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‘Show Me State’ native, Bates, has been setting booths on fire and blazing stages since she started her music career. Two groups and almost ten projects later, people are finally starting to give her the recognition she deserves.
Fresh outta high school, Bates and a few other hot spitters known for their lyricism started a raw, cutting-edge group named Xplicit. Quickly, the people on the receiving end began to praise Bates for her rough, raspy and touching flow and delivery. She stuck out like a sore thumb - but what else should be expected from an unrepentant bar queen in the age of eroticism in female hip-hop? Soon, Bates’ edgy demeanor and nonconformist attitude would give her the extra edge needed to gain respect in a male-dominated and often misogynistic hip-hop industry.
By 2006, the group had completely dismantled. Bates began to brand herself as a solo artist by releasing the Normaggedon Mixtape (2006). This was before social media, of course, but it allowed Bates to learn certain tactics that are necessary to survive the metamorphosis hip-hop would undergo for the next decade.
Collaborative projects like Lethal Legends (2007) and City Art (2010) allowed Bates to broaden her audience by tapping into the rap-rock fusion sound, while still keeping the streets happy to have her. Her next solo project, the Normageddon (2011) album was praised for it’s lyrical content and realism. Her following project, Wonderful Mixtape (2012) was a creative and honest testimony that gave the listeners the total package from start to finish.
The pivot in Bates’ career occurred when she me R&B singer, Notes, who introduced her to T.R.U.E., an indie producer who was also striving to establish his own record label. Soon after, Bates joined STL’s super-charged group, H.A.R.D Asylum. Together, the group released Tha Front (2012) and followed it with Tha Committed (2014) - a double-disc of bold and beautiful bars packed with aggression, cockiness and struggle.
The group became popular almost as fast as it lost wind. Life matters sent members in different directions, leaving Bates rebranding herself for another solo career. At the start of 2015, she was awarded ‘Best Female Hip-Hop Artist’ in the St. Louis Underground Music Awards and was featured in many STL publications. She followed her success with The Great DeBates (2015), a subject-by-subject mixtape that addressed everything from the commercialization of hip-hop radio stations, to the shooting death of Mike Brown at the hands of the Ferguson police.
That following Fall, Bates made another powermove. She released “Tell Jesus,” a video with great direction, raw emotion, six vocalists and TRUE On Tha TRAC on the beat. The video became an STL underground staple.
At the turn of the year, Bates was awarded ‘Best Video’ for “Tell Jesus,” ‘Best Female Hip-Hop Artist’ for the second time and became the first woman to take home ‘Artist of the Year’ in the history of the Slumfest Awards. This sent Bates on a creative frenzy, making sure her next project would wow her fans.
Summer 2016 Bates released For Colored Folk. The project took the city by storm. Every local paper and magazine covered the project before and after its release.
“For Colored Folk is a navigation through spiritual, social and political minefields — a crossroads of intersectional issues that she attacks head-on while aiming straight for the gut. Throughout its fifteen cuts, Bates never meets the audience halfway. Not a single track comes sugar-coated, and she spits with a brash vibe that respects the time and intelligence of her peers and fans alike.” - Riverfront Times
For Colored Folk went on to win 'Album of the Year' in the 2017 Slumfest Music Awards. The project also topped ULSTN Radio’s best projects above some serious competition. Everything from the packaging to the production raised the bar for St. Louis rappers.
Bates’ latest single, “Whole Thing,” is Bates re-invented. After two socially conscious projects, the queen of the underground found a need to lighten the mood and further challenge her listeners and her competition. Whenever Bates feels like she’s in a box, she goes the length to get far away from its confines. Her unpredictability was made clear with new sound, new energy. “”Whole Thing” is probably my first real club cut with commercial appeal,” Bates said.
Strange Woman has quickly become one of the most replayed, no-skip albums of the decade. Hiphop Dx called it the best album they've heard in the last five years after they made Bates the first indie artist from St. Louis to be premiered on their wide-reaching platform. Many other music critics and bloggers have nothing but great things to say about the project. It's filled with bold, fearless and festive bars while Bates lyrically dances all over beats from TRUE On Tha TRAC, Muzic Boy, Groundbreaking Beatz and a few other hip-hop heavy-hitters. Almost in total contrast to For Colored Folk, Bates proves how much of an unpredictable, unrestricted Strange Woman she is.