Hip-hop artist Sonya Tomlinson, better known as Sontiago, is the real deal. Her rhymes are whip-smart, her voice is distinct, and her feet are firmly planted here in Portland.

With help from a few friends — both new and old — Sontiago is back with the maxi-single “Muscle Car.” With remixes and a B-side, it’s a six-track affair that is 19 minutes of pulsating, dance-inducing joy.

GO invited Sontiago to put her mic down just long enough to catch a few questions that we threw at her. We got schooled about the making of “Muscle Car” and one of its driving forces, musician Therese Workman.

Can you break down “Muscle Car?”

The beats on the maxi-single were made by Canadian producer Ango. When we originally connected for a week in Montreal to share ideas and production, it was important that I knew what came to mind, or what visions he had for the beats he was lending to this project. When he gave me the beat for “Muscle Car,” he said when he was making it that the imagery of a guy driving a muscle car kept coming to mind. So sparked the idea of this player who’s bluff is being called by a girl who was once lured in by him and his car, but over time becomes brave enough to call him out on the fact that his game is getting old.

The remix is by Anticon recording artist Alias, a Hollis, Maine, native. I don’t want to embarrass him by bragging, but the guy is internationally known, has toured all over the world, sold a decent amount of records, and has worked with a range of artists. We’re really lucky that someone as talented, hard-working and humble calls Portland home — it totally ups our value.

Therese Workman worked with you on “Muscle Car.” Can you tell us about her?

Where do I start? She’s a dreamboat of a human, an incredible musical mind and driving force behind the final product. Therese is from Waterville, though we met in Portland when her all-girl band, Ramblin’ Red, played a show at Space.

She was living in Portland at the time, but has since moved to NYC, where she works as a fellowship adviser at Columbia University. She is one-half of the brilliant duo Oh My Goodness. They make songs infused with humor, future-pop, R&B and a healthy dose of “The Cosby Show.” She can play a lot of instruments, but I would say synths and keys are her specialties.

So what else have you been up to?

Next month, I begin my new position as grants and outreach manager at the Maine Women’s Fund, where I’ve been employed for a year and a half. I’m still on the event staff at Space Gallery (in Portland). We just celebrated our 10th anniversary, and I am really proud of being a part of that success. This past spring, I was busying myself as a teaching artist at the Telling Room (in Portland), where I paired up with local filmmaker David Meiklejohn to create a series of short biographical films from 15 area teenagers, who all relocated to Maine from other countries. It’s called “The Whole World Waiting.”

From your perspective, how has the hip-hop scene in Portland evolved over the last five to 10 years?

I think the hip-hop scene, though it still has its active veterans, is best carried by younger people who have the fresh eyes and ears, time and hunger to breathe new life into it. I thought that when I was one of those young people, and I think it now, a decade later.

Nate Shupe and Jesse Wagner of local hip-hop group Ill By Instinct are instrumental in keeping Rap Night alive (at The Big Easy nightclub). If it weren’t for the hip-hop open-mic night where I got my start in Portland, I wouldn’t be nearly as connected or active as I am today. The scene needs that outlet. I’ve seen it move from Stone Coast Brewing to Free Street Taverna to The Big Easy. It’s essential, so I’m really glad to see it still around.

As far as being a scene that makes national waves, I don’t see us there. I simply don’t think we have the capacity in a city this size. For us to have something comparable to Doomtree or Rhymesayers, both out of Minneapolis, we would need more numbers to create that kind of impact. But per capita, I think we’re doing above average in the hip-hop activity department. It’s all about maintaining a support system, which I think Portland has been consistently good at.

What’s the best online home for you and place to buy the maxi-single?

Endemikmusic.com or facebook.com/sontiagomusic, and you can buy “Muscle Car” through iTunes or Bandcamp.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

[email protected]

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