Canadian Artist Haviah Mighty Represents Strong Women in the Rap Game

Polaris Prize winner Haviah Mighty is making waves across North America with her unique style and powerful lyricism.

Pulling from the prejudices and experiences of living as a black woman in Toronto, rapper Haviah Mighty rose to popularity with "13th Floor," her first solo album. The 2019 release received the prestigious Polaris Award last fall. (Photo by Adeyemi "Soteeoh" Adegbesan)

Canadian rap artist Haviah Mighty is shaking up the music industry in Canada with her latest album “13th Floor.” Drawing from her experience as a black woman growing up in Toronto, Mighty’s lyrics focus on social justice issues like colorism, racism and sexism in her community. Her empowering lyrics encourage women of color to love the richness of their complexion and acknowledge their power.

At the 14th annual Polaris Music Prize Gala, Mighty was awarded the prestigious Polaris Prize. The prize is voted on by a Polaris jury of music industry professionals and the winning artist receives a $50,000 prize. Her first single on the album “In Women Colour” proclaims, “Love my skin, always been proud, guess that’s in now.” Mighty’s raspy flow tells the story of a history of systematic oppression in Canada and what it means for the future as progessive ideas signal potential societal shifts. 

When asked about the vibe of her music, Mighty is intentional about what she wants listeners to feel. “I would say that my music, from a production sense, is very fun explorative and different, and I like to collaborate with a lot of different ideas to come up with the final idea,” Mighty said. “It’s designed with the intention of provoking thought.” 

13 is a special number to Mighty, representative of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, and the track “Thirteen” confronts the surplus of black bodies targeted by the prison-industrial complex and the broken promises of the 13th Amendment. Every track on the album delivers important messages about the realities of many people of color in the United States and Canada.

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Coming from the former woman rap quartet The Sorority, Mighty is no rookie to the rap game. The group formed in 2016 on International Women’s Day, and ever since its members decided to pursue solo careers in 2019, they’ve rapidly begun changing the face of Canadian rap. Although Mighty is the first black woman to be awarded the Polaris Prize, previous winners of color include Kaytranada and Jeremy Dutcher. However, Mighty’s vibe is entirely different from the aforementioned recipients. 

Mighty is gearing up to play her first solo show in New York City on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Mercury Lounge. As someone who advocates for marginalized voices and representation in her music, Mighty has been creating her own lane from the beginning. “I gotta do two times more to get four times less,” raps the songstress on her hit “In Women Colour.”  

That said, the future is looking bright for the multi-talented artist. Mighty’s music has been making noise outside of Canada too, and in a game of “Jam or No Jam” with CBC music, pop star Lizzo vibed to “Blame” from “13th Floor.” After breaking from The Sorority, her debut as a solo artist has been warmly embraced by the likes of everyone from Pitchfork to Complex. 

Whether you appreciate fire bars or just need something new to add to your playlists, Haviah Mighty has a wide array of great bangers to vibe to. Her musical philosophy and aspirations to continually produce important pop can be distilled into a single quote of hers: “I hope for more opportunities to make the last opportunity look like a smaller opportunity. Knowing that you’ll be awarded at the end of the journey is really what it’s all about.”

Email Destine Manson at music[email protected]

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