I’Sis Isn’t Afraid To Be Herself

Image via Clayton Jones

I’Sis is more than just a pretty face from New Orleans. As a staple of Jet Life Recordings’ growing family, the 22-year-old rapper is quietly becoming a standalone lyricist in her own right. But more importantly, she’s becoming the best version of herself – on her own terms. 

In 2021, the sharp-tongued femcee released her debut EP, Welcome To My City – a six-track effort that serves as a snapshot of the NOLA’s buzzing music scene. Through a pocket of easily digestible one-liners and stories that combine her personal experiences, beliefs, and goals into a cohesive message, I’Sis proved that she can go bar for bar with her contemporaries.

From being dealt a bad hand in life (a lot of the men in I’Sis’ family died because of violence) to taking on a great deal of responsibility as a child, I’Sis persevered through all her perils unscathed. But a closer examination reveals that a big part of who she is today is because of what she’s experienced. 

I’Sis explains, “When my daddy died, my momma got into an accident six months later.” “When she finally got home (from the hospital), it was like I was the man of the house.”

Over the years, I’Sis became emboldened by the discovery that she’s an inspiration to others. As she continues to find her way and come into her own, the Louisiana rapper is completely unbridled and not afraid to be herself.

Is I’Sis your real name? 

That’s my real birth name. It’s actually spelled with the apostrophe and people will forget about that so when I started using this name (as an artist), I had to make sure (the apostrophe) was in there. 

What was it like growing up in NOLA?

It was rough. It was cool. When you’re growing up, you kind of get to know everybody – New Orleans is very small, so everybody knows everybody: your sisters’ baby daddy is cousins with this one and you’re best friends with this one. It was real treacherous, it’s violent. It takes ten minutes to get around the whole city.

Have you always had a strong sense of self? Having confidence is a big part of being an artist. 

I always wanted to jump in front of the camera. If anybody in the family had a camera around, I was thinking they was taking pictures of me. Then, I wanted to be a cheerleader so my mom put me in cheerleading. I was captain so I was already building my audience basically. After cheerleading, I started dancing. My first time performing I had background dancers. I was like 15, and it was at my dance recital. I just kept dancing, performing in parades (you know, for Mardigras and stuff). I’ve always been active in front of a crowd so (my confidence) has never been a thing. As far as talking, I didn’t start having confidence in rapping until I was graduating high school. I knew what I wanted to do but I was kind of shy. It took me a minute to really break out of my shell. 

Did you always have a strong support system – your own cheerleader in a sense? 

I was kind of popular when I started dancing and stuff – and my mom let me have an Instagram; I used to be doing tricks and dance moves, so people knew who I was. My number one supporter was always my mom. She was there throughout everything when nobody else was. 

“All the men in my life was either dead or locked up!” Can you expand on this caption?

Growing up, a lot of the men in my family were killed because of violence. Me and my dad wasn’t always around each other because he was always in jail or had to move out of town because he got in some trouble. My last time seeing him, I was like six years old and… I don’t have too many memories, but he died when I was eleven. Before he died, my padre died. My padre was my mom’s best friend – that was her blood cousin. He died, then my older cousin died and all of his friends that he grew up with, they kept getting locked up. Then my uncle died, my grandma brother died, it’s like all the men in my family just kept dying. When my daddy died, my momma got into an accident six months later. She was hospitalized for like six months. She was paralyzed the moment she got to the hospital, so when she was in the hospital, I was at my grandma’s house. When (my mom) finally got home, it was like I was the man of the house. My momma didn’t have a boyfriend or anything like that so it was just me taking care of her. I had to learn how to be her nurse; I did everything around the house; I went in the stores, made the groceries; I called the people on the phone; I learned how to do my own hair. 

That’s a lot of responsibility for a child. 

I was eleven and I had to really put my “big girl pants” on. 

God give his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. And in spite of everything you went through, you prevailed. What keeps you motivated? 

What motivates me the most is the kids in the city because they believe in me. They believe in me more than I believe in myself. Everybody believes in me so it gotta be something. I can’t give up. It’s like every person I meet along the way, they tell me, “Keep doing what you’re doing.” And I don’t even know half of the people sometimes. 

Curren$y believes in you, too. How did your situation with Jet Life come into the mix? 

Jet Life is the only label in New Orleans that’s really active. That’s the only thing we have in New Orleans, Jet Life and Curren$y. Curren$y still lives in New Orleans. You can catch him on a Sunday probably poppin’ his shit with the cars, so it’s very at home. For you to have something like that in your area, I wanted to be a part of that. I had met Mousa, my manager, because he’s like the godfather of New Orleans with this music shit. Everybody that’s not from New Orleans knows Mousa. We had some of the same friends when I was getting into the loop of meeting new people. I met Mousa and I was looking for a job so I asked if he needed help around the store ‘cause (Jet Life) has a big apparel store. I started working at the Jet Life store and one day Mousa was like, “Play your music. Y’all, she rap.” I was playing my music and Spitta (Curren$y) had walked up the stairs and stopped, and he was like, “Who that is rapping?” And everybody looked shocked because he never does that. So, he started looking at me more and me and Mousa stayed in touch on the music side. Then, I dropped my project, Welcome To My City, with a Cash Money tribute and the whole city was fuckin’ with it. My views shot up with no marketing or plan – it was just me uploading on YouTube. When I posted that, (Mousa) was like, “We want you,” and they gave me a chain, I signed my deal and that was that. 

You were dropping a string of singles leading into your EP debut. Is that your go-to strategy or was that the most practical thing to do?

Nah, I didn’t even want to drop singles. When I started getting on TikTok, this guy reached out about trying to manage me and that was my first time with something like that happening. I listened to what he had to say, we met up, and he became my manager. Everything he wanted to do, I didn’t want to do: I wanted to drop a project but he wanted to keep dropping singles. It was a lot of miscommunication so a lot of my drops didn’t have music videos. It was like a lesson learned. 

Outside of the compilation project (Welcome To Jet Life Recordings 2), 2022 has been quiet for you in terms of new music. What’s the plan this time around? 

I don’t know. When I signed, I was excited but we were still putting the plan together – we was just getting situated. I’ve recorded a lot of music over time but I haven’t put it out. My last single, I didn’t have a chance to shoot a music video because…you know. But yeah, I’ve been locked away, recording – I have two projects done. I’m ‘bout to drop a single, it’s called “Ringtone.” We don’t have a date yet but that’s coming real soon. Then, I have a mixtape with all remixes, it’s all old beats. I was supposed to be dropping a project on August 26th but (Curren$y) was like, “Hol’ up, we gotta show ‘em that you can really rap.” He was like, “I want you to do this,” and I did it in two weeks. He was like, “This how many songs we need. You think you can handle that?” And I wasn’t gon’ tell ‘em no. I said, “You fuckin’ right” [laughs]. So, I got two projects dropping and I can’t wait. That’s really what I’ve been holding on to but I’m ready to just let it go. 

You want to drop but Curren$y’s saying wait. Is that a frustrating position to be in as an artist or are you appreciative of his tutelage? You know, learning to trust the process. 

Me and Spitta are just now building a real relationship. He travels a lot, so we’re never really locked in the studio, but lately, we’ve been vibing. He’s giving me the game and showing me what he wished he would’ve done differently. A lot of Jet Life fans are Curren$y fans but I’m a different artist. But since he’s an OG, he knows what he can push. When you’re working with an icon that has a different crowd, you gotta figure out how to make it work. 

How do you work TikTok? A lot of artists have success on the platform but that doesn’t necessarily mean followers are converting to active listeners. 

Whenever I post my music, I get good reviews. People follow me for different reasons: some think that I’m pretty; some think I can dress; some think I can rap; some think I’m funny; some wanna be with me. I feel like all of that just ties into being a complete artist so when I put my music out front, they already paying attention to me. The only thing I’m tryna do now is get a song going on TikTok, but it’s not easy because it has to be a trend already going. The trend has to start, and as an upcoming artist that’s on TikTok, if you’re just uploading music, people have to really engage wit it because it’s a lot of sounds on TikTok. That’s all (TikTok) is – sounds.

Talk to me about I’Sis and Dutchess. Is that part of your approach to being a complete artist and showcasing more of your lifestyle? People in the limelight tend to keep their relationships under wraps, but couples are reshaping influencer marketing now. 

Yes it is. I haven’t been in a relationship in three years, so when I met this girl, I instantly fell in love. We wasn’t really posting pictures at first, we wasn’t wit that. Everybody kept telling us to make a YouTube etc., but when we do photoshoots – that’s really like my best friend – people wanna see more. Ion mind, people are going to gravitate towards me regardless. A lot of stuff be fake and Ion have anything to hide. Even when I post pics, I’ve always been on the relationship Instagram pages. Since I was in high school, if I took a picture with a girl that I was dating, nine times out of ten the picture blew up so I’ve always been on pages like that. 

What did you learn from performing at Rolling Loud Miami with Curren$y bringing you out? 

I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that Spitta was performing at Rolling Loud and I wanted to perform. I asked ‘em if he was gon’ bring me on stage and he said, “Of course, you coming with us.” Jet Life ended up doing a sponsorship wit Backwoods so we had a tent behind the gates where all the artists were. When the day came and I finally went on stage, my adrenaline was pumping. That was probably the largest crowd I’ve performed in front of. It was a memorable moment for me.

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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