The Rapper Mentoring the Next Generation of Female Producers

Dai Burger believes that when it comes to music production, young girls are "overlooked and undernourished." Her new 'Where My Girls' initiative is working to change that.

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Oct 13 2017, 4:07pm

Image by Oluwaseye Olusa

Last week, Queens rapper Dai Burger launched her Where My Girls initiative, a series of studio sessions with girls aged 10 to 18 teaching them the ropes of music production. Sick of seeing so few women behind-the-scenes of the music industry, Dai hopes to bring young girls into the technical and business conversations around music by teaching them everything from how to work a sound board to how to build a personal brand.

Broadly was at the first session of Where My Girls at Brewery Recording Studio in Brooklyn, where Dai recorded her latest album Soft Serve. There, the rapper led an intimate hands-on workshop that resulted in the creation of a song called "This Is a Girl's World," which every girl in attendance wrote and recorded lyrics on. The three-hour session included advice from Dai, who cheered and guided the girls from inside the recording booth, and a technical tour of the studio from founder Andrew Krivonos.

Dai stuck around after the session to speak with Broadly about why girls need to be included in every aspect of music production and why she feels compelled to be the one to make it happen.

BROADLY: Can you talk about how the idea for the Where My Girls Initiative came about?
Dai Burger: I'm from Queens and dance schools are big out there. You could go sign up for ballet, hip hop, tap, anywhere, any borough. There's no school where you could go sign up just to learn music and stuff like that. It doesn't exist and if it does it's rather expensive. Even if you have a certain passion, it's just not there. And if it is there it's not in abundance.

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I'm a female rapper, and being a female rapper doesn't come easy. It comes with having a point to prove, and you have to be better than good—you have to be great. Practice makes perfect. So I wish I would have started younger. I wish there was a program like this when I was young that could have gotten me on the track I'm on now because I had to figure it all out on my own. That's part of the struggle, but I don't want it to be that way. I said, I'm gonna help out if I can. The brewery is part of my team and we work together so we just came up with this idea to help young girls.

Can you explain what the project entails?
It's a music initiative. The brewery opened their space and their doors and we have access to everything. Stuff like this obviously costs money, and we're trying to invest in girls because some people don't have that. We want to introduce something a little different in each session, stuff that you will need to learn in order to make music. We're showing them the business side, staying on time, and the technical side, how to work the equalizer. You have to make sure these things are balanced. There is a process and if you take the time to learn it, it'll work. We want to give them the tools. They're young and ready to build. We gotta build them from now.

What stands out to me about the initiative is that it invites women and girls into the music industry in roles beyond being the talent— why was it important for you to include those technical and business aspects?
I love female producers, and they bring something so unique and different. And we don't want to separate, "Oh boys are this and girls are this," but we bring across a different perspective and different sounds. I love female producers and I wish there were more. And hopefully we can make some girls realize that maybe that's what they want to do. In the next session, I want to focus on building a beat from scratch.

Do you feel like it's a lot harder for girls to be given a chance in the music industry?
Yeah. It's harder for girls in anything musical, unless you're singing or doing something that's expected. When you're trying to deliver a different message or show your uniqueness, some people they get a little scared or don't want to go near that. But it's like well you're going to have to because we're doing it, nothing can stop us, we're gonna speak our minds. I'm big on people speaking their minds. It's like, if you have something to say, if there's a feeling you want to get across, let's get it out. Let it out, write it out, sing it out, rap it out, and make it happen. This is a space for girls to do that. You could see some of them were shy at first, and now look at them at the end. They boppin' like this is a hit.

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I'm all for girl power. I mean and shout out to the little guys out there doing it too. That's cool and I respect it, but I would just rather put my efforts on the girls because we are a little overlooked and undernourished, so I gotta fill that void.

Yeah I could definitely see a difference in the level of confidence in the girls at the beginning of the session in comparison to the end.
Yes. Like Janae, she didn't want to go and she did it and she killed it and she was feelin' it after. That's a confidence that you can't fake or teach. It's a process and you have to do it and learn it and conquer. Then, you can be proud of yourself like they all were. They were so proud, oh my god.

If you were speaking to a young, aspiring female rapper what advice would you give her?My favorite motto is do you, boo. I'm not gonna tell them what to do because then that's me telling them what to do. If you want to rap, well what you got to say? Say it and say it the best way you know how. You wanna sing it? Sing it out then. It's like do you, boo and do it one hundred percent. You're aiming for a hundred and even if you fall short, that's okay, that's your one hundred. You did it.