You can’t define soul, a singer either has it or they don’t, and if they don’t, you know it instantly. One sample of Etta James, a line of Nina Simone and a listen to Kat Dahlia, and you know they are genuine.

This may or may not be an introduction to the listener, but whether or not you have heard the haunting voice and powerful lyrics of Kat Dahlia, use

THIS PLAYLIST

as a window into the life of the Miami born, Cuban-American singer, songwriter and rapper. She sings and raps with refreshing honesty about subjects like money and relationship troubles, which people can relate to, not just bitches, hoes and dollars. I hope her talent as an artist helps her climb to success within an industry which can compromise females by the pressure to make music sell.

Epic Records has landed an epic talent if Kat Dahlia‘s track Gansta is any indication. A play on 50 Cent‘s chorus on Wanksta, a single from the 8 Mile soundtrack, Dahlia calls out her disdain for ganstas. As she tells her story over a piano melody, she’s seen the gansta lifestyle firsthand through her father, and it didn’t seem to get him anywhere.

Self-reliance is a trait Kat learned early to survive her riches-to-rags childhood. Her parents were once successful entrepreneurs who owned a moving company, but their business unraveled after they divorced, and Kat and three of her six siblings went to live with their mother.

 

“My parents came from no money, made money, but little by little went back to the struggle. We lived in a hotel room for a while and there was a time when I slept on a sofa-bed with two of my sisters while my other sister slept in an armchair. That’s when I realized I had to do shit on my own.”

By age 18, Kat had saved up enough money from waitressing at Miami hotspots to strike out on her own, however, the nagging feeling that she wanted more from life prompted her to move to New York. She soon settled in North Bergen, New Jersey, but on arrival in 2010, became derailed by a toxic relationship. A year later, she emerged confident, strong, running her own game and endowed with the insight to channel her emotions into songs.

 

This playlist and accompanying piece was created by Claire Hume, Music Blogger at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Wednesday!