah Badu. I was in THEE Satisfaction. We flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah to do this outdoor concert and it was us opening for Badu. It was like 5,000 people there. We never met her, only talked to her online. And we're performing doing our thing, I looked to the side of the stage and Badu's just chillin on the side just like waving her hands up and down. I like lost it right there. Forgot lyrics and tried to keep it going and kept my composure. But just seeing her vibe out and then getting to see her perform after and just getting so inspired and just soaking up all those vibes and afterwards talking to her, introducing her to my mom – who my mom introduced me to her music. So it was like full circle. That was the most special musical, black American, black history – all of that wrapped into one experience. The best.
Is there anything something you really want to talk about?
I just want to honor all the black women artists that have come and gone that are still here and are not seen and spoken about. Missy Elliott in particular. She's kind of just like a renaissance person. She's my favorite. She's being honored constantly, but I feel like we should always put her in the forefront as far as a mover and shaker in hip hop and women making music.
For more and a litany of amazing interviews featuring the incredible African-American musical artists that have shaped our lives, click here for all our Black History Month coverage.
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Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the …