All Hail The Queendom
The Queendom is an Atlanta based rap and r&b duo. Ronnie Rocket who does the majority of the singing, and Audia the Sound, who does most of the rapping, push the limits of what the feminine sound is. Their music is similar to Syd and The Internet, Nao, and Missy Elliott simultaneously. The duo prides themselves in the energy they bring to a show.
Rocket Ronnie (RR): We actually do everything. We produce, record...
Audia the Sound (AS): Do graphic design
RR: The only thing that we don’t do is mix our stuff, and that’s because I don’t feel like it (laughs).
Naya Clark (NC): So everything’s pretty DIY. What’s that like, doing everything on your own?
AS: It’s time-consuming, but when it comes to how we want to portray ourselves, I think how we do it has been the perfect way for us, because we’re the ones in control of it for the most part.
NC: How you portray yourselves, how are you different from each other? Well first off, what is your relationships to each other, and how does that affect your music?
AS: We’ve been friends for about…
RR: Six years. We weren’t really close until we actually became a group. We did a song together; we went to Georgia State together. God, was it six years? was 21. We did this song for this clothing line mixtape called “Classic”, and they just put us on a song together. I let my brother hear the song, and he was like “Oh my god, y’all need to be a group one day. Make sure that happens. So that stuck with me for 5 or 6 years. And so we would hang out every now and then, or we would see each other at the Georgia Aquarium and stuff like that. There was one day I was with my friend, and I was like “I really want to be in a group with Audia. I don’t know; it’s just been really sticking with me ever since my brother said something.” and then she called me probably 15 minutes later.
NC: Wow the power of saying things out loud!
RR: The crazy thing is, she was telling me “A friend of ours told me that you want to do music with me...I’ll produce for you.” and I was like “Produce?! I want to be in a group with you!” she was like “What?”
AS: I was so shocked. At the time, and even now, I see Ronnie as a well-rounded artist at times than I am, just because she knows how to maneuver in music and the scene better than I do. So I Iooked, and still do, look up to her in many aspects. So when she did say she wanted to be in a group me, it was like “Wow! What?! Me? Lil ol’ me?” And I’m glad we decided to unite, and now we’re a hip-hop and R&B duo that has aspirations to not only take over locally but globally.
NC: You both were doing music for how long individually beforehand?
RR: Since I was 9
AS: I’ve been producing since 2007
NC: How receptive are people to duos? There’s so many groups and individuals, but not many duos. How do people respond to that when you guys perform, or when people listen to The Queendom and realize it’s a duo?
AS: I feel like with our music, once we actually start on the stage and perform our songs, they’re in awe.
RR: They’re surprised because when they approach us, we’re quiet.
AS: We look and appear more reserved before we get on stage. When we get on stage, we rip it. So they’re always in awe, and then when we get off the stage people rush to us.
RR: It’s weird because we’re both used to being the nerds, or the lames, or “Who are you?” person. So it’s kind of weird now especially recently. The people we’re connected to in the scene, or becoming connected to, they’ve been watching us, so it's interesting.
AS: To find out that people are actually watching us.
RR: Yeah, and looking for our next move and what we’re going to do next. I feel like, going back to the whole duo aspect, I’m starting to see more duos.
NC: Since you’ve started?
RR: Since we’ve started. It’s like “Oh, I want a Mercedes Benz,” and then you always see Benzes, you know? I mean, there’s still a lack. It’s not that many. Especially female duos. Male duos, yeah.
AS: What’s the last one you can think of other than Oshun? The only one that I can think of after that is Floetry, as far as two females. Two women doing their damn thing.
RR: It’s not really out there like that, but hopefully we can…
AS: Be a part of the shift.
NC: Besides being a duo, what do you want to bring to Atlanta’s rap scene, or like you said, globally. What do you guys feel like you have to offer that nobody else has?
AS: For the most part, we have a very avant-garde sound. Yeah, we do hip-hop and R&B, but we bring it in a way the general public is not used to.
RR: That’s why they’re shocked. Our content is very explicit.
AS: It’s raw
RR: It’s very raw. Our content is what you would hear men sound.
AS: You know, “How men would talk.”
NC: I really like that aspect
RR: I don’t want to say all men, but generally, society they want women to come across as very feminine and very soft, and that’s fine but why can’t I talk about what my homie wants to talk about? Why can’t I go as hard as him? Why can’t I be loud? Why do I have to be quiet? So I guess that’s one of the reasons they’re shocked when we’re on stage because we’ll just “YEAH, WE’RE MOTHERFUCKING QUEENDOM IN THIS BITCH!” (laughs) And at first, they’re like “what?”,and then they’re like “YEAH!”
NC: So, there’s a shock factor?
RR & AS: Yeah, because afterwards, we go back to being sheltered, like “Ohmygod! Thank you!”
AS: It’s like we vibrate high hell when we’re on stage, and then we get off, we just kind of level out.
NC: Do you feel like you have a different persona as a rapper?
AS: I feel like I’m probably my most divine self when I’m on stage.
RR: Me too
AS: Not necessarily a different persona, just more of myself. I’m doing my thing, and when she’s doing her thing, she feels the same way.
NC: You both R&B tracks remind me of a mix between, SYD, The Internet, a little bit of NAO. Where do you get influence from? Because it’s really sexy sounding. Where do you get that?
RR: I love TLC. That’s like my biggest inspiration. As far as my rap inspiration, it’s actually Schoolboy Q. I love a lot of West Coast hip-hop.
NC: Are you guys both from Atlanta?
RR: Yes, born and raised: She’s from East Atlanta, and I’m from the south. I’ve actually only been rapping seriously since we’ve started The Queendom. I was mainly a singer. That was all I did.
AS: I challenged her to start rapping, and now she’s a beast!
RR: I kind of blend the West Coast vibe with the slang of Atlanta. It’s a fusion of the two.
AS: For me, my inspiration when it comes to music, in general, is production or rapping and singing is James Fauntleroy is my favorite singer/songwriter. I think he produces as well. Jay-Z, Ryan Leslie, Nipsey Hustle, Nas. I listening to a lot of local, or just general trap stuff too, for the amp and the amped energy, I guess I go for as well. For the most part, when it comes to deep influence, I think those are my top artists.
RR: What about Missy? She always talks about Missy Elliot.
AS: Oh yeah, Missy is definitely someone I want us to connect with, because we bring that sexy edge that she brought. I was listening to her mix like “Woah, her shit still sounds dope.”
NC: Even her prodigies. There’s something that she’s injected into them that bring out that sexy, aggressive, but still feminine. There’s something about her that’s still feminine even though she was bringing, I guess you can snay “masculine” aspects to rap. The only thing that was “masculine” about it is that she was saying things that she wanted to say.
AS: That doesn’t even define masculinity or femininity. It just defines boldness and being free to say whatever you want. I try to fight against that stigma.
NC: Do you feel like saying “We are a female rap duo” is important to say. Is that one of the first things that you’re going to say when you speak about The Queendom?
AS: I feel like it’s a given that we’re women. You see us. We have breasts. I guess whatever people see as feminine,we have those traits. At least, I feel like I carry both, like androgynous style, when it comes to even music or even the way that I appear. So yeah, I don’t think that it’s necessary for anyone to be like “Oh, female hip-hop artists,” just say a hip-hop/R&B duo.
NC: I feel like if you’re not a white dude people are like “A FEMALE rapper” or a “BLACK writer.” All of these other things come before the actual profession.
AS: I think the reason people do that is because they feel like there’s a lack of appreciation for those categories, so they put those titles on say “female rapper” or “female writer” because not enough female writers are being appreciated, but I don’t feel like that’s necessary, for us at least.
NC: Do you feel like it would be the same if content is good. Like, I feel like if I took on a white dude persona, I, don’t know how people would react. Say I started going by Stan Williams or whatever as opposed to Naya Clark. I wonder how people would receive it.
AS: Well society is stupid. They would gravitate toward you more and if you give them the opportunity to find out your actual name, and you’ve been doing greatness for years under an alias name, they’ll either choose to accept it because they’re in love with your content already, or they’ll be stupid and not continue to like it.
NC: I always wonder how people react. Say people just read your lyrics and didn’t even know, the ones that ones that don’t indicate anything (as far as gender), how would they feel as opposed to if someone said this is a Black female duo.
RR: From my lyrics, I feel like they’d be like
AS: This is hard
RR: This is definitely a dude. Until they hear certain parts
NC: What do you want people to think of when they hear The Queendom?
RR: Royalty! Gangsta!
AS: I want people to hear and experience us in our rawest form every time. Take it in. Even if it’s like “Oh my God this is too much,” but you need this because it’s real. There’s not a lot of realness out here. It’s shocking. Just accept the shock value, and keep going
Because if we perform and then the other performers in the show, nine times out of 10 you’re not receiving the same energy from each artist, so just taking the energy we’re bringing Tokyo because it's beneficial. It'll Inspire you. It'll move you. I believe.
RR: I just want them to view us as dope. Lately, we’ve been getting told that our energy is amazing. People that we look up to are telling us I’ve watched you at your first show and I just saw your amazing energy. Y’all are going to do great things. Y’all are queens. Y’all are like goddesses. It’s consistent.
AS: Even our next videographer, he’s like “My objective is to make sure you guys look like goddesses.”
RR: They get excited, it’s beautiful. We both have just dealt with growing up not really being in the forefront. Just really being dismissed, and so when we finally get that appreciation from people you’ve been watching, you’ve been studying, that you look up to, it’s mind-blowing. Especially these past few days. All of this that’s happened in the past few days was us just kind of realizing and saying that our manifestations are coming true.
AS: We literally say things and the next day or within that day, it’s happening. It’s scary. I just want to sit back and think how are we actually doing this?
NC: Black Girl Magic. So like you were mentioning, being dismissed growing up, and all, do you feel like this is something that’s come out of being dismissed?
AS: Especially for me. There’s anger.
RR: Yeah, our song QueenShit literally came from her being angry as fuck one day, and she just made a beat, she wrote her verse, and she recorded and sent it to me and was like “bitch, rap.”
AS: I was like, do it, don’t get help from nobody
RR: I was like “I can’t do this”
AS: And I was like “you’re going to do this.”
RR: I just thought she’s going to be the rapper, I’m going to be the singer, and then I just wrote my verse to Queenshit and it was amazing compared to what I thought it was going to be, and I’ve been encouraged to keep going.
AS: She keeps getting better and better.I realized just through the writing process; we have two different styles of writing, one. And then, two, we’re learning how to write in two different ways. I feel like writing for singing, and writing for rapping, they’re two different complexities. Just the whole process of her having to learn to write as a rapper, and me learning to write as a singer, better, we’ve experienced exponential growth. Really challenging each other to do better.
NC: What was you guys’ original writing style like.
AS: I was very wordy. I still am
RR: She still is, and since I write from a singer’s perspective my writing style, I study Jessie J. The type of music I like is Banks, I like SZA, I like TLC. I like for the voice to be an instrument. So I don’t have too many words. I don’t really need to say too much to get my point across.
AS: I have the tendency to over-explain, so when I do write I write like that. It’s more beneficial for rapping, less beneficial for singing. Sometimes what I do is write a rap first for a song that I plan on singing, and then I just cut out words and find ways to make my point come across the way it’s supposed to.
RR: Yeah, just make it a little bit more simple, because when it comes to singing, especially hooks, you don’t want to have the listener think too much. You want them to understand what you’re saying and get it.
NC: You both learn from each other, and work a lot together. What would you suggest for their rap duos, as far as not butting heads?
RR: Oh yeah. We’ve gone through it. Communication. Communication is key. Being each other a lot and learning each other’s tendencies.
AS: Personalities, timeline
RR: Even though we’re friends
AS: If it wasn’t for the Queendom, I would not have known you as well.
NC: I was expecting for you two to say you’ve known each other for a long time, and then decided to be a duo.
AS: We've actually known of each other for a long time. I’m actually now feeling like I know her as much as she’s allowed me to, probably more than other people have just like I’ve done for her. I feel like not only communication is vital, but commitment. Because you can communicate all day, yall can be cursing each other out saying “Fuck you” and “I’m going, and I’m not fucking coming back. Fuck this duo.” That’s a lot of communication taking place there. She can cuss me out tomorrow. I may be pissed tomorrow, but I come back like “Look,what did I do wrong?” and she tells me, and I fix it, and we’re back to being committed making sure everything is okay, and vice versa.
RR: We literally made a promise to each other like “We in this” so we’re going to make it. We’re going to continue to make music; there’s no leaving. She didn’t really sign a contract, but she signed…
AS: It’s out in the universe!
RR: Her ass is here
AS: And same for her!
NC: How does Atlanta treat you all. Have you been to another city to perform?
RR: We haven’t been out of the city yet
AS: It’s showing a lot of love
RR: Atlanta has mostly been great...mostly. Now there have been shows when we’ve been literally been put outside of our comfort zone, and was kind of weird for one or two shows.
AS: But mainly because organizers didn’t really know what they were doing as far as event coordinating
RR: It was just awkward for us because we we’re so used to shows being handled a certain way and it handled differently, and it wasn’t our people, we literally got booked because someone can. It’s interesting working with people that we don’t know at all, and crowds are different. There’s the difference between super indie crowd.
AS: Their mostly open to any kind of sound
RR: versus the trap scene where they’re just trying to be seen in very mainstream hip-hop. Mainstream indie hip-hop.
AS: And then there’s the extremely hood audience that just want to listen to trap music
RR: We have songs for them, but Queenshit would probably go over their heads.
NC: So, there’s a lot of variables involved
RR: We have a lot of music to work with. We do a lot of everything
AS: That’s one thing I love about The Queendom, we try our best to be versatile when it comes to genres. We’re not just limited to R&B and hip-hop. We just did a dance chillwave type song recently.
RR: Se produced a couple of pop beats too
NC: What else is upcoming?
AS: Our shows and also, we’re working on finalizing our next LP, and we just keep creating stuff, we’re currently working on releasing a mixtape called Fan Art Volume 1, and you know how you have a fan that’s an artist and they decide to paint their favorite musician and send their work to them. Our form of that is through Fan Art, where we’re basically revamping songs that we love and appreciate, and releasing them, and tagging the original artist in it. Just so they know they’ve actively inspired our creativity.
RR: We did one, that’s Fan Art. That’s actually the name of the first one, and it’s a remake of Willy Hen’s Art Class, and he absolutely
AS: Loved it!
RR: He Posted like “Oh my god, this is the first time someone ever remixed my song, and it was amazing. Go follow them, go listen!” That’s the fun part. Doing remixes and stuff. We’re always remixing, always creating, always being inspired by someone or someone.
NC: What is the process of making a song or a project from start to finish? From one of you getting an idea from something, you’re inspired by, to the finished product.
AS: As far as this project, I’ve been very spontaneous
RR: Very spontaneous
NC: Do you knock things out, or work a little at a time
AS: We knock things out once we get a concept
RR: I feel like our rap songs, because I’m not as particular with our rap songs. We knock those out very quickly.When it comes to singing I’m very particular. Like the songs has to be this way. I have to be singing this way. For her, I know I’m very annoying to record with. I will do like 50 takes, and the third one will probably sounded right. That’s just how I am. I’m a super perfectionist. It gets done
AS: ...EVENTUALLY (laughs)
RR: I just want to sound
NC: Did you have anything else you wanted to let the world know?
AS: Look out for us. You’re going to see us sooner than you think. Just be ready
RR: We’re bringing it. We have a lot in store that we’re working on. We’re excited, and people will be surprised because we surprise ourselves. I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised so just wait on it.We’re raining on you hoes. Not you hoes...but yeah. (Laughs)
The Queendom will be performing live at Plasma Fest 2017 on Saturday, October 14th at Chosewood Hall.