Members: Stephania Ayiotou
Raíces: Colombia via Cyprus
Sounds like: A seesaw ride between dank trap and emotional R&B.
You should listen to Stefficrown because…you just need to know what Cypriot-Colombian trap sounds like.
The stars must have aligned for a Cypriot singer-rapper to become a Colombian trap newcomer. Stephania Ayiotou started her journey outside of her parents’ home when she was only 16 years old and, after traveling around the world, she found her way back to her mother’s hometown of Cali, Colombia, four years ago (she spent a short period of her childhood there). After getting drawn into the city’s hip-hop and R&B scenes, she went on to become Stefficrown.
Although she has been writing poetry and lyrics since she was seven, and playing in rock and thrash bands since she was 13, she pinpoints her first experience freestyling back to a visit to LA’s Comedy Store on comedy rap night. “When the host asked who in the audience knew how to rap, my mom pointed at me without me knowing,” Ayiotou recalls. “I got pulled up onstage while the DJ dropped the scratch beat. I felt everything was in slow motion as I was riding a wave of adrenaline, mic in hand. I started spitting rhymes, and there one of my nicknames was born – La Grecolombiana. I don’t really remember what else I said, but everyone got up and cheered.”
But after growing bored of LA hip-hop, she fell back in love with the genre in Cali, as she became acquainted with the local scene. “I always loved hip-hop, but I always had so much respect for it, I never thought it’d be what it is to me nowadays,” she says. “I started getting involved as a rapper on the Cali streets, at Jovita Park, meeting the street rappers who opened the way for me to [enter] street battles and invited me to recording studios.”
She took time to develop her craft, and self-released her debut EP earlier this year, titled Closing Lights. Produced by Bogotá’s Stornelli, it consists of two tracks and remixes: a seductive R&B side, and a more aggressive rap one. The title track is a bittersweet ballad about a relationship that’s gone sour, as Stefficrown’s voice dances on a melancholy melody over moody synths. Meanwhile, she takes no prisoners on “Figlia Di Papa,” a multi-lingual trap adventure with a hint of dancehall, punctured by crunchy brass stabs and a dense beat. Closing Lights ends with two remixes by Imaabs and Teklife’s DJ Hank, who give “Figlia Di Papa” their personal touches; dembow riddims and vertiginous deconstructed footwork reign.
Ayiotou is also distinguishing herself as a curator in Cali’s hip-hop scene, after launching and promoting a trap street party series called Trapicali with her crew 3DWorld Kingsz. Ayiotou has tapped local twerk and krump dancers for the series. “Being and striving as an independent artist in Colombia isn’t easy, but we celebrate our own music, our own clothes and videos, all done by ourselves. We won’t let the police take over the streets, because what we make is culture,” she affirms.
She might have been born in Cyprus, but Stefficrown got her tumbao straight from her Colombian roots. Keep an eye on this newcomer, as Closing Lights is just the beginning for her.