Defiant rapper Tommy Genesis is insatiable and completely in control

Photography Janette Beckman

Published March 14, 2018

Tommy Genesis declines to discuss her background or reveal her age. “If I had it my way, you wouldn’t even know my name,” says the Vancouver-born rapper. And, in truth, we don’t: Genesis is actually her first name, Tommy her stage name. Her real surname is a secret. As a response to the 24/7 public lives we’ve come to associate with most pop stars, Genesis doesn’t want to be defined by what we think we know about her. Instead, she carefully filters details of her private life into her music. Her trap-style rap songs are deeply confessional, albeit inscrutable, and often charged with white-hot sexual energy.

After posting some tracks online, Genesis caught the eye of Father, an Atlanta-based rapper who signed her to his label and produced her debut mixtape, 2015’s World Vision. Since then, she has been releasing singles and touring with Dua Lipa as she prepares for her debut full-length, Genesis, out this spring. She describes the album as a departure from her earlier work—less experimental and more accessible. “The difference is I’m not writing for me,” she says. “I’m writing for you.”

Still, the self-proclaimed “fetish rapper” seems to delight in exploring the fringes of good taste while working on her new material. “I’ll be in the studio and I’ll say something, and everyone will be like, ‘Woah, woah, woah,’” she says. “But I didn’t even realize what I said was shocking. Nothing’s shocking to me.” The video for her recent single, “Tommy,” which she directed and edited, features Genesis naked in a bathtub, and ends with her in a cage. “It’s important I have control,” she says. “That way nobody can tell me who I need to be, or dictate my identity or my sexuality.” Genesis believes that if you don’t own your own sexuality, someone else will. “People tell me, ‘You have to relinquish control, Tommy,’” she says. “And I’m just like, ‘What if I don’t?’”