"You mean to tell me that you think I don't know that I ain't black?
Or that I don't know that usually Latin girls ain't really been all up in rap?
I didn't know that my color or gender could be the preventer of getting on tracks
See the last time that I checked they play hip-hop in the hood
And I dare you to find a hood with no Latins in it because I don't think that you could."
Almost two years ago, Rocks Off featured a promising California-raised, Texas-based MC Snow Tha Product. According to her management, Rocks Off was the first major media outlet to write about her. Back then, we wrote:
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.
Yeah, not much has changed since then, except that one major label, Atlantic Records, wised up and recently signed Snow, making her one of the first -- possibly the first -- Mexican-American female hip-hop artist ever signed to a major record label.
Rocks Off talked with Snow Tha Product and her Houston-based management team, David Gaona and Jessica Martinez of Street Science, about how Snow managed to stand out enough from the saturated Texas underground-rap scene to be spotted and signed by a major label.
Rocks Off: Jessica, it didn't feel like Snow played the "Latino" card in her rise to signing with Atlantic, but she never really shied away from talking about the Arizona controversy or making tracks that made political statements. It's as if she identified with her heritage, was proud of it, but didn't allow it to encompass her or her career. That's a hard line to walk, no?
Jessica Martinez: I think our team and Snow just honestly realized someone has to take on the challenge that our community faces in the music industry. Yes, it's a very hard line to walk, but at the end of the day, you just have to trust and know the solution is just to be yourself. In all reality, Snow is just an artist that happens to be Mexican-American.
Yes, she's proud to be Mexican. Yes, she might speak on political issues that impact her life, but this isn't something we want to define her. Hip-hop, to us, just means to be real through musical expression, talking about real trials in life, what the artist is feeling or going through.
Snow is just a real chick talking about her life. To be Latino in this industry is not a path many have traveled, but I think Snow is definitely up for the challenge.
RO: Snow, there's the obvious wave of female MCs getting deals and people tend to talk about it as a trend or the "in thing" this year and last. How do you ensure you have longevity past a perceived trend in the industry?
STP: I honestly just have to focus on my career and what my team and my fans want. I can't focus on other chicks, because I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of male rappers. If the amount of successful male rappers got to all the guys in this game, most of them would quit.
I mean, they don't worry about other guys. I don't see why it should be any different with girls. Yeah, there are a lot of girls coming up in the game. But my efforts are years in the making. It's not an overnight thing, so I will just continue on my path.
RO: The Atlantic deal feels like an exciting new chapter that has to shift your perspective on what's possible for your future. What are your goals going into this new exciting part of your career?
STP: I think the only things that changes are the possibilities. I have always been indie and funded all my own stuff. And as a female, that can get hard.
At this point, I feel that with someone like Atlantic I can still keep that indie feel, but I can do more than what I have been doing. A lot of people think that's it. You made it. And that's not the case.
If anything, the grind just got even tougher because I added people to my team, and I have to make sure, that just like there are more people now, there is also more success ahead to keep us all happy.
RO: How did the Atlantic deal come about? My understanding from our talks is you guys didn't jump at the first label that wanted to sign Snow. Why is that?
David Gaona: We felt Snow had a really good buzz and we got a vision for what she could become, so the more attention she got, the more people where calling about her situation. After talking with a few labels, we just wanted to make sure we got the best situation we could out of it.
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Our primary goal was to find a partner that would take her to the next step of her career, while still keeping her brand intact. Atlantic Records, in the end being our choice, offered a partnership where we were able to keep previous masters, and brands.