THEHPHOPDIVA.COM spoke with Deena Jonez about the inspiration for her name and the legacy of female rappers. Here’s what she had to say.
HHD: Your bio states that you are keeping the legacy alive of true female emcees. Can you tell us what that legacy is? What exactly are you keeping alive?
DJ: Just keeping alive good music. Right now if a female is rapping about degrading herself or rapping about things that are inappropriate, no one really wants to hear it right now. Back when MC Lyte was here, when Queen Latifah was doing it, they didn’t have to do that. People just respected them as an artist. People respected them like they respected any artist male or female. I’m keepng that legacy alive.
HHD: You say you are staying true to the artform. How do you see yourself doing that?
DJ: I pretty much stay true to it by speaking real, speaking what I go through and things that are real to me.
HHD: What about Deena in Dreamgirls inspired you so much that you decided to change your name?
DJ: I started out as a battle rapper. From there I was working with a label and I just felt like I couldn’t really express myself. I felt like at the time I had to be a certain kind of rapper. I left the label and I wanted to change my name and I wanted to rap about the things I wanted to rap about. The label I started working with at the time, they wanted a certain kind of rapper also. They wanted someone that could be crossover and could appeal to everyone. I felt like that movie was pretty much my story as an artist. Deena Jones was the artist that had the voice for everyone. I felt like that’s what they wanted me to be. So I named myself Deena Jonez.
HHD: What made you want to do a mixtape comprised of remakes from Janet Jackson’s “Control” album?
DJ: I’m a huge fan of the Jacksons period. That music was music that I was listening to everyday like it was music that just came out. I felt like people my age weren’t even on to that kind of music. When I would talk to people that were 20, 19, 18, 21 and I would say things like “Pleasure Principle” or talk about songs like that they wouldn’t know what songs I was talking about. It was kind of crazy being that hip hop, you know, it takes this music. All the old music they take it then they remake it. I felt like people in hip hop should know where hip hop came from.
HHD: What do you think has caused the female emcee to fall off?
DJ: I think it has a lot to do with people saying things they think people want to hear. I guess this could go for everyone, but I think female artists are the main ones that get hurt from it. I feel like we should just be ourselves. If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work.
HHD: What are you personally going to do to bring the female emcee back?
DJ: I’m just gonna be myself. I’m gonna do the things that I want to do as far as music goes. Whatever I feel at the moment, I do. I don’t jump on any wagons or anything. It’s whatever I like at the time. Hopefully that’ll bring the female emcee back, me just being an artist.
HHD: Who are your favorite rappers and why?
DJ: I like every female rapper that ever came out. It’s just a respect thing from me. Those are my favorite rappers because I feel like they paved the way for me. I like MC Lyte. I like Queen Latifah. I like Jay Z because one, he’s from Brooklyn, I’m from Brooklyn. Not only is he a good artist, he’s a smart artist. That’s someone I would like to pretty much mimic myself as . Eve, at the time that she came out she was in the middle. She wasn’t too raunchy but she was raunchy enough. She made songs for women.
HHD: Who would you say are the top three female rappers and why?
DJ: Queen Latifah, Lil Kim or Foxy one or the other, and probably Eve. At the time they stood out in the game. Good or bad, when Lil Kim and Foxy were out they stood out. They had their own style. Now everyone is trying to do it.
HHD: What are you working on right now that we can be on the lookout for to support?
DJ: I’m actually going to be releasing cd’s every month. This month it’s “Back 2 The Notebook”, then “Confessions of a Shopaholic”, the next month “Cadillac Music”. It’s all building up for the album I want to release. They’re all going to be mixtapes available for free.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
DJ: Someone that’s out for theirs. Someone that’s standing out not because they’re trying. Someone that knows what they want and doesn’t let the industry take control of them.
Check out Deena Jonez at www.deenajonez.com.