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New Castle-born rapper Ensilence refuses to dwell on gender disparity

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"I just do me": Ensilence on the cover of her latest, No Good Things

The fact that there are few female figures in Pittsburgh's burgeoning hip-hop scene isn't necessarily an anomaly; American hip hop in general has a severe dearth of women MCs. But the talented, prolific and, thus far, underrated New Castle-born rapper Britney "Ensilence" Eggleston tends to ignore the tilted gender scales. With her latest release, No Good Thing, still germinating on the Internet after a late-August release, her work and vision keep her motivated beyond the "battle of the sexes" trope that's inherent in being a woman in contemporary hip hop.

"There is definitely a [gender] barrier in this industry, and I think it's been like that for some time," Eggelston says. "[But], I honestly don't feel any way about it. I guess that's because I'm so used to doing what I do that I'm just grateful to get the opportunity to work with others that are just as passionate about music as I am."

Of course, Eggleston's refusal to dwell on gender bias doesn't mean her brand of stridently East Coast-inspired hip hop -- inspirations like Nas' storytelling and RZA's gritty production are well represented -- doesn't come with a heavy social conscience. 

Between the album art of her last release (the Billie Holiday-inspired Strange Fruit EP, which depicted a civil-rights-era battleground on the cover, fire hoses and all) and the shotgun blast of No Good Things opener "Out to Get Me" (which features devastating couplets like "crime bosses hold the city hostage / the block resembles a mosh pit"), Eggleston appears determined to keep her gaze fixed at the street level while paying tribute to hip hop's past.

"I'm in love with the art of wordplay mixed with poetry, or what one calls ‘reality rap,'" says Eggleston, "[but, No Good Things] to me was a reflection of the golden age. It isn't concept-heavy, but the flow of it also feels fresh and right." 

Eggleston plans on making her presence as Ensilence a larger fixture in Pittsburgh's hip-hop scene over the coming months, building projects with like-minded collaborators (like BusCrates 16-Bit Ensemble) and performing regularly. As for being an up-and-coming female MC in what is a predominantly male-saturated rap culture?

"I really don't stress it. I just do me. My focus is to make great music with great artists and continue to build on that foundation for the future."

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