If you love it, let it go. This is one of the fundamental philosophies of Renaissance woman Hanifah Walidah, a musician /performer/poet/ filmmaker/all-around artistic creator, wearer and bearer of many hats. Multiplicity is her mantra, and throughout her career Hanifah has always been dedicated not only to making and creating, but also to setting free and moving on.
Sitting in her Brooklyn apartment could evoke the muse in anyone. Hanifah has washed her home in waves of artistic energy – in the corner is the latest music equipment lying underneath cassette tapes keeping old beats waiting to be remixed, and on the walls are shelves of spiral bound notebooks spilling with rhymes inspired by moments big and small. With a cup of tea brewing at her feet, Hanifah tells tales with the intensity of a storyteller, her irrepressible energy powering her huge smile and expressive hand movements. A svelte woman with boyish charm, a hefty laugh and a surplus of sturdy hugs, she embodies the very multiplicity that is the essence of her work. Hanifah’s got that hot queer balance of masculinity and femininity that puts men at ease and makes the ladies go ga-ga.
Hanifah’s humble beginnings are not so humble. Her talent for reaching out to many different communities in various parts of the world through multiple mediums is evidence of her artistic versatility. A mover and a shaker from early on, Hanifah made her debut as hip-hop artist Sha-Key whose 1994 album A Headnadda’s Journey to Adidi-Skizm released on Imago/BMG was highly praised. In the nineties, Hanifah toured with the Brooklyn Funk Essentials, and co-founded The Vibe Khamelons and The Boom Poetic, two groups that are considered revolutionary in pioneering the synthesis of hip hop rhythms and traditional verse. Having traveled and toured through Europe, from Sweden to Turkey to France, her progressive sound and queer self have been accepted and applauded all over the world.
Staying true to her form, Hanifah works in a variety of mediums, doling out her artistic panache not just in music, but also theatre and film. Her one-woman show Black Folks Guide to Black Folks, is a comedic performance that addresses homophobia in the Black community. In The Guide, Hanifah transforms from one character to another, portraying the interconnectedness of a community