One of the newer faces flying the flag for the rap scene in Galway, on Ireland’s west coast, rapper Melanin Tee is determined to become one of the city’s brightest stars. “I feel like it’s that year where my dreams are becoming reality,” Tee tells us, “I am coming for the crown. Queen status.” The rapper may only be in the infancy of her career, but she’s moving fast, and establishing herself as one of Ireland’s finest exports.
We speak with Tee just days ahead of the release of her debut EP, ‘Mixed Personalities’. “I’ve been performing in places around Ireland and just recently in London,” she says, speaking about the lead- up to the release. “I’m really proud of myself because the goal was to be consistent and focus on being Melanin Tee — and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.”
Back in 2020 — the same year Tee started to MC and write music — she made her debut with collaborative track, ‘Intimidation’, alongside fellow Galway rapper Celaviedmai. Against an ice-cold drill beat, the two rappers showcased their dark feminine energy, with Tee’s bars shutting down men who flash for the “gram”. “I remember being so excited to release that,” she recalls, “but when it came closer to the time, I started freaking out and that’s when the thoughts of ‘how are people going to take this?’ started seeping in.
“I felt so vulnerable,” she continues. “I had to remind myself that it’s my work and the most important thing is that I like it. I can’t control how people will perceive it, or me! My job is to be a creative.”
A year later, Tee presented her debut solo single, ‘Who’s She?’, which showcased her distinctive flow with much of the same energy, described by HotPress as “an unapologetic and liberated anthem for women to call the shots and talk about exactly what they want”. “It’s one of my favourite songs to this day,” she says. “I did write music prior to that, but I never took it seriously until the beginning of the pandemic.”
Most of Tee’s inspiration comes from listening to a range of genres, namely Afrobeats, hip-hop, dancehall and drill. “Studying genres and seeing the process of how that music was created, along with discovering the amount of genre-bending sounds out there, made me want to participate,” she says.
“I had to remind myself that it’s my work and the most important thing is that I like it, I can’t control how people will perceive it, or me! My job is to be a creative.”
After the release of ‘Who’s She?’, Tee dropped two more singles: ‘Irish Girl Freestyle’, an ode to her heritage, and ‘Watch My Man’, another drill-fuelled anthem that brought powerful female energy, and came accompanied by visuals dripping in jewels, bikinis and a bubblegum-pink stripclub setting.
Spitting lyrics like “You wanna fuck the baddest B, so you’re onto me / He liking my energy, I’m his type but baby can you even handle me?” and “Slide in the DMs / Move confident cause I’m dominant, and won’t take no soft likkle boy believe it”, those releases, and the rest of Tee’s music to date, have showcased the darker side of her sound.
The ‘Mixed Personalities’ EP, which landed in mid-June, is the start of Tee’s next chapter. Despite spending much of the first part of the year performing and writing music, it’s also been a period of growth and self-development for Tee, and a turning point that has kickstarted new beginnings. “I’ve been getting to know myself a lot more, figuring out who I am, and dealing with past traumas and triggers, which I feel is an essential part of growth,” she affirms. “I believe that in order to be an artist, especially one that can influence others positively, you need to look within. I call it the self-healing journey... a journey that can be
hard at times, but one I would never exchange for anything.”
It makes sense, then, that the new project is a deeper look inside Tee after that period of self- reflection, offering new thematics and inspiration. “It’s all about me,” she says. “It gives people a little view into certain parts of me. My shady, cheeky side, my soft feminine side, my intellectual self- healing side, as well as my cute, funny side.” ‘Mixed Personalities’ is about exploring the truly human aspects of herself.
Live performance is another thing that Tee is excited about, and by the time you read this she’ll have celebrated the EP’s release with a performance in Waterford, Ireland. “After that, I’ll focus on having my own headline show,” she says. “I’ve been meaning to have one and I feel like the time has come and I am ready to just put on the most amazing show ever. I really want people to see how creative I can be, as I will put on a show that will blow your mind.”
As for what comes next? Tee manifests, “I am Melanin Tee, national and international superstar!” But she remains humble, self-aware and focused, living in the moment and creating her art in the now. “When I write music, I write from a place of who I am currently. My experiences definitely shape me, they help me grow and teach me that it’s okay to fall, but also to have the ability to get back up when I do. That makes me who I am.”