BU students aren’t an easy sell, so when Rapper Steph achieved a standing ovation at BU Central after her first open mic performance, Base Trip Records President Conor Loughman (COM ’10) knew he’d struck musical gold in a lyrically charged five-foot-nothing rapper-girl from the North Shore.
‘She played two songs and I was absolutely blown away,’ Loughman says of the performance. ‘I think I asked her that night if she would be interested in joining Base Trip.’
Since her connection with Loughman, Stephanie Domingo has made a name for herself in the male-dominated Boston hip-hop scene without losing the sense of self that sets her apart as a musician and a lyricicist.
‘My music is what I see in my head,’ said Domingo. ‘Every line I write is exactly how I see the world. It’s the way my crazy mind works. I used to think being hyper-aware of everything around me was a bad thing, but it’s turned out well with my music.’
It’s hard to imagine such a small girl with an infectous smile and brown-sugar lips would choose hip-hop as an alleyway for activism, but Domingo insists her choice to persue the notoriously gangster saturated genre was a natural progression.
‘I started out writing poetry in high school,’ said Domingo. ‘I wrote in couplets and then began to sound them out to beats. I used to steal my brother’s MC Hammer tapes when we were kids.’
Beyond circulating demos of her tracks on mix-tapes to close high school friends, Domingo didn’t see her rapping as a talent at all. For her it was a form of expression about her personal life and political beliefs (think Common meets Jill Scott and Lauryn Hill).
‘I want people to respond. I want people to feel,’ Domingo said. ‘I’m not just rapping to my audience, we’re having a conversation.’
When she arrived at BU in 2006, Domingo focused on her major, international relations. She admits she didn’t touch her music until the end of her sophomore year when she said was able to add more knowledge and substance to her words, utilizing similies and metaphors that were missing from her earlier attempts.
‘All the elements of her personality come out in the music and anyone within earshot can tell that she means it,’ Loughman said of Domingo’s lyrical style. ‘Her stage presence is unbelievable. I don’t know many other people who could dance while ranting about the corruption of the Bush administration.’
Domingo’s strong political voice comes not only from her major, but also from her family. Domingo’s mother, Beryl, is a civil servant and her father, Vernon, fought against apartheid in his home country of South Africa. Although Domingo has taken a more artistic route in expressing her worldviews, she said her parents’ support has been monumental in shaping success as a hip-hop artist.
Combining a strong personality, willful convictions and intense drive Domingo has quickly become a local success. Yet performing at the BU/BC men’s hockey game, meeting with well-known producers around the city and performing at Cambridge’s hip-hop Mecca, The Middle East hasn’t made her forget her top priorities: family, school and friends.
‘Right now I want to get my degree,’ said Domingo , a CAS junior. ‘Music will always be there.’
Until graduation, Domingo said she’ll keep working with friends like Loughman expressing herself through the music she loves.
‘I just want to be a positive voice through all the negitivity in the world,’ Domingo said. ‘I want people to know they’re not alone.’
Catch Rapper Steph at Harper’s Ferry this Saturday at the Madness 2012 Bday Bash, 18+, doors at 8 p.m.