ADRIANA IE' / SINGER
It’s hard to find real truth in contemporary society. It’s even harder to describe it. To share it. It’s an almost impossible mission that Hip Hop carries on without pause, generation after generation, finding skillful voices throughout the world. Italy is no different. Here, we met Adriana, a singer-songwriter raised on the dancefloor who evolved, almost by accident, into a well-rounded artist. Her musical history is defined by intense emotional extroversion, focused on collective protest and individual therapy. In the life of this young but award-winning artist, Hip-Hop is a bridge between the past and present; it is a thread that unites major themes like diversity, discovery, and a true understanding of what surrounds us.
How did your relationship with music come about?
When I was 3 years old, I started attending a dance school and haven't stopped since. Along with that, I’ve always listened to a lot of music. When I was young, my mom was amazed that I spoke English fluently, but I was just repeating the songs I’d heard. I also liked to compose songs; I wrote my first one when I was 7 and dedicated it to the cat that had run away from home. But I never thought I had any talent. It wasn't until I was 25 that I started doing things seriously. I entered an online song contest and made it through the first round of selections. Problem was I hadn't read the rules; I thought it was a cover contest, but it wasn't! I had to produce a totally new song in 24 hours! It was crazy, but I enjoyed it and continued in the following months, and soon found myself collaborating with artists and producers all over Italy.
Who were your musical inspirations?
It’s hard not to drop some big names like James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse. Besides their incredible voices and soul, I’ve always been captivated by their intensity in describing an emotion. In my teenage years, I got into American rap, like Notorious B.I.G. and Wu-Tang Clan, and then Italian rap, like Colle der Fomento and Inoki. That latter strand became my real musical north star.
How has your relationship with writing evolved from that first song to today?
In the beginning, it was all just a game. But then I started focusing more and more on analyzing, studying and consciously constructing each piece. Writing became a kind of therapy. I never express or share deep emotions in my daily life. I’ve always played the part of listener: people tend to feel comfortable when they’re with me. I am not introverted in the strict sense of the word; dance has made me really extroverted and present from a physical point of view, but writing is where I can communicate concepts that I usually keep to myself: they are mostly personal feelings and ideas related to society. The first few times I was worried that no one would understand me.... When I realized that people saw themselves in my lyrics and appreciated their authenticity, simplicity and sincerity, all that disappeared.
What do you want to communicate with your songs?
On stage I prefer to bring protest instead of sadness. In the day-to-day, I’m drawn to the things I don’t like, especially injustice and the absence of humanity. Dance lets me get in touch with children, and I am constantly inspired by their authenticity, a characteristic that, in my opinion, a lot of adults have been forced to lose because society demands it. I think it’s important to communicate honestly. Hip Hop is all about being direct, but I’m suspicious of those who connect it to crime. Thanks to Hip Hop, for example, I’ve realized how many ways there are to ruin your life, and I’ve avoided them.... I think those who glorify crime probably haven’t really experienced it. I am also convinced that not every song has to contain a social or ideological message, otherwise they risk coming across as forced. Music is, first and foremost, a kind of escapism from the world.
Which lyrics are you most attached to?
Inoki's song ‘Non mi avrete mai’ ('You'll Never Have Me') is an absolute masterpiece. It perfectly describes one of the founding pillars of Hip Hop: it doesn’t matter what other people think of you, and we’ll never bend our principles to what society demands. In terms of my work, I've always loved ‘Sparami’ ('Shoot Me'), produced with Inoki: "We scream alone, because it's alone we were raised, behind banknotes between two strangers." I think it’s a reflection of my generation, after all, we’re young-adults struggling economically because of the decisions of those before us. Singing this song with a legend like Inoki, an artist who lives that truth, meant a lot to me.
You have had the opportunity to collaborate with some legendary Italian artists and perform nationwide. What’s next?
I’ve been experimenting a lot and I’ve been on a lot of different stages. In 2024, I’ll be releasing my first EP, which will let me leave a more tangible mark. It will consist of five unreleased tracks and a few collabs. I can't wait to take it on the road and for people to hear it.
Talent : Adriana Iè
Photo : Riccardo Romani