“I’m nice but not that nice” is what Lil Debbie told the crowd in a packed club, after a man attempted to hurl a drink at her onstage. It was disappointing to witness, especially since nothing of the sort had happened at any of the other shows we’ve been to. For Debbie though, it seemed to be just another day in the life as she moved back into the music quickly, after reprimanding the offender.
A rap show is a testosterone filled environment. The whole setup, from the expletive laced performances by artists and hype-men, to the girls they bring up on stage to dance – it’s catered for a male experience. It’s been the nature of rap, one of the most male dominated genres from its inception, with women only participating on a bigger platform in recent years.
Lil Debbie’s fought to turn the tides of this seminal boys club since she first picked up a mic. Her career has seen her persevere despite routine backlash which first started when she left the White Girl Mob and continues today with online torment just because she’s a female with bars. The constant barrage of negativity she’s waded through in the last few years seems to have amplified her stamina.
Debbie is strong; her presence is felt even before she speaks a word on stage. She commands attention, demands that you listen to her and engage with her. She speaks often, going on a trail of F-bombs capped off with a sweet smile.
She yells, she smokes, she stops songs to encourage you to follow your dreams.
“Nice, but not that nice” needs to be the maxim of every woman in the music industry, and every woman period. Knowing yourself and your boundaries may not make you easily marketable to record labels, but it adds years of longevity to your career, because adhering to your persona and refusing to be pushed around is authentic. That authenticity is craved by music audiences, who can see far past the manufactured bullshit, which is why Lil Debbie is in high demand by her audience even though ratchet/hyphy music has simmered recently.
We sat down with Lil Debbie before this show and spoke with her about competition and camaraderie.