Speaking with No Shame
I recently got to speak with Hillie Drake, or as she is known in the battle rap world, No Shame. Her battle just dropped on Battle of the Zae YouTube channel Counter Productive. The battle was between her and Pat Stay, a King of the Dot regular. No Shame is an incredibly talented rapper who was pit against Pat Stay on one of battle raps larger platforms. BOTZ 9 was not only an amazing lineup but featured what some were calling a controversial battle between No Shame and Pat Stay. No Shame is the progressive genre bending rapper that no one expects, but everyone has to address. It's a difficult task to talk about because today's political climate dictates that one either be completely politically correct or be labeled some type of evil fascist. Considering how battle rap is not politically correct but a group of amazing people who have a lot of respect for each other, I'll speak to it the way it cuts to the point. No Shame is a transgendered rapper who faces the difficulties of rap culture, but even more so since battle rap directly engages in personal insults, comedy, breaking down the character/person of another and hurling these in entertaining rhythmic fashion. No Shame is a beacon of progressivism in a culture that clings to old ideals. This interview covers the battle, covers the person and talks about why any of this even matters. Without further ado, meet No Shame.
Gabriel Barrio-What got you into battle rap?
No Shame-I kinda always battle rapped, but my style now... I watched AHAT battles and thought I could do that.
GB-When was your first battle?
NS-Written or otherwise?
GB-Written. But you did freestyle battles too? Like scribble jam stuff?
NS-Written was Kidd K 2013. I was freestyle champ multiple times on 97.9 the beat and held the record for most wins.
GB-That's awesome. Who are some of your fav battlers?
NS-Pat, Danny Myers, Day, Rone.
GB-What events led up to the botz battle? How did you get approached for that?
NS-Pat wanted to battle me.
GB-How did that affect you so far? Any backlash from anyone regarding the battle?
NS-Nope and it won't be me who gets backslash if it happens.
GB-Do you feel that this battle is going to be something news outlets are going to cover?
NS-It might catch some internet buzz, probably go semi viral but I don’t expect to see a Dateline story.
GB-Do you feel like this pushes forward the dialog about trans acceptance in cultures that have a general disdain for anything outside of Heteronormativity?
NS-I hope it does, I hope 1 kid doesn’t get bullied. Has more courage.
GB-Do you feel that battle rap is more accepting than other cultures? For example the rap music industry? Film?
NS-No, I have seen a huge change since 2013 in battle rap. Film and TV are very welcoming to LGBT. I got a death threat after Michael White.
GB-So you feel it's moving in a positive direction? Do you feel battle rap is more welcoming than music? Can you explain for the readers of Scruff and Vigor what happened with Michael White, who he is and why there was a death threat?
NS-I have had gay battlers reach out and say I'm why they started to battle. So I say we getting there. Music might be more welcoming if you are not talking about hip-hop.... Michael White is a Texas battle rap league staple who I battled on AHAT it went semi viral. I was told if I entered certain cities I would be killed on site.
GB-Hip hop is definitely not considered the scene for acceptance or diversity. Why do you feel that is? Considering demographics of who buys and listens to the most hip hop? Did you talk to authorities or how do you handle threats like that?
NS-It's just the street culture that's involved. Nothing soft escapes in the streets so dudes are afraid to associate or rock with anything that isn’t 100 percent man. As far as the threats go we don’t talk to 12. I am still bound by the same codes I was before. People think Im soft because I am trans, you don't do what I do without a spine.
GB-Do you feel that there may be some hypocrisy in hip hop's homophobia? Also speaking of not talking to police, since you live in Texas do you carry? Concealed or open carry?
NS-I keep the ting(sic) on me but no open carry or permits just throw it in the glove box... I think people think I should act a certain way to justify my trans identity, but I am a dyke for sure. I always thought of hip-hop and heavy metal as kinda gay cultures that just don’t accept that they are that way.
GB-Is Texas a rough place to exist as trans? What about as a battle rapper? What does your family think of both?
NS-It’s both always hard being trans in Texas, and my family is 100 percent supportive of everything I do. But it's not always easy.
GB-Who inspired you to go your own path? You mentioned hip-hop being a gay culture. How would you define it as that?
NS-I just mean, as far as it being gay, I just meant it's a bunch of dudes who show love to other dudes, and hug every time they see each other. When my father died that woke me up. I needed to be myself, life is too short
GB-What is your opinion of Dave Chappelle after his last two comedy specials address the trans topic?
NS-He is funny as fuck. Misinformed, but funny as fuck. In order to think people should accept you, you have to accept them.
GB-Acceptance is a big part of trans existence. If someone were to not intentionally misidentify you and call you sir instead of ma'am, would that be offensive?
NS-I have been there so many times, I just let it go. I find it easier to change minds without directly challenging them.
GB-How far does the identity aspect go? Do doctors address you as the correct pronoun? Are government documents difficult to handle?
NS-My doctor I deal with has a trans friendly staff. My dentist doesn’t but, he is also my wife’s boss.
GB-What are the hardest obstacles you've had to overcome? What would you say to other people who struggle with basic civil rights?
NS-Just personal and family issues with my ex-wife. Keep your head up and, over time, the world has slowly become more civil and accepting so just hang in there.
GB-Lastly, who would you like to thank? Call out? When is your next battle? And what can we expect from no shame in the future?
NS-I really want to thank Dirtbag Dan. He has really given me lots of opportunity. Chedder Cheese can get the work. SXSW should be the next battle. More of the first round from Pat is what you will see from me. Got a couple tracks coming as well.
Keep an eye out for No Shame's battle on IBattleTv from SXSW, She will be battling Athena. You can keep up with NO SHAME on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to watch her latest battle on the youtube link below as well.