Let us be forthcoming about 22-year-old, San Jose, Calif., native Claudia A. Feliciano. We'd put her up against any female MC in the game, and we're confident she'd give anyone of them a run for their money... or take their money. She's a versatile, bilingual lyricist who can fluently chop you up in English or Spanish, so take your pick. She has the swagger, attitude, fine-ass looks and in-your-face rhyming abilities to be a hip-hop sensation in the U.S. or Latin America, if only major labels could get their shit together. For now, Feliciano, better known to the streets as Snow Tha Product, is going to have to settle for being an international underground buzz-maker. We're not exaggerating. You can find her on anything from videos with major-label Spanish-pop sensations like Jaime Kohen, to hit rap videos in Latin America to underground Mic Passes in Texas. Initially, we didn't approach Snow for The Hot Seat because we thought she was a talented artist, although we had been jamming a track she did with Houston's Stunta, called "The Future" and we were scoping her out multiple times on the Murdaworth Mic Pass. In reality, we wanted Snow because we stumbled upon her weekly live web show she does on Wednesdays. On it, she was speaking passionately about the new Arizona law targeting undocumented immigrants that has Latinos across America up in arms. She was educating her fan base about the situation and trying to ignite their political sensibilities, and leveraging her underground hip-hop influence to inspire political movement amongst a community traditionally disengaged and disinterested in issues that directly impact them and their families. Everything we want in a Latino - excuse us - Latina, hip-hop artist. But in the process we got a close-up look at Snow as a rapper and found, well, we'll let you read and see for yourself. Meet Snow Tha Product, la reyna del hip-hop Latino.
Rocks Off: You have an interesting name. How did you come up with "Snow Tha Product"? Snow Tha Product: It used to be Snow White. Yes, like the princess. Somewhere along, "the product" was added by a former manager, who insisted my job was to be the product she was going to sell to this music industry, so, all I had to have was music. She would worry about the rest. Out of the blue, my name turned into Snow White Tha Product, which could also be seen as me being "dope." I guess it stuck, until trademarks came into play, and Disney was not too happy with me about the name. Since most people called me "Snow," we shortened it to Snow Tha Product. RO: You strike us as that girl who is "one of the guys," but all the guys think you're hot and want to get with you, but they keep quiet. STP: I've always been one of the guys. Over the years, I guess I grew up and a lot of guys took notice. I don't see myself as super hot, but as long as I keep my self-respect, I guess guys will find my confidence kind of attractive. I sure don't want to overwork for the attention.
RO: What part of California are you from? And why do you call Fort Worth home? STP: I'm originally from San Jose. I was born and raised there until I was about 10. I moved to Southern Cali and moved back and forth throughout my teen years. So I guess due to my inability to stay still, I've lived all over Cali. About a year and a half ago, I moved to Fort Worth for family reasons, and I guess it turned out to be the best career move I could have ever made. I'm proud to call Texas home. RO: You said on your live web show that the Arizona law isn't an attack on illegal immigrants but on Hispanics in general. We agree, but what are your reasons for thinking that? STP: I use my Web show every Wednesday night as a way to reach as many people as I can with my music. It's also a way to express my political viewpoints and do more than just music. Ultimately, I want to help change a lot in this world and I guess will start with this law. What does an "illegal" look like? Sure, when they asked [Arizona Governor Jan] Brewer, she chose to give the politically correct answer and say "I don't know" but I'm guessing if she was honest, she would say "brown." So I could be walking down the street speaking Spanish with a friend and be harassed? They did something like this before ... to Jewish people. They were forced to always carry identification. That didn't turn out so well. I refuse to see this continue without fighting it and I will continue to use any opportunity I get to speak on anything that effects my people.
RO: So you're obviously motivated on civil-rights issues, and you preach your insights to your fans. That much is evident, but we all know music is what influences more than anything. What are you going to do musically to inspire Latinos to begin giving a damn about things like what's happening in Arizona? STP: I'm releasing several songs, as I have been, for Latinos. I don't stick to "Chicano" rap simply because I'm Chicana. I make songs with artists from other Latin American countries, and try to make unity among all Latinos. We're all brown and we're all looked at the same way. Preaching to the choir doesn't work, so I'm interested in getting [Latinos] who aren't Mexican to care about this in order to get them to know that this is an attack on all of us. I also support other artist websites and movements to show that the best thing we can do is unite, as well as make a huge impact in this industry. Sure, a song might be cool to promote for a month, but what about the rest of the year? We should help each other out, join each other's movements, make as much noise as we can and definitely not be too scared to speak up. This is what we're here for ... to give young listeners an alternative to the route the world is taking now. RO: Do you really think you can become the future of the West Coast living in Texas? It's a tall order. STP: That's actually what I used to say before ever thinking of moving here, but it can still apply. I mean, I say I'm the future of the West Coast, because no matter what I do, I'm a Cali' girl. I'm proud of where I'm from. And I know I will make a lot of noise soon enough, so I am definitely in the West Coast's future. There is no future of West Coast's rap scene, which won't involve me. I'm too proud of my state and I'm working too hard to not at least be involved somehow. And sure, I live in Texas and I hope to be involved in the Texas rap scene, too, so I guess the move broadened my horizons. I dropped a song along with Stunta, called "The Future" because that's what I believe I am. No state lines involved.RO: What about your hip-hop style do you think separates you from other hip-hop artists? Not female, but all artists.
STP: I think I have a real "in your face" style. Sometimes I just hop in the booth and let go of my emotions, which a lot of times means a hyper style of music. I don't preach about being a gangster, but I do pride myself on being real, and a real woman has different emotions so just like you might get an aggressive "rip your head off" track, you might get a softer, "love me for who I am" song in Spanish. I am versatile and even though I've been taught the industry wants you to pick a lane and stay there, I'm too hyperactive for that. I'm going to just swang this Cadillac I call a career.RO: Being a young Latina, you've obviously seen our teenage pregnancy rate as up close as we have. Are you Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?
STP: That's a touchy subject just because there are certain cases in which I honestly feel there is nothing you could've done to prevent pregnancy - rape being the one that comes to mind. But I am definitely Pro-Life. I mean, you cant just kill a life every time your dumb ass made the mistake of "falling in love" for the night. I think young teens need to prevent pregnancy, not scramble for an easy way out once they already are pregnant.RO: What about Houston hip-hop do you respect?
STP: Growing up, I honestly respected the unity, not to say it's not still there, but it's not as out there as I wish it was. I respect the fact that Houston rap is Houston rap. It doesn't need to change to accommodate the likes of anyone. It's genuine and will always have my respect and admiration for that simple fact.
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STP: In the great words of twitter, LOL [laughs]. What I look for in a guy is maturity, stability, ambition, and productivity. A nice body doesn't hurt.RO: Will four out of five work?Follow Snow Tha Product on MySpace and catch her web shows there every Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST. You can also catch her on Twitter, and download her free mixtape, Run Up or Shut Up here. Rolando Rodriguez is the managing editor of RedBrownandBlue.com. Follow him on MySpace and on Twitter, or befriend him on Facebook.