In the 2003 comedy Head of State, Chris Rock hits the campaign trail as the most unlikely presidential candidate, Alderman Mays Gilliam. At first, Gilliam rose steadily in the polls by following the direction of campaign advisors, political standards and his own internal compass. However, things took a turn when he delivered the hilarious “That Ain’t Right” speech in Chicago, Illinois. Speaking from his heart, Gilliam pushed boundaries and connected directly with potential voters. In true Hollywood fashion, Gilliam’s ability to be himself and charm others took him all the way to the White House. In many ways, Knoxville’s own Daisha McBride, otherwise known as The Rap Girl, is in her “That Ain’t Right” phase.
When Daisha McBride delivered her debut LP, Wild, she wasn’t hurting for attention or success. In the weeks and months that would follow, she would go viral on social media and earn a few television placements to go along with her live shows around Nashville. In her music, she was still giving listeners an inside look at her life, but there was something missing. There was still a level of vulnerability that she still needed to reach in order to unlock the next stage of her artistry. Fortunately, she took that next step with her latest LP, Let Me Get This Off My Chest. Released in November 2021, the 33-minute effort allowed her to sing more than ever before, deliver her first unclean records and dive into her love life in a way that she hadn’t previously. Now, her music is on Megan Good’s Harlem and Russ co-signed her lyrical ability. Above all else, Daisha McBride and those close to her are all in on this project. The next giant step on this path will be the Knoxville native’s first headlining show on Broadway Street in Music City. In anticipation of this monumental feat, she chopped it up with me about her latest project, getting a co-sign from Russ and the second season of Power Book II: Ghost.
Ryan Shepard: When I was getting ready for this interview, I wanted to compare your first LP to your second LP. So, I went downtown and just walked around the area while listening to your two albums, Wild and Let Me Get This Off My Chest. When I ran through the first project, Wild, one track that caught my attention was “Grow Up.” As the title suggests, the song expresses the ups and downs of growing up, paying bills and figuring things out. When you find yourself in the position that you’re in now and reflect on where you were back when you wrote that song, what advice would you give yourself?
Daisha McBride: When I wrote that song, I was in this weird early 20s phase of trying to figure things out. “Adulting” is hard. It was a lot [to take in at first]. I was paying my own bills and realizing how hard being a young adult can be. Now, I’m doing everything that I set out to do. I think I’ve kind of got it figured out. If I could give my [younger] self advice, I would tell a younger Daisha to trust her gut, be herself, stay authentic and trust that everything will work out. I feel like those are all very generic things [to say], but those are things that immediately [come to mind] when I think of the new album [in comparison to] where I was back in 2019 [when Wild was released].
I definitely hear that. Sometimes the simplest pieces of advice are the messages that hit home the hardest. Another track from Wild that caught my attention was the “Intro.” It was actually the first verse of the album. You said, “I stay posting on the internet but that ain’t really me.” I almost replayed the entire song when I heard that because it was surprising to hear you say that. When I was getting ready to speak with you, I went through your Twitter feed, Instagram account, etc. and it was clear that you know how to use social media to your advantage. You’re also very active on social media. What is your relationship with social media like? From your perspective, is it a negative one or a positive one?
You know…I feel like I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I will always say that social media has changed my life. It sounds really dramatic to say that social media changed my life, but it really did. When I first started doing music, my first big push came when I went viral on social media. That showed me firsthand how powerful these platforms can be if you use them to your advantage. You know you can really reach an audience that goes way beyond your city or wherever your from [when you use social media to your advantage]. You know? The internet is free to everybody.
I think having that mindset is paying off. Recently, you used social media in your favor and caught the attention of Russ. You tried out the “Handsomer” challenge on TikTok and he reposted your verse. What was that experience like and what was your reaction when he reposted your verse?
Yeah, I saw I was actually one of the first people to put a verse on his challenge. I think he posted the video and I think I posted my verse an hour later, so I got on the challenge early. Immediately [after I posted my video], he liked the video and commented on my video. He was like, “Oh, this is hard.” Then, I didn’t really hear anything else from him. A few days later, I saw he had been reposting different people’s verses, but he never reposted mine. So, I was like, “Dang! Well, it’s cool. At least, he saw it.” Then, I was at a friend’s house the other night when one of my homeboys called me. He was like, “Bro, you’re on Russ’ Instagram.” I was like, “What?” So, I immediately picked up my phone and got on there. I went to his page and there it was. That was a crazy experience because I respect Russ a lot. He’s one of the artists that I’ve grown fond of. So, that was a cool little cosign.
Beyond social media, one way that your music has spread is through television and film. That’s the way I found your music originally. There was a show on Netflix called Trinkets that I really didn’t expect to like as much as I did and you have a song called “Dolla$” that was featured on the show. Your music has also been featured on Love & Hip-Hop, Harlem, Inventing Anna and a few other shows. Is there a show that you’ve wanted your music to be featured on, but haven’t been able to get on just yet?
I was really sad because I really wanted an Insecure placement, but you know that Insecure is over so that was one that I never quite got. But I watch Power. I’m a Power fan, so I definitely think a Power placement would be cool. I’m trying to think of different shows and things that I watch. I don’t know if I can name a specific show [other than Power], but I want a movie placement. I want to be able to go into a theater and hear my music. I think I have some coming up that are Netflix films, which are cool, but I definitely want an in theater movie placement. I think that’s a goal for myself this year.
Definitely. I can only imagine what it would be like to walk into a theater and hear a song that you made on the surround sound speakers in the theater. I also wanted to touch on something you mentioned a moment ago. You said that you were a big fan of Power. Have you finished season two of Power Book II: Ghost? If so, how did you feel about the finale?
With Tariq’s Power? Yeah, I actually loved it. I like how they connected the OG Power to the new stuff and I like how it’s all coming together. I was interested to see if this was a [true] spin-off or a spin-off where they don’t connect it back at all. I like how they’re connecting the old Power and the new Power and how some of the character dynamics are similar to the original show. Tariq has his two women like Ghost had his two women [in the original show]. So yeah, I like where they’re going with it.
I’m sorry that was like a quick little detour, but I do want to go back to the music. In November, you put out a preview video for your latest LP, Let Me Get This Off My Chest. While you were talking about the album, you mentioned that it had a lot of firsts. You said that you would be singing more on this album, openly and honestly discuss your sexuality and release your first unclean songs. What was it about this particular album that allowed you to push those boundaries that you may not have on your previous album?
I think I have experienced a lot of personal growth over the past two years. As I’ve grown more comfortable in loving myself and discovering who I am, I think I’ve become more comfortable showing that in my music. I’ve always liked my music, but I always felt like I wasn’t being 100% authentic. I feel like [complete authenticity] is what I like about the artists that I look up to. If you listen to a Drake song, you can read between the lines and kind of hear what he’s going through. I just like when people are authentic. I feel like that was kind of missing from the artistry. So, with this album, I was like, “We just gone rip the band aid off and just be and sell it all and not try to censor anything.” That’s why I think I love this album so much; it’s so personal. It’s definitely the most personal album I’ve done because every song has a story behind it.
You mentioned that every song has a story behind it. As you put more of yourself out there in your music, has anyone ever come up to you and assumed or suggested that they believe a song was about them?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. When the first single, “Nerve,” came out, I had a couple of girls text me and ask if the song was about them. It was about one person in particular, but it honestly applied to a couple of different situations. So, I just kind of hit them all back and I was like, “Look, I ain’t gonna say it’s about you, but if the shoe fits then it is what it is.”
It was kind of cool because I’ve always played it kind of safe when it came to that part of that. I didn’t want to offend anybody or hurt anybody. This time around, I was like, “Nah, forget that. I’m going to say what I want to say.” And you know? It is what it is. To answer your question, I definitely had some of those moments for sure.
It’s really interesting and fun to hear you talk about this project like this. Oftentimes, people will say that their first album is the easiest to make because they have their entire life to make it. Then, the second one presents a number of challenges. However, it sounds like this album was a little easier to make because you shared more of yourself. Am I correct in saying that?
Yeah..I don’t know. I feel like I was a whole different person in 2019. I feel like the personal growth is…there’s so much that happened between the first album and the second album, so it was pretty easy for me to do the second album.
I don’t know. People make albums in all different ways and people approach albums in all different ways. Some people make albums when they’ve got a whole bunch of hands in it and people are telling them what kind of stuff they should make.
For me, creatively, this album came pretty easy. This was the first album that I felt like I could really be myself on. I hope the next one comes just as easy.
This Saturday, you’re going to take Wild, Let Me Get This Off My Chest and all of your EPs and perform at Acme Feed & Seed on Broadway Street here in Nashville, Tennessee. For those who are unaware, Broadway is the busiest, main street in downtown Nashville. Not only do you get to perform on Broadway, but you get to do so with AB Eastwood and GAS! What does it mean to you to be able to headline your first show on Broadway?
It means everything to me. I’ve performed at a lot of places in Nashville. I’ve performed pretty much everywhere besides Bridgestone Arena, the Amphitheater and I think the new place, the Brooklyn Bowl. Other than that, I’ve pretty much performed at every venue. It’s definitely been a blessing, but I’m always on somebody else’s show. and I never had the confidence to put on my own show. When my manager, D’Lisha Davis, brought up the idea of headlining my own show, I was definitely a little hesitant about it, but the process has been dope. Everything that has happened has been because of my team and I. Everything is curated by me. From the lighting and the colors to the drink menu, we’ve put it together and I think it’s cool to have control like that. I think it’s also going to be cool to see everybody that comes out to support the show. I’ve done shows when there are like six artists on the bill, but you might not know who came to see which artist. This time, it’s me. This is my show and I know that everybody who’s there came to support me. That’s going to be a beautiful thing to see because affirmations are my love language. Having people in the room who genuinely love me and support me come out to see my show…it’s going to be dope.
I think it’s dope that I can have a night like that with a friend like AB Eastwood. He’s been doing his thing. I’ve known AB for a few years, so it was cool to be able to bring him in and let him shine as well. I feel like it’s going to be a really special night where I can just celebrate the progress that we’ve made over the last few years with the people who have made it possible. It’s going to be special.
Note: This interview was lightly edited for brevity and grammatical clarity.
Daisha McBride will headline “ELEMENT” at Acme Feed & Seed, located at 101 Broadway Street in Nashville, on Saturday, February 19th. The show will begin at 8 p.m. CST. Tickets are currently available at Eventbrite.com. Please visit the event’s information page for more information regarding COVID-19 protocols and additional details.