Haviah Mighty speaks her truth in ‘13th Floor’
For Toronto-born, Brampton-raised rapper Haviah Mighty, 13th Floor feels like a rebirth.
In what is her most acclaimed album to date, Mighty questions, unpacks and tackles marginalization as she declares self-love as a young, black woman throughout 13 skillfully crafted tracks.
“There was a time where the female rappers that were getting the spotlight had different messages and they looked very different. I couldn’t envision space for somebody like me so, I do think the climate shift has a lot to do with it,” she says of what makes now the best time to release her latest solo album since 2017’s Flower City.
Co-executively produced by Mighty and Tim ‘2oolman’ Hill of A Tribe Called Red, the 2019 Polaris-shortlisted album features bold and thought-provoking bars that discuss race, gender, and even relationships. Charged with influences of hip-hop and Caribbean-style beats, Mighty’s energy and musical innovation shine through each track — a testament to what has made her one of the most influential rappers out of Toronto.
The album’s title not only refers to the superstition surrounding the 13th floor of buildings, but also the 13th Amendment. It’s a topic directly discussed in “Thirteen,” a powerful piano-driven track where Mighty traces the history of slavery in America, and a song she describes as the “catalyst” for the album.
“Most of us don’t know why, but we know that the majority of buildings skip that floor and we tend to dismiss it,” Mighty says. “I think it’s an ironic parallel to the marginalization that people of colour face. Particularly as a black woman, I think my reality is very dismissed in Canada.”
Released on International Women’s Day, Mighty penned “In Women Colour” after a conversation she had with Toronto-based producer OBUXUM about being a woman in the music industry. Built around the song’s emphasis on beats, claps and touch of electric guitar, Mighty reflects on her experiences as she navigates the world as a young black woman, both in the music industry and her personal life, including when she was beaten up by a boy on a basketball court as a young girl. Ultimately, it’s an anthem of empowerment.
“If I wasn’t a musician, if I wasn’t in the position that I’m in, where I get the space to do what I do, I would actually be stigmatized very much for who I am as a person,” she says. “It was a bunch of thoughts of, ‘What did people say about me? And what would they say about me if I wasn’t a rapper?’”
Watch: Haviah Mighty, “In Women Colour”
The next song picks up where Mighty left off in the opening track of having found strength in her experiences. She proclaims self-confidence in “Waves” (featuring Sean Leon) with the lyrics, "Respect is what I'm on and you should know I’ma stay strong." We’re introduced to new genres as Mighty opposes the negativity of those who don’t have her best interests at heart in “Wishy Washy,” a light-weight track that fuses the sounds of dancehall and hip-hop, and features a verse in patois from her sister, Omega Mighty.
‘Blame’ is a song of self-motivation
Mighty fires bars in “Blame” a song of “self-motivation, self-proclamation and self-manifestation.” Framed as an intervention in the music video (the participants are actually some of Mighty’s greatest supporters), the song is a commentary of society’s tendency to judge people who celebrate their achievements –– and she’s worked hard to actualize her own reality.
“What I've had to do these last few years is strengthen my mental and ‘Blame’ is an affirmation of championing yourself publically,” Mighty says. “It’s me in the middle of the world with all the noise and all the clutter.”
Mighty flexes her ability to blend her singing skills with rap and experimentation with sound throughout the tracklist with songs like “Ride” and “Fugazi.” The album returns to Caribbean-style beats in “You Don’t Love Me” and her signature high-energy dominates in “Squad” as she proudly celebrates her family, heritage and support system.
Mighty has lived up to her name in her newest work. A self-described underdog, her breakthrough album was independently released, and is one of several projects she’s recorded solo and as one-third of The Sorority. After years of honing her craft and message, it's clear that Mighty is not only redefining the Canadian rap scene but will only continue to thrive in doing so.
“13th Floor feels like a rebirth. It feels like I get to step into my new reality and speak my truth and not care about anything that holds me back from sharing that truth.”