Mykah_Red Bull Batalla

INTERVIEW: This Rapera Was the Only Woman Competing in Red Bull Batalla U.S.

Mykah performs at the Red Bull Batalla regionals in Los Angeles, CA, USA on 30 July, 2022 // Jeremy Deputat / Red Bull Content Pool

Being the sole woman in an all-boys club sounds complicated. Now, can you imagine competing against them? That’s been the Mexican-American rapper Santa Mykah’s reality, facing her male counterparts in Red Bull Batalla as the first-ever woman qualifier in the U.S.

The Red Bull Batalla qualifiers are no walk in the park. Picture this: 16 competitors going against each other in a brack-style freestyle battle. The battle is conformed of two heated rounds. During the first round, the competitors had to freestyle on theme after being given a specific keyword they had to rap about. The winners then advance to a second round, where they compete one more time before heading to the final round.

Last Saturday (July 15), Mykah—born Greta Michaela Ramirez Garcia—ended up winning her first round against LA-based Chuma in Los Angeles, CA. Her hard-hitting verses, electrifying voice, and overall boss attitude led her to battle against the Red Bull Batalla 2021 USA Champion, Reverse. Although she didn’t win the cuartos, she advanced further than last year. Ultimately, Reverse won the Regional Qualifier. But what stood out that night was how Mykah handled her competition with on-point fierceness. Her all-around composure easily made her one of the night’s most memorable rappers. 

But how does the 24-year-old make it to this point? In a recent conversation with Remezcla, the Tijuana-born rapera spoke about how she combats imposter syndrome, deals with her Red Bull Batalla competition’s machismo, and how she’s becoming the best version of herself.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You’re from a border town (San Diego). How does this influence you as an artist?

I recently had an interview in another podcast, and somebody commented because the title of the video was [something like], “The best Mexican rapper of the moment,” and somebody straight up commented like, “She’s not even Mexican, she’s from Cali.” I was like, “Oh, my bad, I didn’t know 12 years of my life spent in Mexico, being born and raised there didn’t count.” It really made me stop and think, like, “Who am I?” I’m trying to be Mexican so bad, but I’m trying to be American so bad. It sucks, but then I realized you are you, and there are so many more people that feel exactly the way you feel. And I think that’s what music gives me. It gives me the freedom to say what I want to say, how I want to say it, and the people who understand they will, and that’s it. So when I go in with a full verse in English or a chorus in English, and then I go in with Spanish ad-libs or a Spanish verse or half and half—like seeing Snow Tha Product do that in that Bizarrap session, really pushes me because my whole time I wanted to do that, and I was looked at weird for doing it, for mixing and matching.

How does it feel to compete in a male-dominated freestyle battle?

It’s difficult, and it’s really scary. Like literally up until Tuesday, I couldn’t talk about Batalla. It was like a big impostor syndrome moment where I talked myself into “I don’t deserve to be there,” like, “Why am I even there?” Or [thinking that] they’re only having me there because I’m a woman and it’s 2023 and they want diversity, but it’s not really because I’m good. 

So it was a big deal. I started to become my worst enemy. And then it hit [me] like, I am that girl. And I think there’s a lot of us that are that girl. I’m just that girl in Batalla. And this allows me to be that alpha figure that I wanted to be for the little me growing up. And I think that’s why with fear, with anxiety, with impostor syndrome, at the end of the day, when it comes to the battle, I’m going to go out there and do the best that I can to satisfy the baby girl that lives inside me. Even if I’m petrified to go up on stage.

And then it hit [me], like, I am that girl. And I think there’s a lot of us that are that girl. I’m just that girl in Batalla.”

Do you think other competitors have prejudices against you because you’re a woman?

From the moment I would rap with my friends in the car, my [male] friends always found it really cool. But then when it comes to competition, they see me as an easy target. And that actually happened with a friend at a battle a couple of months ago. He chose me and another girl for the first round. And it was obvious why he chose us. But I remember that day was the first time that I actually won. And I don’t think a lot of people think I can do that. And maybe I don’t have the same practice—not the same dedication because that I have [that], I promise. I focus, I practice, I meditate. I try. I do so much inner work so that I can come out and give out the best of me so that everybody can absorb really good positive energy out of me.

Are there any other challenges of being a Latina in the rap battle?

I’m not used to being insulted. I’m used to being treated with a lot of respect because of how I stand in my community. But when you go up to the ring, you go up to Batalla, they come at you with all the things that you’ve fought your entire life not to be identified as. They come at you, telling you that you belong in the kitchen, telling you that you belong in the house. There’s no boundaries. There’s no rules.

As a woman, what do you hope for in the next Batalla seasons?

Oh my God, to see more women. I really hope that I’m up here getting my ass roasted to encourage other women to come out.

This is your second time competing in the Batalla qualifiers. What’s different than last year? How’d you prepare this time?

Last year, I let my impostor syndrome get to me. I didn’t even get my outfit until the day off. I didn’t buy my train ticket until the night before. This year, you know what I did? I traveled more. I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot more. I networked more. I battled more. I practiced more. I changed a lot of lifestyle and habits. I started going to the gym so that whenever I’m on stage, I can actually hang moving the audencia while not losing my breath and being able to end strong on a bar.

Anything else you’d like to include?

There is no such thing as “girls are not freestylers.” When you’re very secure about yourself, [and in] anything in life, ain’t nobody going to tear you down.