By Jordan Yeager
Benita Prado’s energy is infectious – when she talks, you want to listen. The 19-year-old hip hop artist has quickly carved a place for herself in Vancouver’s music scene, challenging existing structures and revolutionizing the game. Listening to her, it’s clear Prado knows what she wants and how she’s going to get there; she’s been crafting, refining, and redefining her sound since her mom gifted her a guitar at age 13.
“My mom gave me the guitar and she was like, ‘Here, I want you to learn some Rolling Stones on this,’” laughs Prado. “I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t fuck with that.’ So I just started writing my own stuff, just stupid little teenage heartbreak stuff. And from there I started going onto SoundCloud and Twitter and branching myself out that way.”
Before making a name for herself in the public sphere, Prado was a ghostwriter for big-name rappers when she was just 15. She’s used the following four years wisely, learning the game from the inside out – there’s no better way to overthrow the system than from within it.
“I came out the womb looking like I was 12, so I deadass just finessed people,” she says, laughing after a comparison to Maeby Bluth from Arrested Development’s stint in the film industry. “I was 15, like, ‘Yeah, I’m 19, and I know how to do this.’ I still do it, but it makes it harder to focus on my own career. I was always the behind-the-scenes type person and now I’m in the fuckin’ foreground.”
If you have the dedication, the vision, and the talent, you will succeed, and Prado’s mission is to be the living proof. When asked about the purpose of her art and what she hopes to achieve, she responds with a laugh: “Maybe like… world domination?”
“I hope people see themselves [in my music],” she says. “[In my songs], I let myself be the worst version of myself for, like, two minutes. Everyone needs an outlet for that shit. So I just want them to take away the vulnerability, and accepting that not everybody has to be a positive person – you just have to be a person. Have that balance. Sometimes I feel like a dark ass bitch. But it’s like, just live your life. You don’t have to be positive all the time. I was an emo ass kid. I was deadass emo as fuck from grades five to 10. Now I’m getting back into it; I have all the My Chemical Romance albums.”
Ultimately, Prado makes music for the people who have been in her shoes, living in their feelings without public figures to look up to.
“Have you ever seen the Vine of that little emo black kid who does screamo in front of mirrors?” asks Prado. “He’s literally the best Viner. People always make fun of him. I make music for those people, and I want those people to have an outlet, and women of colour to have an outlet. All the people that don’t feel like they fit into a SZA or a Beyoncé – that super feminine, hyper-beauty type thing. It’s all centred around men, and I don’t have time for that. Centre around yourself! Be proud of your ugliness.”
“I want to be the person people look up to for that kind of shit,” she continues. “But at the same time, I’m human, I make mistakes. So I try to keep it real while creating a movement for black little weirdo kids like me. Cause there’s all these white little weirdo heroes and I’m like, where’s the one for the black kids? Being black in Vancouver, and being Aboriginal, I have all these odds against me, but you’ve got to just show up like, yeah, I’m here, I’m this bitch right here. And it’s pretty much just constantly being yourself and really just going for it. Be a bad bitch.”
Prado’s new mixtape Yung Depression is due out April 2018.