Those resistant to the progressive pull of changes in today’s vernacular need step aside from the word-flow of Geexella. The Springfield-based singer-rapper-educator and activist is all about the malleability of language; particularly toward how we address, and view, the African-American, multicultural, and LGBTQ communities. As a self-described pansexual person of color (POC), Geexella is in a unique position in American society. While they acknowledge that great changes have been made, they also feel that even greater changes need to occur. Their place within their millennial milieu is to assure us that marginalization is never a personal choice but rather a systemic form of prejudice. While Geexella’s lyrics may be demanding for some, they present those ideas in music that intends to teach rather than preach.
“My music has a lot of soul inspiration and a lot of ‘boom bap’ thanks to Willie,” they say, acknowledging longtime producer Willie Evans Jr. “I love the mix of R&B and hip hop. Obviously, being a singer and a rapper, I appreciate the pull and inspiration from those styles.” They cite Digable Planets, A Tribe Called Quest, and Lauryn Hill as core influences. Which makes sense, as Geexella is part of the new wave of progressive rap artists, particularly here in Duval, whose music is concerned more with lyrical insight and tripped-out mixes than praising hollow materialism.
As a graduate of LaVilla School of the Arts and DASOTA, the 27-year-old Geexella has formal training as a musician. But while they had a sense of lyricism, they were still reticent to dive into the onstage word lyrical stream. “I’m a pretty strong singer but I reached out to Che,” they say. Che, formerly Cheech Forreign, is a formidable, local solo artist in her own right and member of L.O.V.E. Culture. “I had concepts, feelings, and even a hook, but didn’t have a sense of the ‘catchiness’ of writing a song. It just seemed unfamiliar. Cheech helped co-write my EP, gee things. She was really into it and having this dope MC next to me really gave me the confidence to push through.”
Geexella’s constant creative companion has been longtime Jacksonville hip-hop mainstay, Willie Evans Jr. They see Evans Jr. as a collaborator, sounding board, and certain mentor. “I feel very blessed that he’s my friend and he’s an amazing artist who is totally accessible to me. The sound he makes is the sound I want. What works with us is that I can tell him what I need and he can tell me what I need to work on. And I’m very sensitive, and he’s sensitive to that.”
Geexella’s lyrics push for greater empowerment, tolerance, and, ultimately, personal and societal change. “I think language is the start-point for change since it’s such a powerful, and available, tool. A lot of folks don’t understand the pronouns can even be a sign of violence,” they say. “And I’m not saying that people who misuse gender pronouns are necessarily ‘doing it wrong.’ I think people are just slowly getting a better understanding, which is good.” One example of misgendering Geexella brings right down to earth. “Look at shoes,” they laugh. “These are ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ shoes. They’re just shoes!” Their emphasis on addressing gender is all encompassing. Even their email signature ends with an educational footer: “Pronouns: They, Them, Theirs.”
After recently adding DJ to their skillset (a year in and Geexella’d already spun at TIAA Bank Field) they created the club event, Duval Folx. A kind of culmination of their concepts and strengths, Duval Folx parties are events intended to be safe spaces for LGBTQ-and-POC communities.
“I want people to feel comfortable with their bodies first, with gender and color, and where they can just hang out and have fun. It’s a place where people can understand how to address gender today,” says Geexella. A recent Duval Folx held at 1904 Music Hall pulled in a packed house. “It’s really a place for people of color. But anyone is welcome as long as they respect everyone who’s there.”
Geexella is also involved with the music-mentorship program Girls Rock! Jacksonville; whose goal is to teach girls and young women to find and express their own creative voice while teaching them understanding and respect towards and of all walks of life. “It’s such a thrill to pass on what’s been given to me to these girls,” they say.