Putting out an album of new material is only one part of the latest artistic statement by St. Paul-based Destiny Roberts. Her new project, an R&B and rap concept album called Moon Melanin Mami, also recasts her as a comic book heroine.
"I feel like I really am from another world, sometimes I feel like I'm ahead of my time," the 22-year-old said in an interview with GoMN. "Those things that the world says are my disadvantages are actually my superpowers."
The music of Moon Melanin Mami
Roberts' primarily self-produced project is a bold reflection of a luminous inner self, using the cosmos as a backdrop to a perspective-defining journey.
"Since I was little, I've always loved to stargaze and watch the moon at night," she said of the space-themed album. "For me, it's always a place of peace. I've always been infatuated with the night sky and stars."
The music features a futuristic, neo-soul vibe, blending groove-driven jazz and glitchy contemporary rap ambience. ("I only wanted it to sound crazy," she said.)
In the lyrics, she's landing and dancing on different planets; flying through space and disappearing into the ether; at peace with her true self and appreciating the gifts she's been given. The album's core is a message of self-empowerment, especially for women of color.
"When it comes to black women specifically in this society, I feel like we don't get, honestly, love from the world," she said. "It's really hard to find it. Obviously, you have to find it within yourself."
The comic book connection
Moon Melanin Mami's cover depicts her as a celestial superheroine, smiling bright as she zips through the night sky wearing a shirt that says "Music is the answer." MMM also stars in a three-part comic book of the same name, illustrated by Dave Branch and co-written by Roberts.
This is the newest in a number of projects she's tackling with her creative team 3rdWorld Music Entertainment, alongside rappers Nsikak and Radio Ahlee.
Steering nearly every aspect of her art – from the rapping, singing, and producing to the video direction and fashion design – Roberts molds her sound impeccably to depict both honesty and a mythical magnification.
"The [comic book] character is the person I am in the world I think I'm from, the extended version of me in outer space," she said. "There's this Black Girl Magic superhero that I try to bring into that, feeling like you're so divine as a person that you're not even from this freakin' planet. Not even in a cocky way, but knowing your worth and knowing who you are."
How Destiny got started
"I grew up in a really creative household," she said. "I'm the youngest of five, and all my siblings are artists. I started making beats when I was 10, I started recording when I was 10, writing when I was 10. I was singing before that, before that I was acting, drawing and painting. I started going heavy with the fashion stuff the last two years. I feel like I could apply this art to anything."
Roberts released her first project at age 13 with her older brother in his bedroom studio, writing love songs well before having ever been in a relationship. She then cut her performing teeth at St. Paul Central, taking stage in talent shows and Central Touring Theater.
She was the "miracle child" of her family, born nine years after her mother underwent tubal litigation. She has a tattoo on her wrist of a diamond with a reference to scripture about being a light for the world and her nickname, "Glitterbomb," coined by her brother at her birth.
"I really take that to heart, like I'm really here to be a light to the world," she said of her positive, heartfelt music. "I just have this light that I want to forever put out to the world. I don't wanna go dim for nobody, for no one."
Destiny Roberts hosts "Moon - A Visual Experience", the album release party for Moon Melanin Mami, at the Southern Theater on Sunday, February 26 at 6pm.