“88 and Beyond”

Kimmortal (self-portrait)

The year has barely started, but I’m already feeling a theme running through my 2018 blog posts: finding one’s voice.

Vancouver-based rapper Kimmortal found hers, as many do, through music. “I really started embracing my voice when I realized I could write and bring words to song,” she explained to Wear Your Voice last year, describing how songwriting and musical exploration helped manage her anxiety and stutter through her teens. “I would wake up crying from dreams where I was speaking eloquently and powerfully,” she reveals in the interview; “I led a hip-hop dance team at the time, and it was through motion that I could express myself, but it was my voice that I wanted to access, because I knew it was my power.”

“88 and Beyond”, Kimmortal’s latest release, erupts with power, determination, and a fierce sense of self. It is a clarion call to dismantle the cisgender, male-dominated hip-hop landscape and make room for queer, POC, and indigenous artists. This Filipino-Canadian emcee and songwriter is using her platform as a performer and promoter to not only give marginalized people a place at the table, but help them establish connections and community with others. “If you hangin by a thread / Hold these lines for survival,” she raps in the song’s final moments, throwing out a lifeline to all who need it; “My Legacy the seed ascending / this is our arrival.”

There’s a palpable energy and vibe to “88 and Beyond” that feels like a pivot point for Kimmortal. There is urgency in her rhymes and spitfire flow. A little reverb on the lines “I’m Queer like the water / resilient through trauma,” reinforces the sense that Kimmortal is working at a higher consciousness, attuned to vibrations in the universe that most mortals will never feel. She profoundly feels it, deeply lives it, and is voicing what’s long been silent with conviction and power.

Video filmed by Jerez Challenger at Musqueum Cultural Centre, Vancouver, BC.

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