Snow Tha Product Asserts The Legitimacy Of Latinos In Hip Hop
Exclusive: Snow Tha Product details her re-release of "Good Nights & Bad Mornings: The Hangover," which includes features by Tech N9ne, Lupe Fiasco and others.
San Jose native, Snow Tha Product is one of the few Mexican-American female rappers to be signed to a major label, and she comes up in an era of new wave female Hip Hop artists including Iggy Azalea, Angel Haze, and Honey Cocaine. After gaining a multitude of fans and a great deal of recognition through her online presence, Snow signed to Atlantic Records in 2012 and plans to release a debut studio album next year.
“Let me be abundantly clear. She is one of the sickest artists out right now, if not the sickest. There’s no match. No equivalent,” praised Cuban rapper Mellow Man Ace, brother of Cypress Hill member Sen Dog. “She’s got looks, style, the ability to spit, stage presence, and concepts…all of these things show she has what it takes.”
While contending the realities of being a Latina rapper in the game, Snow recollects her experiences making music with artists Tech N9ne and Dizzy Wright. From parties to heartbreak, Snow, through her music, touches on topics that are universally felt while still executing every track with impressive technical skill. To top it off she even built her own first home recording studio… all by herself.
Snow Tha Product Talks About Life Before Signing To Atlantic
HipHopDX: You’ve moved around a lot...from San Jose to San Diego and now Texas. What’s it like being in Dallas/Fort Worth area? How’s that affected your music?
Snow Tha Product: I love San Jose. If it was up to me I would’ve stayed in the Bay forever, and San Diego’s tight too with the weather and everything. But it was expensive as hell, so Texas looks like the cool place to live. I make music in my room, so it doesn’t matter too much where I am, as long as I’m workin’. People are cool, and it’s real mellow. It’s affected me because I got influenced by the scene in different places. In the Bay the way you rap is kinda more aggressive…they way I say, “Bitch” is very influenced by the Bay. In Texas it’s on some chill shit.
DX: What went down between you and Disney? Do they really have “Snow White” copyrighted? What’s the story behind your stage name “Snow Tha Product?”
Snow: They are assholes! They steal people’s fairytales, take the name and don’t want anybody to be remotely close to it! They own “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Snow white is like brick red…it’s a color. I didn’t wanna deal with that. You have to have a lot of money and shit, so I kept Snow Tha Product. I’m just gonna change my name to nothing…to a fucking sign [laughs]. My name’s Claudia. I didn’t have a Rap name. People said Claudia wasn’t gonna work, so my friend said, “Let’s be princesses.” It’s a stupid-ass story. My only options—‘cause I have black hair—was Jasmine, Pocahontas, or fuckin’ Snow White. I was like, “I’ll just take Snow White...whatever.” That’s where it came from. Somebody added on “Tha Product,” ‘cause they were explaining how the music business is. The music is the product, and you have to push it. You can’t just be good; you gotta push this shit.
DX: When did you start rapping?
Snow: It’s weird, ‘cause when I was a little kid I thought I was gonna be this super famous singer. But I got that outta my head for a long time, then I started liking Rap. Around 17 or 18, I was like, “This is what I wanna do.” My mom was like, “No, you’re not…go to college.” I tried that and was like, “No, fuck that.” That’s how I started rapping.
DX: How about your first Hip Hop experience?
Snow: When I listened to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It was around the time when I had a job, and I would ride the bus with some headphones on…to hear it; it’s like a movie in your head. I just heard her actually saying something at a time when I didn’t have anybody really givin’ me advice. When I saw that void, I thought maybe I could do that—at least in the Latin community and for Latin girls. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff that they go through, and even if I don’t get super world famous, at least I know I will have that place in some people’s lives.
Snow Tha Product Affirms Her Mexican Heritage
DX: Who were your earliest influences?
Snow: Maria Felix. She’s a big Mexican actress. I’m really inspired by strong women. It’s super tight. Her, Shakira before the states, Gloria Trevi, and Lupita D’Alessio. A lot of Mexican and Spanish singers. They never took any bullshit. I always looked up to them.
DX: Was Spanish or English your first language?
Snow: Spanish. There was a time in my life when I had a really thick accent. I prolly still do, and I hear people tell me about my accent. I had a really thick one.
DX: How did you develop the track “Hola?” The opening scene is great. You turn social divide into positive festivities…what were your thoughts behind the song and video?
Snow: It’s a little bit of a play on a video by Gloria Trevi. She’s a Mexican Rock singer, and I looked up to her a lot. She’s really bad-ass. I wanted to do something similar. Her version is a lot more sexual than mine, which is more party. But yeah, she definitely had a cool video, and I wanted to do my version of it. I came up with the song just after a good party night. I was like, “Bam! I’m gonna tell the story of what happened last night.”
DX: What's it like being a Latina in Hip Hop? Does it matter to you?
Snow: Yeah, it does, because people forget that Latinos have been in this Rap thing since the beginning. Kid Frost is an OG as far as Latinos in Hip Hop go. I love B-Real in Cypress Hill and Cuban Link is dope. Mellow Man Ace spoke Spanish on a track and made it work. We have our own thing going, but Latinos make it relatable to everyone, and it doesn’t exclude anyone. I honestly listened to Big Pun the most, but obviously South Park Mexican repped hard for Mexicans. Latin folks have been involved in Hip Hop since the start, so I don’t understand why people get so shocked that some Mexican chick is really goin’ hard in it. Sometimes they are like, “Who is this girl? What is she reppin’?” We have the same struggles. I’m just bringing a different perspective to it. I think it’s awesome ‘cause you got people like Pitbull that are doin’ it big. Going Mr. Worldwide and shit. It’s cool to see that as far as Pop music goes, people can’t forget he was really spittin’ hard on his earlier stuff.
Snow Tha Product On The Re-release Of “Good Nights & Bad Mornings”
DX: Who makes your beats? Do you have a one go-to producer?
Snow: DJ Pumba. He’s who I started with in the beginning. We still work, but I definitely wanna grow as an artist, so I work with different producers. Whether they are super famous or not famous, I check my e-mail the same. So if I like it, I’ll get on it. Pumba—that’s my homie—so we keep workin’. Magnificent made “Hola,” so I’ll probably get some of his stuff for my album. Right now I’m workin’ with DJ A. I heard a lot of stuff I like, so yeah. Arthur McArthur had some really dope stuff, and Ty Dolla $ign…we got in the studio, and every beat he gave me I got on right away. It was dope.
DX: How would you describe your fan base? How do you connect with them?
Snow: They are really fuckin’ bad-ass. All the Product Pushas...shout out to all the top Product Pushas! I fuckin’ love you guys. My fans are fucking great, dude. They come out to my shows and buy me chimichangas; they always wanna smoke me out. They always wanna bring me bottles. I can’t fucking complain. I got a bracelet somewhere up my jacket…they give me stuff. I feel bad and had to tell them to stop, because they sent me this custom letterman jacket that looked super expensive. I cried on one edition of “Woke Wednesday.” They are great. I couldn’t ask for better fans. I’m happy they are following me and my career. They’re supporting me even though I’m still growing and changing a little bit tryna be better. They’re not like, “She’s sold out.” I’m really growing and tryna make cool music.
DX: I saw in an interview your upcoming project, Good Nights & Bad Mornings: The Hangover has Dizzy Wright and Tech N9ne features. What was it like working with them? How do you think their different styles compliment to your music?
Snow: Yeah, it has Trae Tha Truth, Tech N9ne, Dizzy Wright and a bunch of new songs that are just me on ‘em. I have that collab with The Cataracs. I think the one with Lupe Fiasco is on there and Ty Dolla $ign. I wanted to work with real people and not people who are just doing it for political reasons or whatever. It was just people who were interested in working with me. Tech N9ne is obviously one of the dopest emcees ever, and was willing to be on my mixtape, which is crazy. It’s really cool ‘cause I haven’t worked with many artists.
I’m like, “Oh dope, they fuck with me.” It’s cool when they tell me, “You fuckin’ killed it. I don’t know how to get on this…” That shit is really tight. Dizzy Wright and I shot a video for one of the songs, and I think Ty and I are gonna shoot a video too. Shout out to them. If you are on my mixtape, shout the fuck out to you ‘cause you’re cool. We’re re-releasing the mixtape and adding 10 brand new songs on it. So while new listeners get acquainted with me, the old fans get the latest stuff.
DX: What has been your biggest challenge being independent...then getting on a bigger label?
Snow: Everybody has opinions. When you are one of those rappers who is confident on the track, a lot of times people don’t take into consideration that we’re very personal with our music. You work hard at it, really love this song, and people are like, “Eh… whatever.” Then you’re like, “Damn. That song meant something to me, and you don’t care.” I’m not saying they do that, but there has been times—even friends of mine—where they’re like, “Eh… whatever.” It’s like you sat here and built a little sand castle and someone’s like, “I’ve seen better.” That was hard work! I’m figuring out where the line is of where I’m at right now as far as people’s opinions, taking them to heart or sometimes just taking it with a grain of salt.
Snow Tha Product Reflects On The Female Identity In Hip Hop
DX: What went into writing the song and developing the video for “Til Death?” You took a radical spin on being a woman who was broken with…
Snow: Actually my brother and I made that video. When I wrote the song I was already thinking about what I wanted to do for the visuals. It’s a little bit inspired by what I’ve gone through and a little bit going by what my homegirls have gone through. I wanted to write a song where the girl is more empowered. It’s not like, “Oh, you broke my heart. I’m sitting here so sad.” It’s like, “How fucking dare you? How can you do that shit? I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you…never mind I don’t wanna go to jail, so I’m gonna figure something out.”
DX: What do you think of female artists in Hip Hop now? Any you’d like to note?
Snow: I’m more inspired by the ‘90s with females in Hip Hop. I am big fan of Lauryn Hill, Missy…I was gonna say Queen Latifah, but business-wise Queen Latifah. Her shit is tight too. I was inspired by Eve and shit. “Love Is Blind” was really tight.
DX: What do you think of Nicki Minaj and her career choices as a female emcee?
Snow: I like her as a rapper. I’ve seen some of her interviews, and that’s what made me see a lot of her reasoning behind a lot of the stuff she does. It’s really easy to get misunderstood as a female in this Rap game. Any confidence can be taken as cocky, and any sexiness is slutty. There’s been times for me like that... I don’t sell sex, but when I take a picture with somebody they’re like, “Oh, she must be fucking him.” It’s weird. I think Nicki’s doing what she has to do to succeed in the game. I’d have to say—if we’re honest—if it wasn’t for Nicki being as successful as she is, people prolly wouldn’t be paying as much attention as they are to female rappers that are in the game right now. People have forgotten about the whole thing, so more power to her.
How Family & Education Impact Snow Tha Product
DX: How important is your mother's role in your career, or how was it in the beginning? Was she supportive?
Snow: She didn’t want me to rap. She said this wasn’t a career for me, and I needed to go to school. My biggest thing is that I wanna be successful. I wanna show her I did something right. I want to help my brother so he can be successful. Basically, by her facial expressions when I do certain stuff is how I can tell if I’m doing good in the Rap game. Expect some Spanish music from me, ‘cause she’s dying to hear it.
DX: You were originally studying social work during college. Why the change of heart to music full-time? How does that passion bleed into your art today?
Snow: I wanted to be a social worker because when my parents were going through a divorce, I got a lot of counseling and dealt with that whole program, and I thought it was tight. They should do this. There’s a lot of kids that didn’t end up going through that, so you don’t really understand all the problems that you need to work out before you become an adult and become a maniac. I was kickin’ it with my homegirl Lisa, she’s older, and Jill. They said, “You really need to do what you wanna do.” If you wanna help people and have a talent, you can show a lot of people at the same time by talking through your music. You can reach a lot of people rather than going one by one. Get big and tell them what you wanna say.
DX: Tell me about “Woke Wednesdays.” When did it start and how did it develop? I can see you doing comedy…
Snow: People get the wrong impression of me through some of my songs and the stuff they might see. So I wanted to show them how I really am. My brother was out of high school and didn’t have nothing to do so I said, “Pick a camera and roll.” It’s been developing as we go. We don’t know what we’re doing it’s just going. People keep asking for it. We stopped for two months and people were like, “When are you gonna bring it back? Where’d they go?” Now we’re back on track.