Hip-hop champion against all odds

Hip-hop artist, rapper and Witsie, Gigi LaMayne will be representing South Africa at the Miami Music Conference at the end of the month.

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Gigi LaMayne is representing SA hip-hop at the Miami Music Conference.                          Photo: Ilanit Chernick

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Gigi LaMayne is representing SA hip-hop at the Miami Music Conference. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

LaMayne, otherwise known as Genesis Garbriella Tina Manney, is a third-year BA student who has beaten the odds to get to this point.

She grew up in what she calls “a dysfunctional family”. Her mom, who has been her ‘rock’, left to work as a nurse in England when she was just seven, and returned only when LaMayne was 15.

“My dad was an alcoholic and things were not stable … We moved around a lot. I grew up in the rough parts of Lenasia, Yeoville and Soweto.”

Her parents divorced during her time as a Richard Branson Scholar in England.

LaMayne was passionate about music from age 11 but discovered her talent for hip-hop through her love of poetry at boarding school.

“I was bullied at school and music was my only way out. I would just put my earphones in and find a place to listen away from everyone.”

“I’d always wanted to be a performer but just didn’t know which direction to take it. I studied drama at school too so there were a lot of options.”

“It’s not easy for women to make it in the hip-hop world. Women are so objectified in the entertainment and music world.”

Her journey into music was a difficult one. She was turned down four times by local record labels and when she approached Dream Team SA, was convinced they would “say no too”.

“It’s not easy for women to make it in the hip-hop world. Women are so objectified in the entertainment and music world.”

In her first year at Wits she was the first female to make it to the finals of the Sprite Uncontainable competition, where she came second.

She was then voted best female Hip-Hop artist in 2013 and 2014 at the South African Hip-Hop Awards. Recently she won the Jack Daniels music scout competition and part of the winning prize is to represent South Africa at the Miami Music Conference.

Her message to Witsies: “In the words of Eric Thomas, “you should be like a lion, not a gazelle”. Always have something internal to drive you. There needs to be a “why” in everything you do.”