On her new album, Pieces In Space, Ithaca rapper Sammus (real name Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) fires off songs as piercing as the bullets shot by her Metroid series namesake. She stares down sexist demons with the same intensity and deliberateness that she summons to reflect on childhood innocence. ‘Black Girl Nerd Magic’ is the name of the game, and the weapons are Sammus’ rapid-fire rapping and omnivorous production.
We spoke with Sammus about representation in nerddom, rape culture, the powers of therapy, and being the ‘Bad African Kid.’
Gamergate was the source of a lot of controversy in nerd communities. What was the inspiration for “Comments Disabled,” a track that specifically mentions Gamergate?
Women I was following on Twitter, who were sharing their experiences with harassment. The stories these women shared made me physically ill. I saw how widespread the issue is. That’s what inspired the song.
There’s a weird dynamic where people who should know what it’s like to be bullied spin it and release that vitriol at others. When I picked the name Sammus as my moniker, I was really nervous, because I recognized that geekdom’s dark side can be violent, and I was taking on the moniker of a beloved Nintendo character.