Festering in the belly of hip-hop is a humble, hungry voice screaming to emerge. Her lyrical vigor and reality-based drive fuels her metaphorical intensity - separating her from others and sanctifying her for exclusive use in the rap game. Setting booths and stages ablaze since the the start of her career, midwest emcee Bates pulls forward as a force to be reckoned with and a voice for those lost.
After high school, Bates linked with a few notable spitters known for their lyricism and raw, cutting-edge content to form the hardcore rap group Xplicit. It wasn’t long before Bates began to stick out like a sore thumb. Her listeners became hypnotized by her rough, raspy tone and energetic delivery. As an unrepentant bar queen rising in the age of eroticism in female hip-hop, Bates’ edgy demeanor and nonconformist attitude gave her the extra edge needed to gain respect in a male-dominated and often misogynistic music industry.
In 2006, Bates release her last project, Lethal Legends with Xplicit and began branding herself as a solo artist with The Normaggedon Mixtape (2007). Released before the rise of social media, the project allowed the young star to fine-tune her style as a solo artist and master tactics necessary to survive the upcoming metamorphosis hip-hop would undergo during the next decade.
Collaborative projects like Lethal Legends and City Art (2009) allowed Bates to broaden her audience by tapping into the rap-rock fusion sound, while still pleasing the streets.Her next solo project, Normageddon (2010) was praised for its lyrical content and realism. It also served as a segway for The Wonderful Mixtape (2011) to be embraced for its creative, honest candor across a diverse group of listeners.
The pivot in Bates’ career occurred when she met soul singer, Notes, who introduced her to T.R.U.E., an indie producer also striving to challenge the status quo and establish his own record label. Soon after, Bates joined the super-charged, St. Louis rap cadre H.A.R.D Asylum. The group released Tha Front (2012) then followed it with Tha Committed (2014). Tha Committed was a double-disc of bold and beautiful bars packed with aggression, cockiness and the beauty of the struggle.
The group became popular almost as fast as it lost wind. Life matters sent members in different directions, leaving Bates rebranding herself again. The end of one era led to the beginning of another. Music lovers didn’t ignore the imprint Bates made on their hearts as both a group member and a solo artist.
At the start of 2015, Bates was awarded ‘Best Female Hip-Hop Artist’ during the St. Louis Underground Music Awards and was featured in many notable publications throughout the city. She followed her success that year with The Great DeBates (2015), a subject-by-subject mixtape that addressed everything from the commercialization of mainstream radio stations to the shooting death of Mike Brown, whose death at the hands of Ferguson police sparked global outrage.
That fall, the emcee released the official video for her record Tell Jesus- a visual masterpiece fueled by visionary direction, raw emotion, six vocalists and TRUE On Tha TRAC on the beat. The video went on to become an underground staple in St. Louis and in 2016 won the Slumfest Award for ‘Best Video’.
The 2016 Slumfest Awards proved to be the Year of Bates. She was awarded ‘Best Video’ for “Tell Jesus,” ‘Best Female Hip-Hop Artist’ and became the first woman to take home ‘Artist of the Year’ in its ceremonial history. This flood of affirmation sent Bates into a creative frenzy, ensuring that her next project would wow its listeners.
In the summer of 2016, Bates’ album For Colored Folk took the city by storm. The Riverfront Times called it “a navigation through spiritual, social and political minefields— a crossroads of intersectional issues that she attacks head-on while aiming straight for the gut,” with “a brash vibe that respects the time and intelligence of her peers and fans alike”.
For Colored Folk went on to win 'Album of the Year' in the 2017 Slumfest Music Awards. The project also topped ULSTN Radio’s best projects above some serious competition and raised the bar for St. Louis rappers. Bates summer 2017 album Strange Woman, set the standard for releases from independent, female emcees. Hailed the 'no-skip' project by listeners because of its incredible flow from beginning to end, Strange Woman made waves nationally after Hip Hop DX ensured Bates was is currently working on her next album, Strange Woman, which is scheduled to release Summer 2017.