Fiery Femcee Wants the World's Attention
2:00PM ET June 1st, 2011
Contributor : Malcolm Strong
A Rocky Williform Company
Michael Gadiva has presence. Her striking features and undeniable charisma demand and command attention, but when the chocolate-hued femcee opens her mouth to spit a verse, you realize she's more than another pretty face looking to become hip hop's next sex symbol. The artist from Atlanta-by-way-of-Philadelphia has a vision, a tireless work ethic and she's ready for her close-up.
Michael Gadiva is a star. Michael Gadiva is an artist.
Oh, and she has a sexually-ambiguous name that is always a bit of a conversation-starter.
How did you come up with the name?
My brother came up with the name. My middle name is Michael. My government name is Tiffany. He took my middle name and Gadiva, like the chocolate, because of my skin tone. It just fit and flowed. It just all fit. I like it! The name gets a lot of attention. If they don't know me, they look at 'Michael Gadiva' and are like 'is she a guy?' [laughs] They don't know what to expect. You don't know exactly what you're going to get. Which I love.
Do you view yourself as a rapper first? Or a singer?
I'm a rapper. I'm a songwriter. I'm all of that fused into one. Primarily, everybody knows me as an emcee. I have love for singing and I know how to sing, but I'm not a singer. I do hip hop, R&B and pop. Of course, I never know where it may go.
Early on, you rapped exclusively. When did you decide to incorporate more singing into your sound?
I've always been able to rap, [but] I've had time to develop into a singer. I've had vocal coaches and I still have one, but in the time that I didn't have vocal coaches, I taught myself how to sing. I became comfortable singing records that i liked. the more i sang them, the better my voice got.
Your stage show is very theatrical, how would you describe your persona?
My persona gives you bigger than life. No matter if I'm performing on a grand opera stage or on a cardboard box, it gives you bigger than life. I'm actually quiet and meek in my own home, but when I'm on stage I'm 'Michael Gadiva;' and when I'm home, I'm 'Tiffany.' The two are a part of me, all of that is within me--but they don't get that side of me when I'm out.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned thus far about the business?
It's literally a game that you have to play. Only certain players get to that national stage. I've been in this industry ten-plus years, but I have yet to become a grand master at it. It's very difficult being an artist. Especially when everything is straight digital. No one sells albums. No one. People have made careers off of Twitter and Facebook. You can literally be a nobody yesterday and a superstar tomorrow off of one video, off of one song, off of one feature.
What's been the keys to keeping you motivated?
Being humble in this industry will take you so far. Its something about you for people to have to see in order for them to be convinced. You can make a statement without saying something. I have a God that I pray to each and every day and its keeping me so grounded and its kept me sane.
What's your greatest ambition?
I want to know what the public likes for me and what they don't like from me. What they want more of and what they want less of. And I will be doing theater in September. But I'm definitely focused on nothing but perfecting my craft all around. All the time.
Follow Michael Gadiva at Twitter.com/only1gadiva