Qbala’s Battle Cries affirms strength and explores identity

Dominic Fante

Battle Cries by Qbala 

Rating: ★★★★


        Qbala’s voice has evolved to become a force in the Northern Colorado hip-hop scene. They are a strong, out, female rapper dedicated to exposing inner self through their music. Since the release of Qbala’s debut album “My State of Dementia” in 2011, the Loveland-based emcee has successfully climbed out of anonymity, experiencing a surge of recognition and praise pouring in from Westword, Bandwagon, and most recently, Hard Rock. Her newest EP, Battle Cries, marks her fourth total release.qbala 2

The theme of this latest album, as evidenced by its name, is perseverance. Qbala identifies as gender neutral, and makes a point to openly discusses gender issues in their songs. Battle Cries’ first track, “So Alone” opens with a narrative of solitude and sadness, then segways to descriptions of feeling trapped as a woman desiring to be a man, uncertain about identity.

In doing so, Qbala switches back and forth between speaking in first-person and third-person, but does so tastefully enough to paint a vivid picture. The subsequent tracks “PRIDE” and “The Archer and The Crab” touch on escaping poverty, while continuing with reservations about gender and sexuality from a character perspective.

The title track, “Battle Cries,” is like a Colorado flag with Qbala’s face in the middle. The song emphasizes their Colorado pride while embodying the confident, assertiveness Qbala is known for. You can feel the passion behind the delivery of their lyrics that flow together like raindrops in a river. Qbala speaks to issues affecting the masses, but makes it personal by revealing themselves through the stories told on their albums.

Qbala’s relentless ambition, coupled with relevant substance about sexuality, gender, and other social issues makes this an album well worth a listen. Once every track or so I had a re-listen to capture all of what was being said. You can catch Qbala on Friday, March 25th, at the Aggie Theatre, opening for Hieroglyphics and Thin Air Crew.

They is used as a singular, gender neutral pronoun. For more information on gender neutral pronouns you can visit: https://lgbt.wisc.edu/documents/LGBTCC-Gender_pronoun_guide.pdf or go to the on-campus GLBTQQIA Resource Center.

Collegian Reporter Dominic Fante can be reached online at music@collegian.com.