Toronto artist puts forth messages of self-love, equality

Unlike other rap artists, Xolisa (pronounced “Koh-Lee-Sah”) Renee Jerome chooses not to feature any guest appearances on her latest EP. The reason for this, says the multifaceted Toronto-based artist, is she wanted to focus on establishing her voice and style as a relative newcomer in the music scene.

Xolisa released two EPs during her first three years in music including, A Beautiful Mind, and more recently, Rhyme Until My Spirit Needs No Words To Fly.

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“For those two projects, I was just in that zone of wanting to execute everything that I wanted to within my mind, my heart and spirit,” Xolisa says. “I’d have to push myself out there and make sure that my sounds, my style, the way that I perform, everything is really just unique to me, and that I’m staying in my own lane.”

Xolisa’s music is unapologetic and old school – she admits that when she came out she wanted to sound like Q-Tip citing A Tribe Called Quest as one of her major inspirations.

On her EP, Rhyme Until My Spirit Needs No Words To Fly, Xolisa covers themes of self-love and equality and demonstrates that she is unafraid to face personal issues, especially on the track, “A Longer Walk”, where she rhymes, “Sometimes we look expectin’ to define / Sometimes we find what we are searchin’ only to deny.”

“I know that my stuff has always had like a political underlining or undertone to it, so messages of accepting yourself like being strong as a Black woman, just being a woman in general,” Xolisa shares. “Don’t be afraid to look within. Don’t be afraid to say what it is you have to say.”

“It’s like an organic vibe because she always makes you feel like you’re sitting down in her living room.” – Jemelle Williams

Urban Evolution Enterprise founder, Jemelle Williams, who Xolisa has been working with since the beginning of her career, says she is someone to watch out for; he calls her “a people’s performer.”

“It’s like an organic vibe because she always makes you feel like you’re sitting down in her living room,” Williams says. “It’s never like, I can’t touch the artist. And she loves to come engage with you and people that listen to her, that vibe to her, even if it’s the first time listening to her, it’s like, ‘Wow, I really dig this.’”

Xolisa plans to release her first full-length album next year, and hopes to promote it with a tour. Its focus will be on what’s happening in the community, the city and around the world.

“There will be more risks, more risks in my production, more risks in my lyricism and my delivery,” Xolisa says. “I want to try new things; I want to push myself as a writer, push myself in the way that I rap, just try new things with my production.”

Photos By. Chantal Rose © Urbanology Magazine