Vancouver-born and self-proclaimed “fetish rapper” Tommy Genesis has carved herself a unique niche in the underground music scene. Coming from a visual arts background, she began making off-kilter tracks with hyper sexual verses that caught the eye of the DIY Atlanta-based music collective Awful Records. With a co-sign from the collective’s founder and rapper Father, her first complete body of work World Vision was released independently in 2015. For 2017, Genesis starts the year by signing with Downtown Records/Interscope.
As a rapper, Genesis understands the appeal of aggressive lyrics and experimental sounds that make her music the “dark happy place” that she describes. As a model, she’s not afraid to interpret the way she presents her striking image to the world — which includes a penchant for pleated miniskirts and cropped, oversized metal band tees.
It’s a personal style the fashion world has noticed. Calvin Klein recruited Genesis for their Fall 2016 campaign amongst other style-savvy musicians like Young Thug and Zoe Kravitz. She also models grunge-inspired pieces for emerging designer Left Hand LA (Julie Kucharski) whom Genesis is very close to.
“[Julie] and I just clicked, and now she’s one of my closest friends,” Genesis tells Billboard. “We’re the type to grow old together.” Kucharski’s brand is one of the rapper’s favorites along with New York-based brand Hood By Air, Alyx Studio by Kanye West’s DONDA affiliate Matthew Williams, and old Christian Dior.
With her style, Genesis explores the line between masculine and feminine, comfortable and confrontational. The weird, subversive depths of the internet as well as Japanese culture — Genesis names the manga series Uzumaki and British comic Tank Girl and as her favorites — influence her style.
“We all have comfort zones — mine are just a bit opened up,” Genesis says. “Your sexuality belongs to you. Whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin, that’s how you should live. Not by society’s preconceived notions. Those are fake structures.”
This mix of strength and sensuality is also evident in the World Vision single “Execute” video where she raps in military-influenced colors, rugged cuts, and her signature cropped look paired with bulky Timberland boots. “To feel powerful, you dress powerful which incites power from within,” Genesis says. “But I could have just as easily been naked [in the video]. It was more about what I said than what I looked like saying it.”
As Genesis cultivates her vision, she’s gotten the opportunity to transition from the DIY culture of her Awful Records clique onto a larger platform with a recent signing to Downtown/Interscope Records. “They came at me with so much love, it was a genuine connection,” she says of the signing. “I played them [my unreleased album World Vision 2] and by the way they reacted, I knew they would help me raise these weird, patched-up kids I made.”
Downtown Records Chairman/CEO Josh Deutsch is just as excited to work with the multi-hyphenate talent. “Tommy is that rare artist with a singular vision that is truly genre-defying — a vanguard at the intersection of broad musical movements. A true triple threat, she is equal parts musician, thought leader and fashion icon,” Deutsch told Billboard. “I am thrilled to welcome Tommy Genesis to Downtown Records.”
Though her career is moving in a new direction, she cherishes her roots. “It’s important that people know how much Awful means to me,” Genesis says. “Having [Father] and the rest of Awful support me makes me who I am today — it’s a family, and that’s not something you transition out of.”