You might've seen the music video for Kat Dahlia's "Gangsta," which has become an online anthem for independent women who don't want to rely on self-identified "gangstas." Dahlia doesn't even have an album out yet, but the "Gangsta" video has been viewed more than 5 million times. But besides the chorus, which is about a guy, the verses are about Dahlia's divorced parents struggling to make it and provide for their kids:
"Now I ain't stuntin like my daddy, he's livin with my grammy."
"Abuela, mommy, and the girls, in a one bedroom… Mommy on the couch since she was 42, sacrificing for the kids 'cause that's what mommies do."
The Miami native, whose music is a *fusion* of rap and soul, says her family didn't hear the song until it was completed, and they were pretty shocked when they heard it. "My mom felt like I was putting out our business in a negative way," says the 22-year-old Dahlia, whose real name is Katriana Huguet. "Now she is definitely more supportive. She realizes how many people resonate with the song. I wasn't writing this to call everybody out. It was me talking about things that I was going through and things that I was frustrated with."
Her dad's response was more positive. "He said he shed a tear because it was so truthful," Dahlia says.
The song's video has over 9,000 comments -- most of which compare the rapper's voice to Rihanna's. She doesn't mind people comparing her to other artists like Adele or Gwen Stefani, either. "I feel like people's minds are just set to put something with another thing. Like, 'What does this sound like? What does this taste like?' and we try to find that relative thing," Dahlia says. "I have major respect for all those artists. Thankfully they're all extremely successful and they're all extremely dope."
Most musicians fight so hard against comparisons that it's refreshing to hear Dahlia see the comparisons as compliments. She's the kind of girl who sees the glass half full. She's also the kind of girl who'll write a strong hit song out of her problems. Maybe that's why music industry veteran Sylvia Rhone signed her with Epic Records.
Dahlia is refreshingly honest in interviews, as well. The Cuban-American singer-songwriter left Miami for New York after feeling trapped in her hometown: "I was working in restaurants and was caught in the lifestyle. It was draining and depressing after a while. Once I got fired for the second time for drinking on the job, I moved up to New York to pursue music."
She just released her second single, "Fireman," online and today will be part of the "Live Music Day Festival" -- the first 24-hour online music festival -- that started last night during the O Music Awards (an award show sponsored by MTV, CMT, and VH1). So if you missed Bonnaroo, and Hangout Festival, and Jazz Fest, and Coachella, and SXSW, you can still dress up like Vanessa Hudgens and pretend to be on shrooms while wearing neon plastic Ray Bans and watch some live performances from your couch.
The lineup includes Gavin DeGraw, Grouplove, Jonas Brothers, Hanson… let me repeat, HANSON!!... and Kat Dahlia, who goes on around 3 p.m. today for a 20-minute set.
Dahlia is talking about moving back south when winter comes, but not before her album My Garden comes out in September. And surely soon enough, we'll be seeing singers being compared to Kat Dahlia.