Sometimes Hip Hop can be too cool. Social media allows rappers to create fake images and champagne-money dreams of perfection. A new generation of rappers proclaims to have riches and life all figured out before their first albums drop, making vulnerability a lost art to many—except one: Scar Lip.
Born Sierra Lewis, the Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised Scar Lip began as a poet expressing her life story online. Lewis’s poetry evolved into rhyming about traumatic childhood experience(s) from her mother’s death in a hit-and-run to sexual abuse from her aunt’s (legal guardian) boyfriend to the agonies of living in multiple foster homes.
As a teenager, Lewis’s brother punched her in the mouth, leaving a permanent scar and making her feel unpretty. Until one day she had enough. “I thought I was ugly because everybody told me and because of how my lip was,” Lewis told Complex, “and I’m just like—as I grow older and older, it’s either you’re going to become your trauma, or you’re going to heal, and you’re going to own it. So, I was like, ‘I’m going to own this. I’m going to turn my pain into power.’” As a fan of Houston rapper Scarface, Lewis adopted the moniker ‘Scar Lip’ and set off to use her experiences in rhyme while raising the NYC flag.
Scar Lip built a fanhood that became connected with the Bronx MC as she shared her heartache on songs such as “Foster Care”, “Suicide Awareness”, and “Monster.” She continued to receive support online for her relatable freestyles and songs that dealt with her traumatic life experiences. However, once the humorous track titled “Glizzy Gobbler” premiered, a viral moment happened. Scar’s online momentum then served as a high-powered battery for the street Hip Hop fans when she released the now-anthem, “This is New York.” The specialty in the song is Scar’s range, as diverse as her idol, the late DMX. She recites in an authoritative tone, “This is New York, fuck I look like tellin’ a nigga good morning?”, but in the same breathe, and within the chorus she says, “Can’t you see the baddies comin’ through?” The song’s success brought respect from the hardcore fans as well as legacy artists such as Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes who join Scar Lip on the remixes.
Scar’s lyrical credibility grew when she rhymed with heavy-weight lyricists Benny the Butcher and Jadakiss[TL1] on the Swizz Beatz track “Take ‘Em Out.” As a tribute, she replicates DMX’s cadence superbly, rapping, “It’s really fuckin’ up my nerves ‘cause I’m tryna understand. / How you lookin’ in that mirror and believe that you’re a man?”
“I honestly feel like DMX sent Scar Lip my way,” said the producer on Audacy’s Hip Hop Made podcast, making Scar’s connection to Swizz feel destined. “That sister’s been through a lot, like Dog been through a lot. When you sit with her, she’s amazing and has a great heart—the same way X had a great heart. She represents the have-nots, like X represents the have-not.”
In the era of social media perceptions creating false realities, Scar Lip represents the authenticity of struggle. But she is transcending the tragedies of her past and transforming those experiences into art, and this makes her the people’s MC. Scar Lip is New York City’s newest champion of the streets, and with a debut album being executive produced by Swizz Beatz, she could be Hip Hop’s next chosen one.
Click HERE for Scar Lip playlist.