In hip-hop, there are various cities that get their props for contributions to the culture. Industry connoisseurs always sing the praises of places such as New York City, California and Atlanta for blessing the world with some of the greatest talent and tunes that music has ever known. However, some areas fall by the wayside when it comes to the adoration. One such place is Detroit. Though the D has a rich culture all its own, it never seems to come up in the regional debates. The Motor City has produced cultural legends such as Eminem and J Dilla, along with a throng of notable acts including Big Sean, DeJ Loaf, Trick Trick, Royce Da 5’9”, Tee Grizzley, D-12 and Danny Brown to name a few. This stellar tradition only begets more acts worthy of your listens.
One Detroit emcee looking to add her name to the shuffle of relevant local acts is none of than Lucy Ghavalli. At the age of 27, she is making her name for herself as a creative powerhouse that creates music, full-length movies and a clothing line. Her star has been noticed after some chance openings for the likes of Megan Thee Stallion and YFN Lucci, and labels have let her know that they are watching.
As she preps her next release, Inner Demon, which is slated for a December release, Lucy sat down with us for a few words about her budding career, pursuits and ambitions. Check out what she had to say below:
Don Diva: What was life like for you coming up on the East Side of Detroit?
Lucy Ghavalli: Coming up from the East Side of Detroit, life was pretty crazy. For me, my mom kept me sheltered in the house due to a lot of gang violence. A lot of my childhood friends died. A lot of death going on on the East Side.
DD: It doesn’t seem like a lot of people know there was a lot of gang activity in Detroit.
LG: Yes, it’s crazy in Detroit. If you don’t stay to yourself, you can get wrapped up in so much drama and it got worse over the years. It’s really bad now.
DD: How did you get into making music?
LG: As I said, my mom kept me pretty much sheltered so I had to stay in the house a lot. So when I was in my room growing up, I used to write poetry. My brother had a friend named Jake MC and he was a rapper. I used to always want to get into the studio. I didn’t really know anybody doing music other than him. So he was the first person to ever put me in the studio to do music. So my music started from poetry, and then from that point, it became rap.
DD: Who are some of your influences in the way you rhyme?
LG: J. Cole is a big part of my influence. Honestly, I developed an interest in rapping when I heard Lil’ Bow Wow rapping. So, Eve, Jay Z, Nipsey, Big Sean. Big Sean for sure.
DD: For somebody who’s never heard your music, what would you say your style is? What do you think people walk away after consuming your music?
LG: Personally, I don’t think I sound like any artist. But lately, I’ve been hearing Lauryn Hill. I never really get that feeling. I understand why people would say Lauryn Hill because we are both very spiritual, but to be put on the level of Lauryn Hill, that’s pretty steep. But lately, people have been saying I remind them of Lauryn Hill.
DD: What has your rap career been so far, dropping projects, people you’ve worked with? How has your career been going?
LG: My career has been going really well. Since November, I’ve seen a consistent flow. I opened up to a couple of celebrities, like Megan Thee Stallion, YFN Lucci. And since I’ve opened up for them, it opened up many more doors for me. A lot of labels have been reaching out to me. My work ethic has improved, and a lot of things have actually been progressing for me.
DD: Looking at everything that’s out there about you, you seem like a pretty creative person. You’ve got a clothing line, you’ve dropped movies. What do you owe your creativity to?
LG: A lot of things drive me to create. My self drives me to create. Growing up, you don’t really see a lot of people chasing their dreams. Growing up in Detroit, you see a lot of people dying or a lot of people going to jail, or a lot of people not doing nothing with their life. And that only motivates me more to not want to be a statistic. I’m all about breaking generational curses and generating generational wealth.
Growing up and seeing the same people that I’ve seen since I was a child being in the same predicament, just doing the same shit year after year; that type of stuff motivates me to say, ‘You’ve got to get out’.
I always tell myself, I don’t want to be 50 or 60 and I’d be like, ‘you coulda, woulda, shoulda; and I could have been somebody’. So I just start now.
DD: Betrayal, that came out in 2018.
LG: Yes. I put out two movies and then I have another one coming out next month.
DD: Oh wow! Did you write them?
LG: Yes, I wrote them. I have a business partner who helps me direct it, and he also edits. I sit down and edit with him, but he does the leg work.
DD: What is it about the film that makes you want to pursue that?
LG: With filmmaking, I pretty much liked the writing process of it because I’m a good storyteller. That’s honestly what I really like about the whole film and movies. For me to create a project and then see people act it out and actually come out on a big screen here in my city, that’s really what it’s about for me.
DD: I saw Betrayal had over 600,000 years on it. That’s just all like from the muscle, like people fucking with you?
LG: Yes. Here in the city, not a lot of people do movies, so it’s not that common. And then me being in the LGBT community and just being an overall cool person, a lot of people just gravitated towards my movie. When I put it out to the public, after we premiered it in the theater, I put it out on my Facebook page, and then it just went viral from there.
DD: You said you’re a part of the LGBT community. But the rap industry hasn’t been the most open to the LGBTQ community. Has that been an obstacle in your rap career?
LG: To be honest, no. I thought I would. When I first started rapping, the industry just started looking at me. Young MA had been out for a few years now, so it really opened up the doors.
A lot of people don’t really look at who I am. Instead of, ‘Oh, she’s a lesbian’, they’d be like, ‘Oh, you really can rap, you really can do music.’
DD: The clothing line is Ghavalli Exchange; that’s a cool name. That’s a dope name. How did that come about? What is your experience with selling clothes?
LG: When I sell you my product, it’s like me giving you an exchange with me. So usually with my clothes, I pray over each piece of clothing before I give it out. I’m just pretty much sustained in the wisdom that I learned in life with anybody that I come across. And that’s pretty much how I came up about Ghavalli Exchange.
DD: How has the business been for you?
LG: To be honest, my clothing line sells pretty well. And that’s not me being arrogant. I just really put it out to the world about two, three months ago, and I made a nice profit from it. And I did not expect it and I don’t really know what I expected from it.
DD: In your music career, is there anybody you haven’t worked with that you would drop everything to work with right now?
LG: Only a few people that I really would drop and just go work with. Pharrell, J. Cole. If Nipsey was here, I would just want to get wisdom from Nipsey and work on music with him as well. Big Sean, Eve; It’s not like a lot of mainstream artists that I really care to work with, but just a few who I’d love to work with.
DD: Do you have any new projects or anything coming up that your fans can look forward to?
LG: Yes. I have a mixtape called ‘Inner Demons’ coming out. I’ll probably release it in December.
DD: Would that be on all streaming platforms?
LG: Yes, it will.
DD: When it’s all said and done, what do you want your legacy to be as Lucy Ghavalli in the culture?
LG: I just really want the culture to perceive me as someone who is almost that legend status because I want to really give back. That’s really why I want to break off into the music industry so I can make a lot of money from my music, so I can give back and open up shelters and recreation centers for the kids, and housing for the homeless. There are a lot of things that I want to do. And I want to just go down in history as a legend and a great entertainer.