How did you get into music: Growing up, I was always writing poetry and lyrics and doing different spoken-word contests and competitions and performances at my high school, which was Kennard-Dale in the York area. I really started getting into it when I was 17 or 18, and then I moved down to Orlando . . . and started going to a school called Full Sail University. It's a music engineering and production school. I learned how to record all my own songs. It's been really fun and really creative.
Can you describe your sound and style? I'd say my sound and style is a lyrical freestyle. I decided I wanted to use AIM as a rap name because everything I represent with my music is lyrical truth. A lot of the time, the pen and paper get in the way. I'll just turn the microphone on in the studio . . . and I'll just make it up right there on the fly. Then I'll go back over it and write the story out.
Where does your inspiration come from? My mom and my sister. I have passion for what I do. The only other person who has passion like I do for music is my sister, who has passion for hair. Her drive and passion for what she does inspires me. My mom raised me so well. She's my rock in my life.
What are your musical influences? My musical influences go over all genres. I love country. I love hip-hop. I love classical. I like to listen to music that has a story. I don't really like a lot of the pop music. I like a lot of things that talk about real elements of truth and life and relationships.
What is your experience with the York music scene? I listened to rock bands (in high school). The York area itself I feel is changing as I move away and come back. People react so amazingly to my music. I think I might do a show around Thanksgiving or New Year's. I have lot of fans in the York area who are older. They don't understand that it's hip-hop. They understand the concept of my songs.
Is there a highlight in your career so far? I had a competition in Orlando with Lil' Wayne. He did a making-the-next-hit showcase. There were about 300 to 400 people. I was one of two female rappers and the rest were all guys. Out of that (crowd), they picked 10 rappers and I was one of them. I won for pure talent. I got invited to perform at BET's Spring Bling. That was really fun.
Do you sometimes feel inhibited being a female in male-dominated genre like hip-hop? I feel that it's an advantage. I do a lot of ghost writing for male rappers. I have to earn those people's respect. That kind of respect is undeniable. But what I don't do is play it up. I keep it girly, but classy. I don't like the bathing suit Playboy look because I think women do that for attention. I want people to hear me, and when you dress like that, people don't listen. I did an opener for G-Unit last November and that can be difficult when you are the only girl backstage that is not a model.
What are your long-term goals? A couple years down the road, I see everybody knowing who I am. I told my mom by the time I was 24, I was going to make the cover of Vibe. That gives me a year and a half. I feel it. I'm moving to Miami in a little while, and then I'm off to L.A. My roots are back in York. People from my hometown know I'm a great rapper and writer. They know me from when we were getting Cheetos at 7-Eleven. When I want a break, I go back to York. I like the environment.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF