Arts & Culture
Pride and Hiphop: Arkansas-Based Performer Afroshoujo Shares Her Journey
A star is born …
Hip Hop is a beloved genre created by the Black diaspora in the United States in the 1970’s as a form of musical expression of Black culture. It has always attracted innovators and trend-setters like Mary Rowe, a performer based in Little Rock.
Mary, or Afroshoujo on-stage, is blending classical operatic training with rap and hiphop and DIY kawaii magic. She was born in Dermott Arkansas where she says that is wasn’t easy to feel like a part of the small community.
Mary knew she was a creative and needed space to explore that. She started rapping in middle school when she was influenced by Young Money Entertainment and Nicki Minaj.
For most of high school she was exploring outside of Arkansas. Though there is a rich musical and creative history in the state a young Black, queer, artist is going to struggle. Mary puts that struggle, her inner feelings, and talent into rap verses. The melodies and rhythms are light, hyper-pop with subject matter that can be very introspective, full of clever word-play and imagery.
Stepping into her destiny …
Years later, as a graduate student, Mary is in a different head-space. Returning to Arkansas turned out to be a game changer for Mary who felt tolerated and not appreciated as a younger artist.
Being reintroduced as an adult and interacting with other Black artists at UA Pine Bluff helped her find validation and confidence and people who shared her ethnic and cultural background
So Mary stepped into her destiny as any magical shoujo would. In 2018 Afroshoujo debuted her first performance and went on to multiple festivals, runway shows, collabs and a tiktok with 11 thousand followers.
Afroshoujo continues to tour. Her merch table is an absolute must, featuring handmade kawaii and decora items like fuzzy purses.
She is inspiring alt-Black and queer people on TikTok to live out loud with decora fashion, and even her own dance trend for her newly released single “DBJ.”
If you need something for your pride playlist, “DBJ” is a must listen and Afroshoujo’s first commercial release in two years. The song explores the negative emotions that we all sip on and encourages the self-awareness to put down the juice!