Merc The Big Body Benz, a Queens raptress, is taking the New York City underground rap scene by storm with her lyrically charged verses, powerfully delivered metaphors, tongue-twisting double entendres, smooth voice, and charming demeanor all while providing concertgoers with her original melodic swagger. She truly is a one-of-a-kind artist. Get an introduction to her in the exclusive interview below.
UHH: Tell me a bit about yourself
Merc The Big Body Benz: I'm the Big Body Goddess Emcee, born and raised in Queens. I'm a mother and wife before anything, my family is my biggest motivation in life. I been rhyming since I was ten years old. I know my power so I stand in it. There's so much beauty in being beastly.
When and how did you dub yourself Merc The Big Body Benz and what does the name mean to you?
Originally I went by the name Young Merc. Merc is just the short version of my real name, Mercedes. When I turned 21 I went through a mental and spiritual growth spurt of sorts and I felt a name change was for the best. Young Merc didn't quite capture how I felt about myself and you can only be young for so long. I'm Mercedes, I'm a big girl and I've always been The Big Body Benz in real life. It just made sense so I dropped the Young, kept the Merc and added The Big Body Benz. Mercedes "The Big Body Benz" Barnes... Sounds like a heavyweight champion and I am in my own right.
Who were your biggest influences as a songwriter?
Honestly, no one inspired me as a songwriter for the most part. The music has always been therapeutic for me. I really suffered from depression and anger growing up. I have been through a lot and music was always there, that's where it started. I've always looked inward when it was time to write. Going along with that I should say people's opinions have always taken a backseat to what my soul needed to purge in a song. But I will say that the way Biggie talked about himself on a joint, like all his differences were exactly what made him fly and attractive, that always stuck out to me and showed me early on that the smart thing to do was to embrace everything about me and show people they have no choice but to love me. So he inspired my songwriting in that sense.
Do you remember the first Hip-Hop record you heard and how it made you feel?
The first record I remember hearing and falling in love with Hip-Hop was " Warning" by Biggie. My mother had everything to do with it. Here was this little 5 foot nothing, Puerto Rican woman who all of a sudden had the crazy rapper hand gestures down pat, spitting every word of that joint. My mom is the Biggest Biggie fan ever so that sticks out to me first. I was like 5 and I just remember mimicking her movements, thinking I could be that smooth. Lol.
How long have you been pursuing music as a profession?
I've really been doing music for the majority of my life but I was in the streets, I was unfocused and then I got married and started a family before I ever decided to pursue my music career seriously. The past three years I've been working hard to balance life and work towards my career. I get nothing but love but it's not easy out here. Music is life though so this love affair is forever.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
I get so much love and respect from men. They're usually intrigued, scared of me or both. I'm a complete monster live and it's super intimidating. I know it and I don't care lol. I really believe in practicing and honing your craft and it translates. They tend to admire that. There's also nothing to compare me to. Who is this fat chick in a world of "Barbies and Bad Bitches" calling herself the Goddess Emcee, being super aggressive, controlled and sexual. It's hard to wrap your mind around until you feel my energy and you let me share myself with you through this music. Then it makes sense. Men go hard for me. The women always go harder though. As far as doing business goes it's always hard being a woman because so many men can't think past their physical desires and will overstep boundaries in the middle of something that could have ended up really great. Those are the worst ones. It's hard to know who wants to really be about business and who wants to sleep with you as a woman in this Industry. Even if you're crazy talented, the creeps will always outnumber the genuine in heart.
What do you believe you will offer the Hip-Hop game and what will Hip-Hop offer you?
I think what I bring back to Hip Hop is the sight of a real woman. I am your everyday woman, I deal with real issues like the rest of us and I address them from a standpoint that points at myself rather than anyone else. I am not afraid to be vulnerable, angry, sexual, aggressive, passionate, loving. I'm not afraid to celebrate and support my sisters. I'm not afraid to uplift our men and publicly appreciate our men. Hip Hop needs that. Women love Hip Hop and we really need our voice back. If you've ever seen me on stage you know nobody's shutting me up. As far as what Hip Hop can do for me, well as I said before without Hip Hop I wouldn't have an outlet for my internal struggles. Life really is it's own battle. Hip Hop is the ear that always listens so it has done so much for me already.
Where do you see the Hip-Hop game going in the next 5 years?
I'm going to be optimistic and say that within the next 5 years the gap between the older generations in Hip-Hop and the younger generation will find some common ground, understanding and mutual respect. I think that would make for better music, you know. If we take today's vibe and mix it with a powerful message like we use to, it'd be magic. Trap beats are fire but BARS should still be a requirement. No matter where Hip-Hop goes true lyricism should always be alive and well. If the young kids learn to give the respect the OGs deserve. If OGs learn to give the young kids a chance, while still guiding them so they never lose sight of the key elements that make Hip Hop, Hip Hop, we'll be alright. That's what I wanna see.
Tell me a bit about your debut album Femininity Womanized. What sets this project apart from the previous albums?
Femininity Weaponized is my baby. It’s an album about being a woman and celebrating all the different things that make women great. The beauty, the mystery, the flirtation, the freedom, the anger, the determination, the strength of a woman. It celebrates the power of love and meaningful relationships. It celebrates holding onto things worth fighting for while also having the ability to destroy whatever you deem worthy of being destroyed. This is so much different than my last project Belated Arrival because it has felt so good to make this album. I was in a really dark place when I created my last project and while it translated into a piece of art that people found inspirational and uplifting at times, it was draining for me to create it. I'm having so much fun with the music right now. That's the difference.
What message do you want to leave for young women with your legacy?
I'm here to show young women not to be afraid of or shy away from their power but to embrace it. I need young girls to not be driven to meet standards but surpass them by far and with pride. Far too often we dumb ourselves down or quiet our thoughts to spare some man's ego but we have so much to offer. I also need to lead by example and show that it's ok to make music for real women, everyday women with real issues and insecurities. Someone has to have a voice for them and I do. I talk about problems as if they are mine when they may not be. I do it to show women we are the same and I'm here to say what no one wants us to say. We are strong, we have voices and we are going to use them. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman being herself, freely and unapologetically.
Describe your sound in three words.
The Goddess Emcee