By Ariel Chrysann
Special to AFRO
We all come in different shades and tones, and we all go to bed the same way, with our hair wrapped up. Hip-Hop artist S.O. captures the simple everyday beauty of being a Black woman.
AFRO: What challenges do you face as a Christian Hip-Hop Artist?
S.O.: One of the main things is that people have assumptions about you. You’re making that assumption based on what? It is based on music that you haven’t even heard. You haven’t seen the visuals. You haven’t spoken to me as a person. I think that it’s now on me to kind of reach, recreate and reshape a narrative for those people who have that presumption.
I feel like music now in 2020 is kind of at a level playing field in the sense that if you saw “Headwrap Diaries” for example, you wouldn’t automatically say oh that’s a Christian music video. Your mind wouldn’t go to that, you would say that’s good art. Once you listen to the music and hear what I’m about you will automatically know that I’m a Christian. I love God, I love Jesus. But I don’t have to force their names into it. It comes out in the music. It’s not for me to shy away from my faith, it’s for me to put my faith on the forefront, and allow other people to hear it and discover for themselves. There’s a plethora of music out there. If you’re a Christian you should be able to create music you enjoy.
AFRO: What’s behind the name headwrap diaries?
S.O.: If people were exposed to true Christianity and read the Bible in its totality they would see that it’s filled with different stories of life. Books with a man praising and saying great things about his wife. Like the Song of Solomon, where he’s writing poetry to his wife. Songs like ‘Headwrap Diaries’ are an extension of that. It is hailing all women who love headwraps and want to wear it as a cultural norm and gentrification. Ultimately it is a love song from a man to a woman. That’s the initial context of it. I wrote Headwrap Diaries for my wife, but as an artist you can still throw the blanket and make it general to all women across the world.
Seeing my wife always wearing her head wraps, I’m always trying to find unique ways to write songs for her and about her that all women can relate to. So I was like ‘what is one of the Blackest things real women experience?’ Putting on headwraps. I’m Nigerian and she’s Ghanaian. In Nigerian culture other mothers, sisters and grandmothers would wear geles when they go to weddings or parties. You want to write about that and share that experience with beauty. It’s all wrapped in that, no pun intended.
AFRO: Why is celebrating Black women important to you?
S.O.: I ultimately want to put Black culture on the forefront and then at the same time celebrate Black women. As much as hip hop says they want to celebrate Black women they don’t do that.
Now I have a daughter, her name is Sade-Rose and she’s 18 months old. I want her to be able to see herself on screen. I want to be a part of that and create content that will empower her, make her feel like she can do whatever she puts her mind to. She matters, representation is just important. I think that now that I have a child, I’m making more of a conscious effort to create content that builds her up as a person. Some of the representations that we do see are not always positive. I was brought up by women, my sisters, my mom and my aunt; literally the village that raised me were predominantly women. I want to let them know “hey I see you, I love you, I care for you, you guys are queens.”
AFRO: How do headwraps fit into African culture, where do they originate?
S.O.: In Nigeria when the aunties, moms, sisters and grandmothers would go to big weddings, a traditional wedding they wear geles and traditional African garb. To me it’s like an adornment, it’s like a crown. It’s a part of what we do. I’m just trying to shed light
AFRO: Some people seem to think that wearing anything on your head is either “ghetto” or means your Muslim, how do you break that stereotype?
S.O.: I think the video does that. What you see in the video, all shades of Black, all generations young and old, they all wear headwraps on different occasions as well. You can wear a head wrap to a gala or when you’re waking up in the morning. Our headwraps can be elegant and worn in stylish ways. The more we try to affirm people who wear them, the more the culture will grow online with tutorials. Growing up in the U.K. and Nigeria it’s a cultural thing. I never once heard wearing a headwrap as a ghetto thing to do, never. I don’t have to be Muslim to wear one. Some women wear headwraps to protect their hair all the time, so that they don’t have to do their hair.