New Haven native producing original hip-hop hits, bringing feminism to genre

Black History Month

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A rising star from Connecticut is making waves in the world of hip-hop, which is deeply rooted in blues and jazz music.

Akua Naru is changing the game in rap- a music form that’s been dominated by men over the years.

With a sound all her own, Akua Naru is fast becoming a major force in the rap world. Her style is a different take of rap, away from the violence and misogyny often associated with the genre.

“Enough is enough. Now is a time to move forward and appreciate thinking in new ways,” Naru said. “My music, some would call it ‘progressive Black feminist hip-hop.’ It relies heavily on jazz and soul. I produced my last three albums, no samples; all original live music.”

Naru grew up in New Haven, near Hillhouse High School. As a child, she loved to write poems, and that was just the beginning of what would become a future career in the recording industry.

“My family thought it was the cutest thing…”

Her own life experiences are often a part of her musical message.

“There’s a distance between what I experienced at home, which is love, acknowledgment, and support as a young Black girl, and what you experience out in the world,” Naru said.

Extremely well educated with degrees from Rutgers and Penn, Naru is now working with scholars at Harvard, chronicling the contributions women have made in hip hop.

“I would like to be part of this movement that changes the way that we think about women and girls in hip-hop,” Naru said.

Naru has already worked with some major stars, including Eric Benet. She’s also enjoyed a great deal of her success in Europe, where’s she has lived for more than a decade.

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