Artist Spotlight: Leggy

By B.C.

Leggy is a dreamy surf rock/lush punk trio from Cincinnati, Ohio, all about friendship, chill vibes and inclusive ‘posi’ rock ‘n’ roll with a little party sprinkled in. They are currently on tour in the UK with legendary all-female Japanese pop punk group Shonen Knife, whose 90s alt prowess is in the same ranks as Nirvana, The Ramones and Sonic Youth. Leggy is on the rise too, having been featured in publications such as Noisey and Stereogum, and quickly gaining a fan base far beyond its home circles. We spoke with the members while they are on tour: Continue reading “Artist Spotlight: Leggy”


Project Spotlight: Pass Her the Mic

We sat down with Mackenzie Collins and Georgina Ustik, the brains behind #PassHerTheMic, a project dedicated to showcasing, amplifying, and celebrating awesome female MCs, rappers, hip-hop artists, and more. It’s good to remember that “you don’t need a P to be a G.”



1) What is your project called, and what are you hoping to accomplish?

Our project is called Pass Her The Mic. Pass Her The Mic is a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that seeks to raise the visibility of women in hip-hop and rap. Each week, we feature an up-and-coming rap artist, and throughout the week post their music, album reviews and interviews. We also have created a blog ( that is meant to be a space for critical and intersectional feminist discourse surrounding women and hip-hop. We’re still in the beginning stages right now, but we’ll soon be posting music reviews, artist interviews, playlists and opinion pieces.

We want Pass Her The Mic to become a vehicle for female artists to gain more visibility. Media representations of women affect how we and others view our own abilities. If there are more female rap artists visible, young aspiring female artists will feel more capable in pursuing their aspirations. Through an increase in feminist discourse, we hope to change the music industry’s and public’s attitudes towards female rappers as something less objectifying and restrictive.


2) What was the inspiration behind Pass Her the Mic?


We created Pass Her the Mic because we both love to listen to hip-hop and rap, but we couldn’t help but notice the serious lack of female rappers. Actually, it’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that they are being funneled out by the music industry. In the late 80s and early 90s, there were over 40 female rappers signed to major labels. In 2010, there were only 3. So many female rappers are being ignored, because they aren’t viewed as viable business opportunities as much as their male peers.

Rap has the potential to be an extremely empowering platform to women. It began as a reaction to oppression, and remains a platform to express frustration. But, right now, rap is a one-sided conversation. There are so many men creating amazing music and getting appropriate attention for it, but we want to hear more from female rappers.

When we looked for music blogs or resources online dedicated to female rappers, we found nothing. So, we decided to create it! But, we want this to be more than just a resource for people looking for amazing female rappers. We want our site to be a space for conversation and interaction.


3) What is it about hip-hop as a genre / artistic field that particularly drew you in?


Hip-hop began as a reaction to racial oppression, and remains one of our favorite forms of expression largely because of its total dependence on the meanings of words. The voice is the most crucial and only necessary instrument. How often do we actually listen to lyrics anymore in other genres? Rap is spoken word, expression of reality. It is, in our opinion, the most socially and politically significant genre. It’s also such a creative field now, so many artists are changing the genre, and creating very self-aware music in the face of the commodification and appropriation of black culture.


4) Did you grow up listening to female rap and hip-hop artists? Are there any that had a particularly strong influence on you, and why/why not?


Georgina: For me, I didn’t get into hip-hop until pretty late in life. I adore Nicki Minaj, but the female rapper that influenced me the most would have to be Lauryn Hill. Besides for her amazing skill, husky voice and eloquence, I also just remember being really inspired by the way that she was clearly such an equal in The Fugees. She killed each song with her verses. There was something powerful in each song she was in. Also, Miseducation is an undeniably killer album, probably my most-listened to.


Mackenzie: She stole mine, but I think one of the first female hip-hop and rap artists I listened to was Missy Elliot. I remember watching her music videos on MTV and trying to dance along all throughout childhood! I still believe that she is one of the most well-rounded artists of all time- –singer, rapper, songwriter, performer, producer! Even though she was dismissed early on from the male-centric world of hip-hop for her appearance, she clearly did not let the patriarchy stop her and therefore was crucial in transcending hip-hop’s ideas around women. She is a hip-hop icon! ALL HAIL, QUEEN MISSY!!!


5) How do you discover the artists that you feature? Any tips for readers looking to get into and support female hip-hop and rap artists more?


We’ve discovered many through social media! Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud especially. We’ve also found a lot through doing more research into female artists featured on some of our favorite songs by male artists. Noname Gypsy’s verse on “Lost” was one of our favorite parts of Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap. We also found that once we told people about our project, so many people reached out with suggestions. It takes us a little bit of time to research, but that’s what we’re trying to fix!

Our first and most important tip would be to follow #PassHerTheMic (; We really are trying to make finding and listening to female hip-hop and rap artists easy, and the artists we feature are pretty incredible. We’re trying to be a resource for everyone just looking for good new music!

Another tip is to reach out to up-and-coming and amateur artists, listen to their music, share it, go to their shows. BUY their music. We want to build a supportive network for young artists, but just sharing their music on our social media isn’t enough. Be active about your support, always be thinking critically, and start discussion!


6) Where can we find your project, and how do you envision your project’s future?

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: #PassHerTheMic. You can also find us on Squarespace:

We envision our blog developing into a more developed resource for artist bios and interviews, and for Pass Her The Mic to become a voice that speaks out for, and supports, talented women. We are looking to build up a network of writers who want to engage in thoughtful discussion. We hope to steadily increase our social media following, because that’s where we see the artists we’re featuring getting the most visibility. Basically, we see the future of our project as becoming a bigger version of what it is now – we really want more contributors so we aren’t the only ones talking! We really love debate and discussion, so we want lots of opinions – if you’re reading this and have an opinion, reach out to us about writing!

We also hope that in the future we have more interactions with the artists themselves. We have a few exciting things in the works for content, so stay tuned!





Project Spotlight: Driven Media

Today, we present our spotlight on a great journalism project: Driven Media. “Driven Media is a journalism startup that aims to help young women understand their lives and potential. We do this through multimedia stories about the lives, relationships and stories of real women. As young women, we really felt that gap and lack of representation of women in the media. When you are looking for inspiration and hope and just a good story that you can relate to, it just isn’t there. We wanted to change that, and felt like we had the skill set to, so we did.”


Acro: First, please introduce yourselves.

I’m Samantha Harrington. I’m 22, originally from Wisconsin and I graduated with degrees in Journalism and Arabic from UNC in May 2015. I like sunflowers and Joan Didion and tea and good music and friends and talking and painting (in no particular order haha).


I’m Hannah Doksansky, a 21-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, who will graduate in the spring from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I drink coffee by the gallon, spend many hours catching up on the phone with friends, and take the occasional photo to document everything.


Acro: Give us an intro to your project. What is it called, what do you do, and what was the inspiration for getting started?


Driven Media is a journalism startup that aims to help young women understand their lives and potential. We do this through multimedia stories about the lives, relationships and stories of real women. As young women, we really felt that gap and lack of representation of women in the media. When you are looking for inspiration and hope and just a good story that you can relate to, it just isn’t there. We wanted to change that, and felt like we had the skill set to, so we did. –sam


Our team consists of Sam and I, who rove down the east coast in a tiny green prius, and two women named Josie and Hrisanthi who create multimedia interactives for each story while also working full time at newspapers. We all met at an entrepreneurial journalism lab at UNC and knew from group projects that our skill sets could be combined to create better storytelling. (HD)


Acro: What are you hoping to achieve through Driven Media? Is there something about storytelling (and, in particular, mobile storytelling!) as a medium that’s particularly useful for achieving your goals?


I think we’re trying to achieve a world in which women can share stories and learn from one another. We’re just trying to be the platform that facilitates that learning. You can connect to anyone online that has access to internet. It lets us transcend physical and geographic space and limitations in an awesome way. And obviously mobile is super important. Our target audience is young women. Young people get a lot of their information on their phones (I know I do). So every story we do we want to make sure looks good on mobile. Surprisingly our analytics show that still like 70% of people are getting to our content on desktops, but I expect mobile will become a bigger and bigger thing for us. –sam


Acro: What is your method? How do you go about finding subjects and collecting stories?


We basically show up in a place and call everyone and anyone we can. We’re focusing on a series of stories this fall about immigration while traveling down the east coast. So that means we’re in a new place every two weeks and really have to start the discovery process all over again. Generally we start with organizations—cultural associations, resettlement agencies, restaurants, etc—but sometimes we turn to social media to find people. In West Virginia I searched Twitter for people who had tweeted, “West Virginia and Filipino,” and just tweeted back at them. It looked pretty desperate responding to like 3-year-old tweets, but almost everyone responded.  Once we’ve found people to talk to we do some like exploratory interviews to figure out what the story is. Then once we’re at that point we try to figure out the best way to tell it. Should this be an audio piece? Or is video or text better? Things like that. –sam


Acro: What are the particular challenges of your project, if any?


Oh, do we encounter challenges. Our biggest challenge is always money. We crowdfunded $50,000 to launch the company in August, which enabled us to make necessary investments like equipment and a car. But we know that Driven cannot continue to exist without a viable business model. We brainstorm often new ways to make money to sustain future tours. (HD)

Another challenge worth noting is that we are always on tour. Sam and I work very hard to make sure we maintain a balanced lifestyle because we can easily slip into a pattern where we work constantly. We try to see every place that we visit and explore a little bit. We found that our stories are better when we take a moment to breathe every once and awhile! (HD)


Acro: Where is the project going from here? Do you have plans to broaden it, and/or are you in the process of collecting more stories? What’s your vision for the project in the future?


We are releasing stories weekly but our fall tour will come to a close in December. In the spring, we are going to take a break so that I can graduate college and we can focus on the viability of the company. We are exploring many revenue models so that we can hit the road again in the summer. This fall we have told the stories of immigrant women in five cities, but we will most likely switch to a new, yet to be determined theme for future tours. Reach out if you have ideas for new topics! (HD)


Acro: What do you think it would take for women, and especially women of color, to have more meaningful representation in journalism and news media?


So I think the biggest way is just by getting more women (of all backgrounds) involved in producing media. It’s really hard because I feel like so much of media success is just being in the right place at the right time. But at the same time I also believe that just working hard and talking to everyone opens so many doors. If you have an idea, the worst thing you can do is keep it to yourself. Shout it out to mentors and friends and strangers alike. Ask them to introduce you to anyone who they think might be interested in what you want to do. You never know who you’ll meet and where they’ll lead you. And once you’re in a place where you’re producing content and you have an audience you have to continue to be firm and loud about what you want. Challenge traditional concepts of what kind of stories are important and how they should be told. –sam







Organization Spotlight: Girls Rock Camp ATL!

Volunteers welcome campers to GRCATL 2015 | Photo courtesy of Girls Rock Camp ATL
Volunteers welcome campers to GRCATL 2015 | Photo courtesy of Girls Rock Camp ATL

I am beyond excited to present this spotlight on an all-around amazing feminist nonprofit organization, Girls Rock Camp! Their work in several cities, including Atlanta, is a perfect example of the positive impact that occurs when empowerment, education, and opportunity go hand in hand. I had the privilege of attending the end-of-camp concert for this past year’s Girls Rock Camp in Atlanta. The energy and excitement made the walls vibrate, and the performances by these young stars-in-the-making were beyond inspiring. It was invigorating seeing so many families and community members (enough to fill the theater and more) come together to celebrate this camp’s efforts toward music education, girls’ empowerment, and of course, ROCK!

Photos courtesy of Girls Rock Camp ATL
Photos courtesy of Girls Rock Camp ATL

I spoke with co-founder/director Stacey Singer about Girls Rock Camp and its mission. Check it out below! Continue reading “Organization Spotlight: Girls Rock Camp ATL!”

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