BP: I don’t know if you’ve heard a lot about the Wu-Tang reunion concert that happened…
TS: Oh yeah absolutely! That was packed, right?
BP: Yeah! Basically it facilitated this discussion on social media about promoters and the difference between the ones pushing their own agenda and the ones that are pushing hip hop culture forward. You’re one of those people that does push hip hop culture forward. How do you ensure that happens?
TS: It’s really weird. In the beginning, I think that I started off using my name so to speak to help propel, because at the time I was doing MTV frequently. I think in the beginning, like on the fliers and stuff, it used to say “Tika Simone Presents” and I thought that sounded so whack after awhile. Even though I am that kind of person, like I definitely like being in the public eye. I’m not shy or afraid to be seen and I’m certainly invasive. I do not mind being the centre of attention, don’t get it twisted, but there’s a time and a place for everything and I just didn’t feel like that was the time or the place. I don’t feel like I should be responsible for taking recognition for somebody else’s talent. By all means, reference The Known Unknown, we’re creating a platform, but I just curate it, I host it, and I put it together, quite simply and I produce it. I don’t think it’s that deep.
The reason why I started it was to see more showcases. I have seen a couple more pop up. Like, Big Ticket and Liive Thursdays which are great platforms! There was a time when people used to hit me up and out of respect be like, “Yo, I’m going to start a showcase and I wanted to know if it was cool if I did something near the same day as you,” and I’m like “I don’t care. By all means, do it. This is why I’m doing it. I want to see more.”
There weren’t any in the beginning and I would hope that once I leave someone would pick up the torch and get the shit together. It’s just not about you and at some point you have to realize that. It just isn’t about you. I feel like a lot of great strength is shown in what goes unnoticed. I stand behind that. I’m comfortable sticking to behind-the-scenes when it comes to my event series and what I do. I’m more interested in getting recognition for journalism and interviewing people, which is something that I’ve branched into a lot more. Interviewing Jhené Aiko was a great experience and I love that I came up with those questions myself and was able to create a really great environment for her in a conversation. I’ll take recognition for that all day. When it comes to people’s God-given talent, you know what I mean shining on stage, fuck all of that, whatever. That’s what they did. Not what I did.
BP: Another topic that I find is really current is the old hip hop heads versus the new ones, with the old ones saying that the new generation doesn’t know what “real” hip hop is, and then the newer generation will defend today’s music because it is evolving and moving forward. Do you think that the current state of hip hop is as “real” as real hip hop? Do you like the change that’s happening?
TS: I like all change. I like all shifts. I think that change is important when it comes to the culture and growth. You know, hip hop is hip hop. People are going to argue until the day they die what constitutes as real versus what’s fake, what’s rap versus what’s hip hop. I’m not really into positions. I’m totally into uplifting and genre-bending, so I try to steer clear of breaking our people apart when it comes to music because it’s truly one of the things that seems to be bringing us together. I don’t really have anything to say. At the end of the day, when we first started Known Unknown, we started off with focusing on headliners that were reputable, dope rappers and young opening acts. I remember a few years ago, I want to say like three years ago when we were still Intimate and Interactive, we had a show with Solitaire and we had Solitaire and all of these opening acts that were young and on the rise and new hip hop, they knew about him and respected him. I think that the correlation is important. I think that give respect when respect is due and pay your dues. In the same respect, the older generation needs to respect the new generation, the new school, and we just keep it moving. It’s a culture. It should all just be a family. It doesn’t mean a dialogue can’t be created but let’s all be respectful. We’ve come too far to be beefing about music. It’s redundant.
BP: One question I always ask is what are your vices or guilty pleasures?
TS: I enjoy reality television like everybody else. It’s evolving pop culture and I totally feed into it. That’s really my shit. It’s terrible. I love indie music with such an unbridled passion. It’s not even a joke. I don’t just listen to hip hop and R&B all day. I started off with that. It’s actually getting to the point where I’m kind of bored with it right now. I’ve listened to so much, so I’ve been kind of dabbling in a lot of indie, UK-rock, which seems to be tickling my fancy. I love Murder She Wrote, that’s like my favourite show ever. I’m such an old woman. I love Murder She Wrote, Golden Girls, anything involving old people and their ways of being able to say whatever’s on their mind without giving a shit because they know they’re going to die like next week, I love it. I love anything witty or borderline disrespectful toilet humor. I love ratchet hip hop. I’m a big supporter over here. I love trap. Totally into it.
I also forcefully cry. I’m a sucker for a sob story. My closest friends know if they send me something that will make me cry, I’m so into it. I’m just like ‘Oh My God, this is so devastating,’ and I’m bawling. I just love it. I totally love crying. I love a sob story. Send it over to me and I’ll be in tears and I’ll be like ‘Thank you, that totally made my day.’
BP: As an accomplished and confident woman, what is some of the advice that you could give our readers, specifically our female readers, about pursuing their goals in the industry?
TS: If people are talking about you, you’re doing something right. Don’t pay attention to it. Stay focused. If you gotta be a bitch sometimes, by all means, do it. It’s necessary. I would also say try to stay recluse and be protective of personal feelings and be aware of who you share your personal feelings with. Educate yourself always. Never close yourself off to educating yourself. Be an educational sponge. Don’t be greedy about what you learn either. Try to teach as much as you learn.
I think that as a woman, it’s difficult being in such a cut-throat industry. There’s a certain Je ne sais quoi, but honestly, if you kind of stick to a few of those things, you’ll be in good shape. You’ll be in really, really good shape. Just stay true to yourself.
BP: What can we expect next from Tika, aside from all of the projects, just from you as an individual?
TS: Right now I’m focused on rebranding The Known Unknown and re-launching next month. I’m also currently working on Andreena’s project (formerly Andreena Mill) and working very closely with the video media company BLKDMNDS.COM. We’re aiming at launching a Canadian BLKDMNDS company and I’m assisting in spearheading that project. They’re actually great and it’s nice to be able to work with folks that mirror my work ethic. Being a creative spirit, it’s always been difficult to pinpoint where I ‘fit.’ I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just don’t. People find ways of fitting me into their world and I prefer it that way because I run my world the way I want to. Ultimately, I’m just working and doing things that make me smile everyday. Maybe I’ll dabble back in some acting but for right now, I’m just open and happier than I’ve ever been. Who knows…maybe you’ll see me break out with a few husbands and some kids. Wouldn’t that be some shit? Yeah, maybe.
Read Part 1 of Tika’s interview here
Interview by Sandra Stanisa | Words by Mehek Seyid