Fresh off performing at a slew of shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas, last month, the rap upstart is back in the studio crafting material for her new mixtape as well as her major label debut album. She's also leading her own movement (she's the head of her imprint Product Entertainment, and leads the Product Pushas street team).
Read on as the southern spitter, who's of Mexican heritage, divulges her favorite MCs, the "normal" things she does like dress in animal costumes, blasts those who don't think she pens her rhymes and gives backstory to her upcoming track "Real Girl Fake World."
Before you performed at SXSW last month you were on vocal rest. What happened?
A few months back when I dropped Unorthodox 0.5 [mixtape], which a few of the tracks were really aggressive, and I had a lot of ad-libs that require me to yell. I've never had any vocal training because I rap, I don't really sing that hard. But I found out there's techniques and when you're on your vocal cords that much, you need to give it a reast, and I never really did. I was just work, work, work. Your body lets you know you need to chill out. My throat was hurting, and I let my manager know. He said I should get checked out, and it went from there. I didn't realize it was bad until I ended up on steroids, and I'm like, "what is going on?" So I was on vocal rest for three weeks, the vocal nodules came back. They doubled me up on steroids, I went to the hospital, all kinds of crap. I was on vocal rest again, and now I'm learning to manage it. I'm doing a lot better. I couldn't even talk normally. My voice was all weird, pitched and cracking.
Fill us in on some of your past projects.
Unorthodox 0.5 is a snippet version. When you're independent you really don't make money off anything, and I haven't really ever dropped albums or anything. I have a lot of fans, and I was like, "I'll drop a free version for everybody, but if you like it, support me and buy the full version." So that worked out really good because I found out how many people really support me, who were buying packages, wristbands, 2GB flash drives. It really boosted up my confidence in my music. Everyone will download tracks but not everybody will buy the mixtape. It was really good. So I did Unorthodox 0.5, and Unorthodox 1.0 is the full version.
What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on Beauty and the Beast. It's a mixtape I'm going to drop. Kind of doing a little bit more of what I've been doing on Unorthodox, Run Up or Shut Up, and all of my mixtapes before that. Basically having some more aggressive tracks and having some girly tracks. I never wanted to be pinpointed, "Oh, she's lyrical that's all she does," "Oh, she's aggressive that's all she does." I want people to know that I'm doing the pop stuff too. Beauty and the Beast right off the bat, you really know that that's what it's going to be. So working on that mixtape, and some of the tracks may be pushed onto an album.
Beauty and the Beast will be your first project for Atlantic?
What's one song on there fans can expect?
I have a song called "Real Girl Fake World." With girls, there's so much going on especially now in the information age. On the web, you see what's supposed to be cool, what's supposed to be hot. What you're supposed to look like and everything. Sometimes it's overwhelming and you feel like you're not good enough. That's what I'm representing, just being myself. It's crazy that that seems to be a new lane. It's not really a new lane, people just feel like they have to over-glamorize. People always say it takes so much more money to break a female artist because they have to spend so much money on them. Maybe it doesn't need to be that way, because there are a lot of girls that feel like they're not good enough, and they don't need to do all that extra glamor, glitz and shininess. Just represent what we are. There's always that awkward girl in the back of the class that doesn't feel like she fits in, and that's just what I am I guess.
On your song "Holy Shit," you rap, "Is she white, do she write?" You're speaking about people questioning you. Why did you put that in there?
When people see a female they think it's easier to hate on them. A lot of dudes write a female off, like, "She's whatever." And with a lot of girls, there's that hate thing going on. People are like, "You're not going to be good. You don't write your own stuff." Yes I do. Why is that so hard to believe that a female could write her own [material]? I don't get it. That's why I put that in there. And the white issue... I don't really check comments anymore because I would drive myself crazy, but before when I was really in the MySpace days, you get a lot of "Who's this?" Writing me off as whatever. Even if I was white, there are a lot of white people in the 'hood.
I'm Latina [Mexican]. There are a lot of Latin people in the hood. It's not that hard to believe I am what I am. I'm not saying I'm a gangster or nothing, but I have lived in a certain type of lifestyle that I'm representing, and it's really in my bones. I'm not saying anything that's out of the ordinary. I'm not saying I killed 45,000 people. I'm just saying I have lived there. I'm Latina, I'm proud of it. I speak Spanish. I've been doing tracks in Spanish, with underground artists in the Latin hip-hop community for a long time. That's there. On that track that's really all I wanted to do was talk about that.
Watch Snow tha Product's "Holy Shit"
Have you collaborated with any artists with a bigger name?
A lot of people have reached out to me way before everything. I went to Houston last night, I was with my manager and we were talking about rappers that I hadn't really done any tracks with or we hadn't. Juicy J, Tech N9ne, Gangsta Boo reached out. There's a lot of people who know who I am and have said my name and we talk. But I don't really know. I haven't really worked with anyone big.
Which rappers have you looked to for inspiration?
Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott. Look at them. They really didn't have to do what everyone else was doing. They got to do what they wanted to do, and come in the game, leave and come back and do whatever they want. They weren't necessarily worried that much about what people thought of them. It was more of contributing to music. And it ended up being something that was epic. Female in the rap game, being the highest-selling, obviously now until Nicki Minaj. Pop-selling. The stuff that they really represented. Missy Elliott was really writing music and putting it out there. Even if she didn't rap it she was writing for people and that's perfect. Lauryn Hill was talking about, '"Accept yourself, don't be a hard rock when you truly are a gem." Stuff like that made me keep my mind focused. There are a lot of times when you're an independent rapper when people go, "You have to do this. You have to sell. You have to do this because that's what's going to sell." Listening to that made me feel like, "Well maybe I don't." Maybe I can still be myself and not sell myself short, and still maybe make it one day.
You're a one woman show and now you're signed to a major label. How does that feel?
It's validating. It doesn't necessarily mean I made it or I've succeeded because there's a lot of work involved and I know that. I at least feel it validates me in my mom's eyes: "Maybe she is doing something." I think at the end of the day when you're looking for success you're really trying to make your parents feel like they didn't mess up. It validated me in front of my mom, so that was really cool. I got to fly her out to New York and do the whole thing so I was really happy.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
As I'm doing this interview I'm wearing a panda suit. I'm outside, on my porch right now, and I'm wearing this purple panda suit that I bought online, because I really wear weird stuff around my house, or to the grocery store. It's weird. I don't do it because it's weird, I do it because you feel different when you're a panda on the porch. It's like a $50 panda suit that I'm just sitting in, on my porch watching cars go by.
So that's regular for you?
I just don't take myself too seriously. A lot of rappers sometimes [they say], "Im lyrical, lyrical, lyrical." I'm like, "You're boring me." I need some excitement in my life. I like to do random things. It's fun. To me if this game ever stopped being fun, I'm really just going to stop. They'll be like, "Do you remember that one girl? What is she doing?" "Oh, she started having fun doing something else."
If you weren't rapping, where would you be in life?
I'm in so much stuff. Every video I do, our production does, I'm involved in. Even for other artists, merchandise, shirts and clothes, fashion and all that stuff. I do all that stuff and I genuinely like to do it. Anything creative that I can just let go is awesome. I'll do any of that.