Hip hop in the 239
Artists try to break out in SW ...
SPECIAL REPORT: HIP HOP IN THE 239
- Video: Hip hop in the 239
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - From the Hood
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - A Tale of Cartelle and Corleone
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - Making it Big
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - Enjoy the Ride
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - Freedom Hall
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - Gutta Slim and Tim Wes
- Photos: Hip Hop in the 239 - Being seen in the Scene
- Story: Local hip hop artists fueled by desire to make it
- Story: Collaboration overshadows rivalries in local hip hop scene
- Story: Local women breaking trend of male-dominate hip hop culture
- Story: Debate rages over hip hop's correlation with crime
With nearly 5,000 views on YouTube, rapper Kim Cartelle's lesbian-themed music video is breaking down boundaries in a male-dominated industry. In her "Ballin' Remix" video, the power character is a woman.
A lingerie-wearing harem prances around a tough-looking Kim Cartelle, a former model herself.
"It's hard being female only because of the stigma that we're supposed to have a certain image," Kim Cartelle, an Estero High graduate who recently moved to Atlanta to pursue her music career, said. "You don't have to be physically sexy all the time to get your point across."
Wearing an oversized T-shirt, baggy camouflage pants and a cap over her long, freshly blown-out black hair, Dawn Corleone is another of the few female rappers from the area. But the 22-year-old isn't using sex or her gender to sell music.
"I don't want people to see me as a female rapper. I don't want people to look at me and say, 'She's good for a girl,' " Dawn Corleone said. "I want them to see me as a rapper and not the female aspect."
On a grand scale, only a handful of female rap artists have made it big. Historically, hip hop music is about the plight endured by young, black, urban males — not women. With the likes of Lil' Kim and Nicki Minaj breaking the trend, the confidence in and recognition for women to compete in the industry is growing. Now, the mission is to gain respect.
Kim Cartelle is using controversial themes and Dawn Corleone is tackling songs by men, such as Drake's "The Motto" and making them her own.
Kim Cartelle, 24, born Kimberly Daniels, began rapping three years ago with a sexier look than her tomboy image today.
After a year with Ombrage Models in Miami, Kim Cartelle chose to take her knack for writing poetry and chase a music career. But getting started has been rough as record executives only viewed her as a sex object and not as lyrically astute, she said. So she started Bella Boss Entertainment in 2011.
"I felt like I didn't have a voice, just an image. They don't take women seriously," she said. "They feel like we don't have as much to talk about, and are not as lyrical as male artists. We're just the video model image. So, I'm changing mine up."
Though pursuing a music career is a dream worth fighting for, Kim Cartelle has a few fallback plans to provide for her 7-year-old daughter.
After graduating from high school, Kim Cartelle went to Florida Memorial University in Miami, but then transferred to Hodges University, to study allied health studies. A month ago, she moved to Atlanta to pursue both a music and cooking career.
Dawn Corleone wants to be more than being a role model for other aspiring rap artists. Born Susie Sheard, she wants to support her family.
"I don't really want a big thing to come out of it," she said. "I'm blessed with this talent, and I may as well use it to help me in the future, to make it to where my mom doesn't have to work all her life and my nephew can have anything he wants."
Taking a hiatus from studying culinary arts at Lorenzo Walker Institute, the Golden Gate High School graduate is juggling caring for her nephew, a part-time job at P.F. Chang's and making music.
With two local rap battle wins under her belt and $400 in prize money, Dawn Corleone has the confidence she needs to make it — she beat all guys.
"I'm not sure how to break through — still trying to figure it out," she said. "But I think if I stick to my guns, stay true to myself and who I am and demand the respect I need, I'll be able to do just fine."