Haviah Mighty | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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Haviah Mighty

Haviah Mighty, rapper, musician, songwriter, producer (born 18 December 1992 in Toronto, ON). Haviah Mighty is one of Canada’s best young rappers. She is known for the intensity of her performances, her politically charged lyrics and for addressing issues of systemic injustice. Her first studio album 13th Floor (2019) won the Polaris Music Prize, making Mighty the first Black woman and first rapper to win the prize. She also became the first woman to win the Juno Award for Rap Album of the Year when her mixtape Stock Exchange (2021) won in 2022.

Early Life and Education

Haviah Mighty, which is her birth name, was born into a musical family in Toronto. She and her five siblings took piano lessons together in Scarborough when she was a child. She began singing at the age of four and rapping at the age of 11.

Mighty’s family is of Jamaican heritage. (See Caribbean Canadians.) She experienced both causal and direct racism as a child growing up around the Gerrard Square area. She remembers the police arriving after neighbours complained about too much piano playing. She has recounted feeling constrained as a child, with parents trying to shield her from racist neighbours and a public school that saw her as a problem child.

Mighty has described moving to Brampton as a pivotal moment in her life. The move allowed her more freedom, and she enjoyed her new school and thrived academically.


Early Career and The Sorority

Haviah Mighty started producing music at the age of 15. At 17, she released her first mixtape, No Studio (2010). She followed it with the EPs #Eighteen (2011) and Dominant 7eventh (2013) and another mixtape called Bass Loud (2015). In 2016, she won first prize in the So You Think You Can Rap Canada contest and performed at the Canadian National Exhibition’s Rising Star Challenge.

Already popular in Toronto’s hip-hop scene and getting college radio airplay, Mighty and three other female rappers issued a one-off track recognizing International Women’s Day in 2016. The politically charged and defiantly feminist track attracted critical acclaim. The four rappers then formed The Sorority and released their first album, The Pledge, in 2018.

Also in 2018, Mighty won the Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class award at the Juno Awards. This was largely on the strength of her EP Flower City (2017), named after Brampton’s nickname. Standout track “Vamonos” was featured on the HBO series Insecure. By spring 2019, Mighty had opened for acts such as Nelly, Snoop Dog and A Tribe Called Red (now The Halluci Nation).


13th Floor (2019)

On her debut LP 13th Floor (2019), Haviah Mighty collaborated with her sister Omega Mighty, who provided a reggae-infused spin on the hit single “Wishy Washy.” Omega also helps her sister as a choreographer and makeup artist. Mighty’s little brother Mighty Prynce produced several tracks on the album.

A meditation on injustice, including the history of enslavement in North America and the effects of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, 13th Floor won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize. Mighty became the first Black woman and first rapper to win the award. The track “Thirteen” was also shortlisted for the SOCAN Songwriting Prize in 2020, while the music video won the $20,000 Prism Prize for its director, Theo Kapidistrias.


Stock Exchange (2021)

Haviah Mighty followed 13th Floor with the mixtape Stock Exchange (2021). Exclaim! magazine’s Veracia Ankrah wrote that it “is inspired by both the sound and political messaging of reggae” and that the “mixtape is all politics and growing pains; over 12 songs, she attempts to make sense of a global pandemic, unemployment and a racial reckoning.” In her review, Rolling Stone’s Brenna Ehrlich called Mighty “A true storyteller.” In 2022, Stock Exchange won the Juno Award for Rap Album/EP of the Year, making Mighty the first woman to win the award.

Crying Crystals (2023)

Haviah Mighty’s next studio album Crying Crystals (2023) was more personal and introspective in nature, focusing on themes of relationships and lost love. In his 7.3 out of 10 review in Pitchfork, Dylan Green praised Mighty’s “inventive storytelling and eclectic beats,” as well as her “fearsome skill as an MC and narrator.”


Awards

  • First Prize, So You Think You Can Rap Canada (2016)
  • Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class, Juno Awards (2018)
  • Polaris Music Prize (13th Floor) (2019)
  • Rap Album/EP of the Year (Stock Exchange), Juno Awards (2022)