3 Artists and Activists to Watch in Louisville's Hip Hop Scene

Emma Glassman-Hughes

Feb 7, 2018

This is Few performers in the Louisville hip hop scene would call themselves “activists,” but it’s difficult to deny the spirit of advocacy that permeates. For Issue 07 of Here Magazine, we spoke with three organizers and artists who share a more explicit connection to social activism by identifying problems in their community and working to solve them through hip hop. text. To change this content, double-click on the element and click Change Content.

“My platform is girl power.” Save for a quick hello, this is the first thing DJ Bombshell says to me when she sits down at our table in Waterfront Park. Born Tra’Shelle Brown, the West Louisville native was raised by what she calls “the beautiful struggle,” where socioeconomic disparity helped shape a strong community of innovators and creators. “I am a product of the West End, but I’m also a person who is ambitious and is trying to create things. I want to debunk these stereotypes,” she says. In particular, Brown has an interest in uplifting young women artists and thinkers from West Louisville. Her iHeartMedia show on 93.1, “WCW” (Women Crush Wednesday), features her favorite female songstresses and rappers in a standard mix show format—inspired by the satellite radio she used to listen to as a kid. The other six days a week, when she’s not playing gigs around town, working her second job at Ford Motor Company, or taking care of her six-year-old son, Brown will perform for groups that align with her politics, such as GLOW (Girls League of the West), which “focuses on feminism and Afrocentrism,” and Girls Rock, a music summer camp where girls learn an instrument and perform at a showcase.

“When I DJ in front of young girls, I’m saying, ‘Hey, I work in a predominantly male industry, and you should feel like you can do whatever you want with yourself and your life,'” she says. “Usually when I talk to girls, they’re just in awe that I’m doing what I do.”

Though Brown has worked hard to get her DJ career to where it is now, she credits other artists with helping to get her name out—in particular, rapper Sasha Richmond (who performs as Sasha Renee). The two women are in agreement that the hip hop community could be working harder to include and uplift more female voices. “I make it my business to know all the female artists in the scene doing their thing, because with my platform, I wanna make sure it stays diverse. I have to be inclusive,” Richmond Asserts.

When I ask Brown what kind of a Louisville she wants her son to inherit, she harkens back to the idea of “the beautiful struggle.” “I don’t see things through rose-colored glasses,” she assures me. “But I don’t see it as all dark either. I see the bad and the good. My son is blessed to come from these great people and to have this great perspective. For him and for West Louisville, I’m going to use my platform to say things that I think are important.”