Talk a little about your Filipino roots and heritage.
My parents are both Filipino. I was born in Manila and we left to San Francisco at a very young age, so I am an interesting balance between 1st generation immigrant and 1st generation American. I speak both English and Tagalog, enjoy Filipino food, and know my American and Philippine history. I still have some very Filipino traits because I was raised in a Philippine, but I am still too American for my parents and the rest of my family, which is something unique to immigrant children. I'm very proud of my heritage.
There is a lot of talk about disadvantages females have in the rap game, what are some of the advantages you all have?
I think an advantage we have is solidarity. I know it seems the opposite in light of the Nikki - Kim beef, but, in actuality, most independent female artists push each other to do better, and support one another, while female fans show so much love. I think we’re all just involved in this movement, and recognize that, if we don’t show each other love, how can we expect love, and how can we expect men in hip hop to recognize us as an important force in music?
What are you most proud of on your latest EP, Dulce Vita?
I set out to make Dulce Vita on my own, meaning no other features. Aside from a friend, Knickerboc, singing on a couple of the hooks, the whole album is completely written and performed by me. I think I had to prove it to myself that I can complete an album on my own.
What do you remember most about your performance at Fresh Café last year, your time in Hawaii and the Hip Hop scene you were exposed to?
The most memorable part of my performance last year was probably standing on a table, kicking it over and cutting my leg open. It was awesome. Then, I lost my voice for about a week after the show, met up with my homegirls on Big Island, and spent the week in silence with them on the beach. That was amazing. I also met some HI MCs, who, not only spread the aloha, but really welcomed me into their family. That a city as glamorous as Honolulu also has their own grassroots movement of underground hip hop is really important, and it did introduce me to the unique struggles of the Hawaiian people.
What are some of your personal goals as an emcee? Where does inspiring young pinays rank about those goals?
Personally, I want to have a body of work that reflects my growth as an individual and really represents me as a person. I want to make sure that I can listen to it and, since music is my main outlet to document my story, it plays like a soundtrack to my life.
What is the dopest, most sincere thing a fan has ever done or said to you?
I have so many awesome fans, and, whenever they show me love, I always really appreciate it. Recently, I have a show in Sacramento, which ended up being a 3-hour drive through all kinds of rain and horrible rush hour traffic. When we finally got to the venue, we were all raggedy and tired, but, after the show, a fan came up to me and said he traveled from San Jose, which is even further from Sacramento than San Francisco. It just floored me someone would drive 4-5 hours in that same traffic just to see me for 15 minutes. Puts real meaning in the phrase, ‘The show must go on’.
Where did you get that turntable ring, how long have you been wearing it?
Wow, you are observant! I’ve had that turntable ring for 4 years now. I got it during promoting my first album, The Diamond Dame
Has their ever been a time that someone underestimated you skills completely and you took pride in showing that naysayer(s) what was up?
I think that being plagued with naysayers and doubters is something that every artist, myself included, faced on a regular basis. Rather than focus on proving them wrong, I think that I take pride in showing myself what I am capable of. There will always be a hater; the key is to be so secure in what you’re doing, you can’t be bothered by someone who doesn’t understand your vision.
I notice that you have your share of tattoos, talk about your tats, there meanings and which one means the most to you?
I have quite a few, but my most meaningful one to music is my “Dame” with a diamond that I have on my mic hand. The Diamond Dame is my first album, and I got it right before I did Paid Dues.
What would it take for a female MC to get to the level of a Jay-Z, Lil Wayne or Kanye
West? Do you think that day will ever come and is it even important for a female to achieve such a level of respect?
I think that there is too much focus on an artist’s gender in order for a woman to ever “be on Kanye or Jay-Z’s level”. Once we look past gender, we’ll see that there are a lot of women who are at the caliber, we just can’t blur that one line that keeps us separate from them. Lauryn took home 8 Grammy’s for her first solo album; whereas, Jay-Z’s first solo album was “Reasonable Doubt”.
We are close to the halfway point of the year, what’s next for you during the remainder of 2011 and what should your fans (and new fans that you are sure to make in Hawaii) be on look out for?
I’m gearing up for the rerelease of Dulce Vita. It had such a good response, that I decided to rerelease it with 3 new songs, one of which is “Be a Lady”. That video has been getting a lot of love, too, so, I guess I’ll have to do another one. LOL… But, there’s Dulce Vita, then my full length, Raw Gems, and a grip of shows, so stay tuned!
Last words, shouts, plugs?
Gigantic shout out to Hawai’i for showing us so much aloha! Love to 3Rok for bringing me and Snayk Eyez out, my girl Drea, DJ Bone of KTUH, Professor Rod of UH and everyone who made April 16th so amazing! Shout out to 808 hip hop- Creed Chameleon, Prolific Unknowns, Prie, Ill Hill, Broke Mokes and everyone else… We’ll be back!!!