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Charmaine Plots World Domination on “BORDERLINES”

The Toronto hip-hop and R&B star’s first foray into indie life looks to the past before looking to the future.

by Ben Boddez

Toronto hip-hop and R&B artist Charmaine is kicking off a new phase of her career with a pivot to indie life, and her latest single appropriately finds her looking back on where she’s been and what got her here before looking towards the future. Donning a crown in the visuals for “BORDERLINES,” she brings her whole family on board to demonstrate the foundation of support that’s brought her this far and helped her take the throne.

Blending some confident rapped verses and a soulful chorus over a more calming and introspective beat, the track lyrically nods to achievements like picking up a Juno Award earlier this year for Rap Single of the Year for her track “BOLD” – as the camera pans across her name engraved on the trophy – while the chorus looks forward to hopping on flights and taking her skills worldwide.

We caught up with Charmaine below to chat about her latest track and working with her family on set. 

Photo: Spencer Edwards

Was there any trouble getting your whole family in the video, or was everyone enthusiastic?
It was actually pretty easy to get everyone involved. My family has always been very supportive and present in my music journey so they were excited to be in it.

Do you have any fun stories from being on set?
There was a point in one of the clips at the end of the video where we’re all sitting on the stairs together and we had to do a take. My mom’s press-on nail came off right before the camera rolled and we started dying of laughter even though I kept rapping. Then she leans over to give my little brother a high five and another one comes off HAHA! That’s why we were laughing at the end and it was so funny cause you can actually see one of her pinky nails is missing a press-on right after the on camera high five. Between that and my son telling us his jokes on set, it was so much fun.

What have been the best and worst things about indie life so far?
The worst part I would say is just the initial adjustment. I never really put music out before I got signed so I didn’t even get the chance to experience indie life and what it entails. So it was a bit overwhelming at first to get my footing but I’m doing a lot better now. The best part is I get to be creative and explore anything my heart desires freely. I’ve always said I want my artistry to be multifaceted in sound and I’ve been diving in to find out what else I can do.

What is this song about to you? What makes it one of your more personal tracks?
This song was written a few months back in a moment where I felt the most overwhelmed. I put this pressure on myself to prove that I belong here…But I had to find a way to remind myself of how far I’ve come, how blessed I am and how far I’m going. Probably the first record I’ve poured this much emotion into. I recorded it on my dinky little setup in my bedroom, mixed and mastered it on my own. I wanted to be raw, vulnerable and transparent…tell a story. My story. This is my favourite record I’ve ever done thus far. I’m super proud of it.

Who have been some of your biggest musical inspirations? What have you been listening to lately?
Definitely Missy Elliot, Lil Kim, Beyonce, Foxy Brown…there’s a lot of amazing women in the game who’ve inspired me both in music and in life. I have been listening to Beyonce’s RENAISSANCE album on repeat though HAHA! It puts me in such a happy space mentally and energy wise. I love it.

The song mentions that you’re going to be “taking it worldwide” – where do you want to go first? Any dream destinations that you’ve never been to?
My dream destination would be anywhere in Africa. I’m Zimbabwean so it would be great to go back home and bring it full circle. Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa…and an honourable mention Brazil!

What’s next for Charmaine? Anything else you’d like us to know?
What’s next is me continuing to evolve and grow artistically, sonically and show everyone the different layers of who I am. Everything you’ve heard before this was only scratching the surface. This and the music to come will show just how complex I am…in every good way. I’m currently working on an R&B project as well and I’m not sure when you guys will hear it but just know it won’t be too too long!