“Whatchu doin’ for the squad and the coalition?” pineappleCITI’s thoughts on music, spirituality and expression
One of TIDAL’s Rising Hip-Hop cover artists this year and featured on NBA2K20 and Netflix’s Sneakerheads, artist pineappleCITI is equal parts rapper, singer and acclaimed songwriter. With a poetic lyricism and melodic voice, pineappleCITI uses her music to liberate herself from the external oppression she has had to navigate as a self identified Black and gay woman.
Named one of Okayplayer’s 25 Underrated Female Rappers, she has penned works for Twista and Kelly Rowland. In the same year, she celebrated the release of her viral hit “Rose Colored” and suffered a near-fatal car crash, causing her to learn how to walk again over the course of two years. As a way of conquering her own narrative, pineappleCITI recreates her 2016 car crash and demonstrates her healing process in her song “Recognize.”
With a focus on songs that feature motivational lyricism and powerful messages, she has released a number of recent singles including “Believe,” and “Lift Me Up,” the latter of which was dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement and victims of police brutality. She has also just released a music video for her single “Balance” and released her new single, “Dance,” which you should make sure to stream as her flow will send you off to a feel-good place.
Galore: In what ways is music a means for practicing your spirituality?
pineappleCITI: Music is my connection with source. When I write it feels like I’m channeling something. Sometimes I look back on my lyrics and find gems as if I didn’t write it myself. That’s how I know I’m a part of something bigger than me.
Galore: How did the quarantine period impact you as an artist?
pineappleCITI: Honestly, it wound up being a blessing in disguise for my spiritual growth. I believe I’m making some of the best music I ever have as a result. I think we all had to learn how to pivot. This pandemic affected creatives and entrepreneurs the most but they don’t call us creatives for nothing. We’re going to dig deep and pull out something beautiful. It’s in our nature.
Galore: How has the resurgence of protesting for Black Lives Matter influenced your work, if at all?
pineappleCITI: I’ve been writing from a more authentic place. Times like these have encouraged me to write more food for the soul. Songs like “Lift Me Up (Acoustic)” tell my sentiments exactly. As horrendous as these past couple months have been what we are all yearning for is something we can feel. I’m grateful to be in the space that I’m in musically. It’s important for me to stand up for what I believe in on and off record.
Galore: How do identity politics and intersectionality intersect with your artistic practice?
pineappleCITI: My music is an expression of me. It would be hard to separate me from my lyrics. I write music about different aspects of my life because humans are multifaceted. And I leave nothing to apologize for. There’s so many things that divide us. Music is something that brings us all together. I speak from my own unique point of view and it’s a blessing that so many people can relate to that – regardless of race, sexuality, creed or gender. I don’t want to use these labels (black or gay woman) as the forefront of what I am, I want my music to inspire people; whoever that person is.
Galore: In what ways is it important to break away from the binaries of oppression and liberation? In what ways does your work seek to break from these binaries?
pineappleCITI: I’ve experienced oppression my entire life from different vantage points – being gay, and especially being black! Making music is my liberation. The use of free speech is a necessary aspect of who I am. I’m liberating myself by just expressing myself. The most powerful thing in the world you can be is yourself.
Galore: Why is representation important?
pineappleCITI: You never know who you’ll inspire. To see someone you can relate to achieve any type of success gives you hope for your own success – no matter how you relate. For example, Seeing Lauryn Hill be so successful not only inspired me as a black woman, but as a lyricist, a singer, and a native of Newark, NJ. I wouldn’t be who I am without that representation; same goes for Queen Latifah. Representation gives the next generation confidence they need to become what God called them to be.
And it’s not just about looking like someone, I find that Drake represents me too, he was making music were he sang and rapped during a time that was not popular. Think back to 2009 Drake; we grew up with Drake. He was able to express himself in whatever way he wanted and he made it cool. I feel represented by Drake’s form of expression.
Galore: Apart from music, what other projects are you working on, or are hoping to manifest /put into fruition?
pineappleCITI: I’m working on writing a book and I’d love direct music videos for other artists in the near future.
Galore: Are you willing to collaborate with up and coming artists that do not have the tools, or wisdom for entering the music industry?
pineappleCITI: Of course! I wouldn’t be here without the people who lended a hand, a tip, or mentorship in any capacity. One conversation could change your outlook and a simple session can change your life.