Not too long ago, Alyona Savranenko was working as a kindergarten teacher in rural Ukraine, haunted by self doubt and dark thoughts. Today, she’s an international hip-hop star and role model for many girls (and boys). “My tracks are about people who don’t believe in themselves and why they have to change that,” the rapper says. It all started with the homemade music video to her song “Ribki,” which she posted on YouTube in the fall of 2018, becoming an instant viral sensation. Half a year later, Alyona had a whole album under her belt: Pushka, hailed by many as one of the best debut LPs of 2019. She soon signed on with Def Jam’s Polish subsidiary, which released her follow-up album Galas in the spring of 2021, featuring a international roster of guest artists.