JV, Hip-Hop Queen, Still Shines Her Light


Jennifer Velarde etched her initials into hip-hop history as the first Chicana rapper to ever put out an album. Signed to Thump records, JV hit the scene in 1994 with her first single (and title track to the album) “Nayba’hood Queen.” Backed by the subwoofer-stressin’ bass beats throughout, the rapper displayed a dynamic, youthful and high-pitched voice that skillfully delivered her lyrics in a manner comparable to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC. Looking every bit like Selena Quintanilla’s hip-hop prima, JV’s music video for “Nayba’hood Queen” is vintage early ’90s rap fare, with oversized baggy pants, low rider bikes, and hydraulic hoppin’ cars.

She followed up her initial effort with It Gets No Reala in 1996, a compilation album in 2001, and her last studio effort Lady Bug, which dropped in 2002. It wasn’t until late-2008 that JV would reappear, this time as a guest MC on Lady Synful’s The Resurection mixtape. JV dropped a defiant track entitled Who’s Back that once again showcased her penchant for wordplay and emphasis-accentuated flow. Now based in Whittier, the Chicana rap history maker is hanging low-pro, but still recording new

The Weekly spoke with JV to see what’s up with the new songs she uploaded to her Myspace page and what the future may hold for her musically:

OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): How did your new G.D. Hill-produced songs –“1 Trick Pony,” “Boom Clack,” and “Shine My Light”–come about?

JV: I hadn’t seen my producer in about three years. He ran into my mom, gave her his phone number and we just started working. We’ve known each other and worked on and off for about maybe ten years or so. I have a little studio at my pad, so I basically just load up the beats and record myself. It’s not always easy when you don’t have your peers around you giving that constructive criticism or just hyping you up, giving you inspiration, motivation, pushing you forward–it’s definitely a different experience. At the same time, there’s a whole new type of freedom you feel when it’s just the mic, the beat, your lyrics and you. You’re free to experiment and try things people might think you’re crazy for doing. There are no inhibitions and you don’t need anyone’s approval.

You’ve been noted for your talented flow and the way you present yourself lyrically. In that regard, how did you approach this new material and what do you plan to do with it?

I just write what I feel. Sometimes I manipulate the beat and sometimes the beat manipulates me. It’s a strange give and take. As far as what I’m going to do with the songs, I have no idea. I don’t really have
the resources to mix, master, press up CD’s or get pictures done. I guess I’ll keep throwin ’em up on Myspace just for the hell of it, mixed or not. I’m kind of at the point where I just don’t care what happens as long as I’m making music. Everybody and their mama wants to be a recording artist with a deal, plus the fame and fortune. I just want to be heard and appreciated for my artistic contributions, even if it is only by my 200 Myspace friends. [laughs.]

Do you have a particular favorite among the new tracks?

“Shine My Light” is actually one of my favorites. I’m proud of that one. It has a certain swag to it. I have other stuff in the lab that can top that lyrically but, as far as a drunk with it delivery and over all pimp-ish feel, it does something for me that makes me smile.

As a pioneer for Chicana rap, times have definitely changed. Do you think some hip-hop heads won’t go with flow of the new JV?

I’m sure some of them won’t dig my shit. A lot of people want the old “Nay’ ba’ hood Queen shit”, but it’s 17 years later. I’m a grown woman and a different person with different views and experiences. I call
myself “The Hip Hop misfit,” because I’m not not sure if I belong or if I’m welcomed anymore. I just don’t know if there is place for me here. My lyrical content may not be what people want to hear or what’s trendy. Too bad for them, because I won’t stop ’till I’m done and I’m definitely not done! [laughs.]

Given that, what lies in the future for JV?

JV: I’m not too sure what lies in store for me as far as the future goes. Ideally, I would love to make a living solely writing and recording music. I would love to be able to put out the best album I’ve ever
written; realistically, it might not be in the cards. When it comes to my craft, writing and delivering a rhyme, there’s always room for improvement and I really love pushing myself to become a better lyricist. It’s important to me. I guess the only thing I know for sure about my future in music is that I will continue to write and record. Whether or not people will hear me or feel me, who knows…it’s
all up in the air. I only write to beats that speak to my soul and I only write what my soul speaks.

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