The DJ transitioned into the apt Erykah Badu song "The Healer" right before hip-hop duo SolSis took the stage at the Shadow Lounge on a recent Friday night. Veterans of Shadow's guild of mainstay movers and shakers, Ma'Ve Sami and YahLioness have been involved in the hip-hop and spoken-word scene for more than a decade, going back to the days of the Bridgespotters Artists Collective around the turn of the millennium. Playing Shadow that night was like coming home.
"We met at an open mic where Ma'Ve was a member of an artist collective when I first came back to Pittsburgh," YahLioness explains. "We realized we had this sort of creative chemistry."
The nature of the open mics, which serve as salons for the musically inclined and lyrically gifted, fostered the two artists' collaborative efforts in a seemingly effortless, organic way. Fun wordplay between poets manifested into serious songwriting. Now the two find themselves with enough material for an album, and with a growing and excited fan base tired of hip hop's male dominance and glossy, Nicki Minaj- and Beyoncé-informed version of womanhood.
Never shy about expressing their opinions on the issues that arise from being women in the genre, the pair still manage to remain lyrically positive, hinting at their struggles but never taking a back seat or quiet position. A recent demo called Can't Let a Day Go By offers the thought: "Never live your life through your fears, it's all tragic." Their music is inspired but wisely informed.
Unintimidated by the patriarchy of hip hop, SolSis aims to transcend the gender divide by simply making good music with a message.
"I am completely exasperated with boys' clubs and all of that shit," Ma'Ve says. "We've got to take this game back."
Check out SolSis tracks on SoundCloud at: www.soundcloud.com/solsis-1.