equality factor: self-empowered ambassador for uniqueness
last release: "Trends"
music heroins: herself
based in: Berlin / Beverly Hills
As a female artist in the rap industry, your mere existence is a political statement. Our artist of the week, Munich-born rapper Toffee has had to prove her skills to sceptical male producers many times. However, even firsthand accounts of bigotry in Germany, sexism, and injustice in the music industry cannot hold her back: with her mindset and music, she’s on her way to the top now, all the while empowering equality through her work and social media platform.
Toffee – pronounced like “trophy” – was born in 1996 in the city of Munich in Germany. At the age of six or seven, she started listening to hip-hop music, unknowingly beginning to pave the way for what would later turn into her rap career. In conservative Bavaria, she did not always feel comfortable as a woman of color. “I really hated being different in Germany. People question your background, people touch your hair without you giving them permission – that really made me think.” Whenever she felt isolated due to being different, Toffee turned to music. Listening to an artist whose lyrics she could relate to never failed to make her feel understood.
“Music gives you emotional support. When you’re really going through something, you’re really sad, and that music is just there for you, even if you don’t have a person there.”
It was around March 2018, right before Toffee’s 22nd birthday, that she decided to take a leap of faith and move to the USA, leaving behind her law studies and a sense of not fitting in. She moved to Atlanta, New York, and Beverly Hills, meeting influential people of the music industry, but not yet brave enough to fully dedicate herself to the dream that had manifested itself over the past years: she wanted to be a rapper. For years, Toffee had been silently collecting lyrics and entire song verses in her notes. She considered writing rhymes in her mother tongue, German, as opposed to rapping in the language of the music she listened to most of the time, English. One year after taking the first big step towards her goal, on her 23rd birthday in 2019, Toffee decided to turn her passion for music into a dedication.
“It was my birthday, at the end of March, and I always get anxiety just before my birthday. I mean I’m still young, but as you get older – what do you do with the rest of your life? Another whole year just passed by and what did you achieve? I wanted to rap. Why don’t I just do it? JUST DO IT!”
With an artist name given to her by a former co-worker at a restaurant in Munich, the Toffifee-loving Toffee fully dedicated herself to building up a career from that point on. Her debut single “Drama” was released in the summer of 2019, quickly being featured to prominent playlists of female rap. Radio hosts reviewed her work and applauded her for being different, for her unique German accent and sophisticated lyrics. In the US, Toffee first began to see her mixed roots and diverse background as something positive: “Being different in Germany was something negative, and something people questioned. Oversees, in the US, people love that you are different, that you are unique.”
“I inspire myself. I’m the first me – there’s no other person like me. I am unique. I don’t want to sound similar to anyone else”.
In the pursuit of her goal of signing with a major label and touring for her fans, the grind never stops for Toffee. Whenever a lyric pops into her head, she writes it down to revisit it when the right time comes. “Sometimes I just go through all my lyric notes, and it’s a lot – I could probably write 10 songs from those”, she explains. Most likely though, only the best of her endless notes will make it into a released song. Toffee is a perfectionist. She only goes to the studio when she has an exact plan of what she wants, and only works with beats she is fully convinced of – because when your brand is authentic, every release has to be one hundred per cent representative of who you are.
“All my songs are my favorites. I love them all the same because I only publish and do stuff that I am 100% confident with.”
Despite her now strengthened confidence and relentless dedication to the pursuit of her dreams, Toffee acknowledged quickly that being a female in the rap industry makes for an extra obstacle to overcome. She had to prove her skills and convince male producers, A&R, and managers more than male counterparts had. “I think that as a female rapper and artist, you have more obstacles that you have to overcome obviously. But unfortunately, there are some male rappers that have to face those obstacles, too. There are some crazy people out there working in the music industry.”
On top of facing disadvantages within the music industry due to her gender, Toffee also points out that female rappers are treated differently by music fans and the media. Possibly due to the genre being a ‘man’s world’ for the longest time, top-selling hip-hop artists are constantly pitted against each other and compared to one another. For instance, when Cardi B rose to the top of the charts in 2018, the media and fans fueled a toxic cycle of competitiveness and rivalry between two artists who could have been lifting each other up instead. While it seems like things are slowly starting to change with more and more female rappers emerging, Toffee’s key mantra for achieving her career goals is to not compare herself to other women in hip-hop.
“I don’t want to compare myself. It’s like a marathon – everyone is jogging for themselves at their own speed. Especially with female rappers, people out there wanna see beef, they don’t want to see us together. I caught myself comparing myself. But while you’re looking to the left and right, you just trip and fall.”
While staying in her own lane and focusing on her own goal, Toffee still wishes for more female representation in the industry. Several times, she has worked with men that do not emphasize the female perspective or even try to take advantage of their position – yes, we mean male producers offering career support in exchange for sexual favors. In retrospect, she wishes and advises other females with the same goals to trust their intuition and double-check who they are working with: “Listen to your feelings”, Toffee recommends. “I think it would be different to work with women. But I can only assume. Unfortunately, there are so many males in the industry, and some of them might just abuse their position to take advantage of you. Which I think would not happen if you work with women. Most likely, that would be men.”, she explains to us.
Having faced sexism and bigotry throughout her career and private life, Toffee aims to use her voice and platform to fight for equality. She knows that not only women but also LGBTIQ+ people suffer from the omnipresent patriarchy of the rap industry, so she has dedicated herself to the empowerment of equality, beyond skin color, sexual orientation, and gender. With confidence and an unapologetically outspoken demeanor, Toffee wants to raise awareness of the toxic practices of the music industry.
“Shouldn’t music be a place where we’re all equal? We all have the same goal and vision, no matter your gender and sexual orientation. Everyone can be themselves, and I don’t care what your sexual orientation is, your gender, your age, anything – everyone can feel comfortable with my music.”
Toffee’s favorite lyric of herself is the first line of the chorus to Drama: “I’m on my way to the top now, everybody doing what they can to see me stop now”. Her music is not just a celebration of herself, accepting and being proud to be different. By empowering herself, this 24-year-old rapper from Munich sets an example for those who do not fit in, encouraging them to make up their own path and find their voice through their uniqueness. She reminds us that music should be about equality and enjoyment for all.