Brandie Blaze grew up listening to all the music. “There was a lot of 70s, 80s, and 90s R&B because of my mother,” she says. “I also loved pop music - Britney (Spears), Christina (Aguilera), Backstreet Boys, New Kids (on the Block) and *NSYNC.”

Her tastes spread when a friend introduced her to Nirvana, Paramore, Blink-182, System of a Down, and Rage Against the Machine. “I was also a huge hip hop head and listened to Biggie (The Notorious B.I.G.), Tupac (Shakur), Lil' Kim, Missy Elliot, DMX, The Diplomats, and 50 Cent.”

Blaze’s childhood chock full of musical encounters has become the foundation for her sound described as “a mixture of trap and 90s hip hop.” But it’s the persistence of artists like Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, and other trailblazing women in hip hop destined to rewrite the female experience, that helped define her voice.

“The reason I even rap is because of Lil' Kim and Dutch Rebelle,” she tells me. “Lil' Kim has always been my idol, with her talent and how she controlled and owned her sexuality. Dutch was the first female rapper I ever saw in Boston and I fell in love with her music and how fly she is.”

I caught up with her to learn about how she got started and where she continues to find inspiration amid her rising career. Excerpts below.

Bands You Should Know — Brandie Blaze
Dreana LeMaitre

Blaze began dance classes at age three and has been on stage ever since.
I danced up to and through high school, I did acting classes and I did some talent shows and gigs as a singer in junior high school. Unfortunately, singing wasn't my strong suit. I transitioned from writing poetry to rapping in high school, and I've been pursuing music seriously for the past six years.

She started by writing verses for rap songs she loved.
It just felt good and natural, so I kept going. The first song I ever recorded was called "Life Sentence" and it's still up on my Soundcloud. I had a lot on my chest and it felt so good to be able to express myself artistically. I was still figuring out my sound and my flow, so it doesn't sound great, but I'm still proud of it.

Her first performance as a rapper was at Max Blues in Brockton...
I got my start in the South and North Shores. Brockton, Quincy, Revere, Lynn, Salem, and Lowell showed me so much love. It took several years for me to break into Boston. So those areas will always have a special place in my heart, although Boston is what I represent.

...but it was a show in Boston that reinforced her choice to pursue music.
Performing at Don't Ask Don't Tell on Pride Weekend 2018 in front of a sold out crowd at The Sinclair. That was only my second show with my incredible DJ, DJ Why Sham (nominated for the 2019 Boston Music Awards DJ of the Year.) I knew if I wanted to elevate my live stage show, I needed a DJ who had personality and fit with what I wanted to accomplish. DJ Why Sham is that times 100.

The reaction we got was so intense, and she complimented me so perfectly, that I knew big things were going to happen if we stuck together. That was also my biggest show to date and just solidified in my mind that this was what I wanted to be doing with my life.

When it comes to pre-performance rituals, Blaze likes peace and solitude...
I need that time to myself so I can focus and get in the right frame of mind to perform. I get really anxious before performances, so it's important that I take at least five minutes to prepare myself mentally.

...and she finds ongoing inspiration in her life and fellow Boston musicians.
Like Oompa and Red Shaydez. They keep me on my toes and drive me to keep working on my craft and be better.

All of my music comes from true experiences, whether that's conversations I've had, things that have happened in my life, or what I've seen my friends go through.

Career options outside of music?
I work with youth outside of doing music now, so I think I would still be doing that. Maybe I would be able to start my own non-profit with that extra time on my hands.

Where Boston can see you perform next?
December 6 at The Rockwell in Somerville is my album release party! I am releasing my second LP, Late Bloomer.

The Boston Music Awards recently selected Brandie Blaze to be a part of the 617Sessions, a program that recognizes Boston-based artists who are making great contributions to the local scene and rewards them with a day of studio recording. Listen to her song below.