Sista She was in the house. And it certainly wasn’t a house that one would normally find a feminist comedic hip hop duo. They were at the Arts Centre, preaching their message of peace, love, and most importantly, the glory of the well-endowed bottom – or, in hip hop speak, the bootay.
Those who came to worship with Sheila MC Eila (Sarah Ward) and Rasheda EDA MC (Candy Bowers) at the Sista She church were not the blue rinse congregation usually found at such a venue. An exuberant mix of ages and races, the crowd was ready to pray with the women as they traveled through song, chat, spoken word and funky dance maneuvers to make their points about self-respect, cultural respect and the everyday challenges of female life. It was hip hop with a sense of humour and a totally refreshing take on the often misogynistic genre. By the end of the night we were all more than happy to convert to the House of the Holy Bootay. What better religion than one that celebrates the natural sexiness of the female form with enthusiastic, entertaining wit?
“Inner Thigh,” lamented the fact that their corduroy pants always wear down inside the leg due to “a fraction too much friction.” An ode to sneakers became a well-executed pop medley and a ballad professing their addiction to talk show television built in some Oprah-style feel-good mantras. Stick in some celebratory bootay tracks, infectious bootay shaking and capable singing about the bootay and that’s one good night out!
As Sista She, Bower and Ward have been together for five years and their act has certainly tightened up since the first time I saw them in 2004. They kept things moving and built up a satisfying pace. From their casual banter and choreographed transitions to the integration of Busty Beats (Kim Bower) and DJ Jonah (Tim Hagan) into the mix, the show works without being overworked. It has the ability to laugh at itself and its hip hop culture, while still clearly loving it. It does not rely on crudity or gratuitous sex to make its point and everyone involved has plenty of talent. As much as I loved Sheila and Rasheda, it was Busty Beats who stole the show for me. She sang two solo tracks and accompanied the duo with a dry delivery and understated dance movements that were fantastic.
The costume changes – plenty of track suits, runners and bling, the celebration of the curvaceous backside and a special appearance by The Tongan Youth Group for an uplifting finale all contributed to the feel good nature of the event.
Good on Sista She for running with their ideas and developing them into something much more evolved and multi-faceted than a just a stand up or musical act. And equally important is the Art Centre’s Full Tilt program which allows such artists that extra bit of support needed to take their work to the next level. Hopefully Sista She and The House of The Holy Bootay can be seen by more audiences in the future.
Sista She And The House Of The Holy Bootay
Venue: the Arts Centre, Fairfax Studio
Dates: 26th – 28th April, 2007
Tickets: $28 Full, $23 Con, $20 Group of 6 or more people