When Charmaine first started writing songs as a teenager, her goal was to use her natural talents to help her family get out of a rough patch. At the time, her dad had lost his job and the family was living in a motel. She signed up to perform at a talent show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, where an A&R rep from Warner Music Canada was going to be present.

“I was underage, so my mom had to come with me, and I had to wait outside the venue until it was my turn,” says Charmaine. “Then I went inside, performed, and everything’s been kind of magic since.”

Born in Zimbabwe, Charmaine immigrated to North America as child, living in Chicago, Stevensville (Michigan), and Nashville, before eventually landing in Toronto. Although the city’s diverse population introduced Charmaine to new global sounds, it was the raw and energetic down-South rap music she grew up listening to in Nashville that had the biggest influence on her music. Her latest single “WOO!” is a feminist anthem filled with swagger and a relentless beat.

“We wanted a turn-up vibe, a song that women could listen to when they’re out with their friends, having a blast,” says Charmaine. “It’s about being really content with the woman that you are, and not allowing anyone who is not of value to penetrate your vibe.” Later this year, Charmaine will release her debut EP with Warner Music Canada.

More than just a lyrical theme, female empowerment drives her mission as an artist. “I feel like a lot of local female artists don’t get the recognition they deserve,” she says. “There’s a good amount of us who are super-talented and making amazing music, but it’s like we always have to compete against the men, and we get lost in the shadows. I’m just trying to bring light towards the female rap scene in the city, to show we can do it, too.”