“Bitches ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks,” raps Snoop Dogg. The West Coast lyric has become a classic. It’s a perfect example of how many men—and women—view women’s role in hip-hop.
It makes one wonder why any intelligent woman would enjoy rap music.
“To be, like, honest, I always had a hard time with rapping because it was so sexual,” says Kiera Sears, who goes by Audibl on the mic.
The 26-year-old rapper, slam poet and single mother knows she is swimming upstream against some pretty strong currents of stereotypes.
To add to the already stacked odds: She’s white. She’s in college. She comes from a fairly affluent family.
An unlikely candidate to break into Reno’s often elitist hip-hop scene.
So she moved to New York City—the birthplace of hip-hop.
This was a couple years ago, before she gave birth to her now 4-month-old son, and before she had developed her own style.
“I was just afraid before of putting something out there and having it not be what I wanted it to be,” says Sears.
“If you’re not sure of who you are, and you jump into a scene like that, people will mold you into something you don’t want to be. And next thing you know, you’re Britney Spears having a mental breakdown.”
Sears would find that hip-hop is over-sexualized in the Big Apple, too. At one point, she was talking with G. Love (of G. Love and Special Sauce), who she says that, in not so many words, told her to sit on his face.
It was time to come back to Reno. And perhaps, she thought, rapping wasn’t the best way to occupy her time.
Then she gave birth to her son, a turning point in her career.
“I realized that I didn’t need a man” for empowerment, she says, in life or in music.
The thing about Reno, she explains, is that hip-hop here is not as sexualized.
“It doesn’t matter if you got the tits and ass,” she said. “You have to know your shit.”
And you have to pay your dues.
Sears paid her dues the old fashioned way—battle rapping.
She was at the long-gone Blue Lamp open-mic, where various rappers in Reno gathered. A rapper from out of town had shown up one night, overdressed in an Oakland A’s jumpsuit and ranting on the mic about how lame Reno was until Sears—sporting a skirt and high heels—got on stage and tore him apart.
As far as the Reno rappers were concerned, Sears was one of them.
But even if the white girl from the suburbs has earned her rights in Reno, it’ll be an uphill battle to make it in the bigger cities—without using sex appeal that is.
Sears feels the need to have a rhyme style as unique as her position in hip-hop. That’s why she’s turned to spoken word poetry. She helped form Spoken Views, an event happening every third Thursday at Se7en Teahouse and Bar. With spoken word, she can express herself without the rules and stereotypes of the hip-hop genre. But her spoken-word poems show a hip-hop influence. She even waves her free hand like rappers do. In the other hand, she holds her son.
Sears hasn’t released any music yet. She is working on a mix-tap with various rappers and poets.
Now experienced from her trails and tribulations, is willing to take on whatever gets thrown at her.
She’s like the Mary Tyler Moore of hip-hop.