Meet Anna Mvze, the Peruvian-American Rapper Fighting to Put D.C. on the Musical Map

Photo by Preston Martin Photography. Courtesy of the artist.

Members: Marisol Alcalde
Raíces: Peruvian-American from Columbia Heights, Washington D.C.
Sounds like: Dance-pop trap with a little azucar.

Anna Mvze is the mumbo sauce of Washington, D.C.’s music scene. Like the beloved carryout condiment of the DMV (D.C.-Maryland-Northern Virginia), the District-born artist’s sound is a delectable combination of flavors. Her almost-southern-but-not-exactly D.C. drawl raps and sings over Latin-infused hip-hop/R&B beats in songs that stir her city much like its favorite ingredient-packed relish.

The Peruvian-American rapper-singer entered the hip-hop game in 2011, back when the then-18-year-old was going by Aye Yo Smiley. Rocking crowds at local Latino festivals and rap events, it didn’t take long for her to become a D.C. fave. Currently, her latest track, “Oye (Oh Yeah),” is on rotation at WPGC – 95.5, one of the District’s leading urban radio stations, and just two weeks ago she performed alongside Messiah at the annual Fiesta DC.

While the rising emcee is celebrated citywide, few outside the nation’s capital are even familiar with her. But not for much longer. As the daughter of immigrants in one of the country’s less-talked about enclaves for Latino foreigners, she’s part of a crop of Latino artists putting D.C. on the musical map. And with a new name, fresh attitude and recently-dropped EP, Act Like You Know, the Columbia Heights native is ready to make it happen.

Anna Mvze’s 7-track project, produced by Mark Henry (Fabolous, Wale, Nicki Minaj, etc.), is a joint for the Spanglish Latinas putting their bread, ambition and joy over love. “Oye (Oh Yeah),” the first single off the EP, is an earworm about being too busy making moves to entertain haters and lurkers. In “Caught Feelings,” she fans romantic flames to watch her career blow up instead. Meanwhile, “All I Want,” a honey-sweet R&B-merengue blend, could easily become the new girl’s anthem for sex with no attachments.

The 24-year-old describes the EP as a rebirth. “I’m more myself than I ever was before,” she tells Remezcla over the phone. “When I first started doing music, I was so young, a child, and over time I gained experience and knowledge.”

Themes in her music, like female financial independence, shame-free sex and radical self-love, are becoming increasingly popular in urban genres, especially among Latina artists (Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” Becky G’s “Mayores,” Kali Uchis’ “Ridin’ Round”). But Anna Mvze isn’t simply following trends. Her bold confidence and “f**k you, pay me” perspective stem from real-life experiences of loss and deceit.

“I was hurt a lot. I surrounded myself with the wrong people and I had to start over. I have a new attitude. My guard is up. I’m independent, more focused on myself and putting myself before relationships, so I wanted to show that,” she said.

The shift in thinking is also pushing her career forward. The Peruana recently collaborated with the District’s own trapero Fuego in a remix to Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts” and is fresh off of an East Coast tour with South Central rapper King Lil G. If that’s not inspiring you to dead people who don’t serve you and focus on yourself, catch this: among Anna Mvze’s soon-to-be released tracks are collaborations with Fabolous and Lil’ Kim.

“People are gravitating toward my music more than ever before, and I think that has a lot to do with what I’m talking about, because I’m being more personal,” she says.

With close to 10 thousand followers on Instagram, D.C,’s hidden gem is ready for a national audience. Currently, she’s working on visuals for tracks off of Act Like You Know and cooking up new bangers in the studio. Everything, she tells me, is done to put on for her city and its massive, but oft-forgotten, Latino community.

“D.C.’s not seen as a music market, and I want to be one of the artists to change that,” she says. “This is where I’m from, and this is for my city.”

Stream Anna Mvze’s EP on iTunes, Google Play and Tidal.