Traditionally, finding a space and staying true to yourself as a woman in music has always been a difficult task, a fact that has been well-documented over the last few decades, particularly in male-dominated genres such as Hip-Hop and R&B. Such is the case with Parkwood Entertainment, home to Beyoncé Knowles‘ media ventures and various projects, as well as home to a growing array of female heavyweights including emerging acts such as Chloe x Halle and Sophie Beem. Parkwood’s true strength, however, lies with Ingrid, the young artist from the Third Ward section of Houston, Texas, and not-so-known veteran of the music industry.
After sitting with the rapper/singer for close to an hour, discussing everything from growing up in the Third Ward and being close friends with her (then) neighbors Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, moving to New York City and selling her art just to make ends meet, to being a part of Lemonade‘s entire journey, one thing became extremely clear: Ingrid is going to change the face of music, one track at a time.
“Just being able to lock this [deal with Parkwood] down and work for her is amazing, despite our personal relationship,” said Ingrid. “Her sister and I are really close friends. And inadvertently, Bey’s been a big sister to me. I’ve been around her and have had a front-row seat to see some of the people she’s worked with and it’s a hard job. As cool as it appears to be, she puts in so much work.” Her love for Knowles runs deeper than simply just growing up with her, however, as the “Sorry” singer gave her her first chance prior to signing her to the Parkwood family.
“I started writing for [Beyoncé] about four years ago out in the Hamptons,” she stated. “I wrote ‘Bow Down’ and worked on ‘XO’ for Beyoncé. I actually worked on that album for a couple of years.” She attributes Knowles’ sound on most of her albums to the influence she’s had on her over the years. “There’s a lot of elements of me in it as well: The views, repping the Third Ward. There was a lot of direct influence from me there.” Since working on the album, Ingrid went on to continue writing for Knowles, penning “Love Drought” as well as contributing to a few other tracks on the now platinum Lemonade. “I actually wrote ‘Love Drought’ two years ago,” she said. “That just shows you how the process goes. I create, create, and create and pray that something catches on.” She continues to refllect on the accomplishment that put her on the map, “It’s pretty surreal still. I didn’t learn about the placement until about two days before the album came out!”
The young artist praises Knowles for being one of the most attentive people she’s met in the industry, despite her hectic schedule. With Beyoncé being one of the busiest entertainers on the scene right now, Ingrid admits that it was a major cause for concern prior to her signing with the label. She insists, however, that Knowles is there for each of her artists, and praises her for her attention to detail, as well as for how involved she is with everyone. “It still scares me,” she says. “But she’s very open, attentive, and sensitive to the fact that she is very busy. Now, I’m not emailing her everyday but when I do reach out, she always responds quickly. I think each time we talk, I get reassurance.” She continued, “For example, around the time we were shooting the ‘Flex’ video, she was just wrapping up rehearsals for [The Formation World Tour] and I needed her attention and input immediately. And she was on email giving feedback on every single detail! She’s super involved with all of her artists.”
Ingrid detailed how moving back to Houston (she previously resided in Brooklyn, NY) has helped shaped her new sound, attributing the theme of her newly released EP, Trill Feels, to the debunking of the often loud mind of a misunderstood creative. “Some people will hear the EP and probably say “Oh, that’s some emotional songwriter shit,'” she joked. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised about the things I talk about and how relatable it is. You don’t necessarily hear some of the things I talk about being addressed in music.” As for the Houston influence, she stated that every single thing she discusses on the album has been a real-life situation that she has gone through – even the most outlandish parts. “I really ride around Houston smoking with the windows [down] just like it’s legal, and I’m chilling with a cup of Crown [Royale] in the holder,” laughed Ingrid. In an effort to perfect every single one of her abilities, the young singer worked on her technique, most specifically her vocals. “What’s cool about Trill Feels is that I’ve always been a Hip-Hop artist so I’ve never done the singing thing before,” explained Ingrid. “I’ve always wrote and sang but publicly, I’ve always presented myself as a rapper. So now that I’ve been spending all this time on songwriting, my singing voice got better from demo-ing the records.”
Her new project,Trill Feels, released on June 17, showcases her feminine side while redefining how the world looks at women in the space of hip-hop. She reflected on her time shooting the visual for her latest single “Flex” with Sevyn Streeter, recounting the various scenes that’s making its accompanying visual a hit, including shots of her sitting on top of her grandmother’s house, smoking while she sits in a hazy, smoke-filled room with her presumed lover, and partying in various clubs (including one strip club) around the city. “It’s a great feeling. After I shot the Flex video I just kept quoting that Pimp C verse: ‘Made myself a ghetto star,'” said Ingrid. “Just a week ago the radio picked my record up there, which is a huge deal down south. They’re tweeting about my project and spreading the word and it’s starting to catch fire. People are really, really starting to rock with it. I’m touching people who I don’t even know personally.”
“[Trill Feels] is true Hip-Hop. Everyone has their own definition as to what true Hip-Hop is, but for what I know, it’s true Hip-Hop.”
While she played the album in its entirety, the artist reflected on each of the tracks produced, recanting the fueling emotion behind the music. The project showcases Ingrid’s unique ability to bring a traditional rap technique, along with songwriting capabilities and her newly mastered singing techniques, to the forefront – something that the music scene hasn’t seen since the days of Lauryn Hill and something she actually attributes to advice she received from Knowles. “Beyoncé was the actually the first person that said ‘You should take [your vocals] seriously and work on it,’” said Ingrid. “‘Perfect your craft so you can start singing on your songs.’ And it’s made me 100% better.” She continued, “It took a couple of years to reach this point creatively on this particular project, I was fortunate because I got to make it with all of the people who I really vibe with,” said Ingrid. “It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do: Work with people who I’m a fan of is really a dream come true. Something that I’ve always prayed about.”
One of the best moments that came for Ingrid, was when she received the opportunity to work with critically acclaimed singer/songwriter James Fauntleroy, who is a frequent favorite of Beyoncé. “I have James Fauntleroy on the last track which is a dream come true – not to sound corny,” she laughs. “James was kind of silent mentor for me when I was writing for Bey, which is how I met him. The respect was mutual and it just grew organically.”
As for what her plans are for the future, the artist states that she has every intention to leave music to pursue something greater than her and to eventually, put Houston’s music scene on the map for good. “Signing to Parkwood is the top for me, but I would love to do more on a philanthropic level – especially with kids and schools. Music is great, but it’s just a platform to do all of the other things that I would love to do. Hopefully I can do something more than just creating art – that’s the ultimate goal.” She later adds, “In five years my goal is also to bring out some of the talent that’s there,” says Ingrid. “The ones singing in the churches, singing every Sunday at the bars that I just hang out at, that kind of talent and those kind of people I just hope that I can help them get the visibility that they deserve. The same way we have platforms [in New York] to be seen, those opportunities in Houston are limited.”
“You should’ve seen the reaction from people there when I brought a crew down in the Third Ward, sitting on top of my Grandma’s house producing a real video. That doesn’t happen there at all.”
As our chat came to a close, I began to understand why an artist like her was handpicked by Knowles. Uttering what is perhaps the strongest statement she’s stated in her career thus far, Ingrid boldly proclaimed her stance in the music scene. “I have something to say, I have a point of view,” said Ingrid. “I have a point of view that hasn’t necessarily been addressed. And for that reason, I have a responsibility to say something. I would never call myself a ‘conscious rapper’ but I am a conscious human, so I make conscious music. And that’s what I’m doing here with Trill Feels.”
Photo Credit: Ibra Ake for Parkwood Entertainment