Siya says her art is about intimacy via hip hop. It’s about lyrical connection with the scores of fans who have come to know her struggles through a 20-year career in music that’s brought her from Bedford-Stuyvesant to LA. She recently debuted her latest single “Wrist,” off her 15-track album Mad Energy that dropped in August. The simple jazz-piano riff that opens the track acts as lighthearted foreshadowing for the emotional depth that permeates the song. Infused over the keys are autobiographical lyrics that hone in on the fact that, although the world seems increasingly dark, you can always find a light when you look for it. Oh, and inspirational Oprah interludes? “Wrist” has them, too.
Siya’s agenda was filled with more than just music in 2018, though. In fact, you can find two of her collaborations on shelves at dispensaries throughout California. She has her name on chocolate milk-flavored blunt wraps by Shine, a luxe rolling papers brand. She also has a partnership with Pearl Pharma, a long-time cultivation group, to promote Astir, an OG hybrid strain. “It’s a great way to calm those nerves,” she says.
Fans know that’s important to her.
Three seasons on Sisterhood of Hip Hop certainly seem to have sharpened the Brooklyn-born emcee’s talent for sharing who she is. In a recent interview with High Times, the conversation moved fluidly about her own struggles with anxiety attacks, concern over hip hop industry-wide issues of chemical dependence, and CBD topicals.
High Times: “Wrist,” the video we premiered, is a meditation of your own experience with anxiety and depression. Was it difficult to work on?
Siya: Being transparent is very important for me as an artist. I think the more music I make that’s relatable, the more people will gravitate toward me. Everybody wants something that they can turn to for comfort. Sometimes my music is that for people.
High Times: What would you like to add to the current discussion about self-care and mental health?
Siya: There are way too many young, talented artists that are dying from drug-related issues that stem from mental health. More people need to speak up and ask if they’re OK. People with mental health [issues] constantly feel alone and that’s the worst part about it, you know?
High Times: Or they’re joked about. For example, the constant discussion of Kanye West.
Siya: Right, which is sad. That man needs help.
High Times: Speaking of supporting artists, what do you think the hip hop industry—or the music industry in general—can do to better support women and queer artists?
Siya: I think they need to create more platforms specifically for female emcees, specifically for gays. It’s a male-dominated industry still—it’s always been. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Instead of trying to pit us against each other, create more space and avenues that are for us and by us.
High Times: Do you personally use marijuana?
Siya: I personally use marijuana, occasionally. But I do use CBD every single day.
High Times: What’s your preferred way of taking CBD?
Siya: I love CBD flowers, I love to smoke them. I love the pens, topicals. CBD for me is definitely a soothing, calming thing—which for me, is everything.
High Times: Can you talk a little bit about how your relationship with marijuana has changed over time? Has legalization changed the role that it plays in your life?
Siya: I would say yeah, for sure. I’m from the projects. I’m from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Growing up, I had my days in the streets. I used to sell drugs and marijuana was one of them. So marijuana has always been in my life someway, somehow. I’m not proud of the things I used to do, but it’s crazy how the tables turn. Now it’s legal and it’s being recognized as a health benefit that a lot of people need. That’s a great thing. It should have been done [a long time ago], you know?