May 4, 2013— -- Carla Reyna, better known as Niña Dioz, tweeted this from New York City on Thursday: "When you go to a place and you feel like you belong (doesn't happen all the time) You can do whatever you want and no one cares #NY."
Her MC name (could be translated as...Child God) was given to her by an old lady at a cafe. Still, it hasn't been easy for this 27-year-old rapper to make a name for herself, even though her songs have been featured in the Diego Luna/Gael Garcia Bernal film "Rudo y Cursi" and she's worked with Mexican hip hop legends Control Machete.
But finally, after 10 years of hustling, Niña Dioz has come out with her first album, the self-released "Indestructible." It's on iTunes as of this week and features singer Ximena Sariñana in its title track.
Niña Dioz is in New York this weekend performing two shows. Before hoping on a bus to Philadelphia for a gig on Friday, she answered my questions via email. I've translated from the Spanglish.
1. After seeing you hustle for many years, I was surprised to learn this is your first proper album. Why now?
I've been in the game for seven years, playing at all types of venues from the most underground to international festivals with thousands of people. I was stuck on a label (Noiselab), which signed me and then they didn't want to release my album because they didn't have marketing money. But even then they didn't let me go. That was in 2009. Since I couldn't release an album, I started to give out mixtapes, which gave me exposure to new audiences who have now turned into loyal followers of my music.
Why sell an album now? Because after all these years I've grown a lot in how I write lyrics and music. People can see all this evolution in [the album] "Indestructible." It's also fair that the public can support by paying for the material they're listening to, so I can continue to finance my productions.
2. How do you deal with stereotypes of güera rapera (white female rapper.) Do you feel you're always explaining yourself?
It's something I have to deal with constantly, if there was another blue-eyed MC in Mexico maybe we could split up all the people speaking shit but since I'm the only MC güera who's generating buzz, I'm the object of all types of criticism, some of it pretty ridiculous. In Mexico there's the stereotype that if you're güero you come from a well-to-do family but what not many people know is that I've been hustling hard since I was 17. I left home and had an office job for years to pay rent and to be able to pay studio time. And I haven't stopped since. I'm the "chica mala" that left home before I turned 18 and not the "niña mantenida" many think I am.
3. You moved from your native Monterrey to Mexico City five years ago. How's the hip hop scene in el DF? Who are your peers?
The scene keeps growing. My friends with whom I hang out with and who everyone is talking about are Bastón, Eptos1, Simpson a huevo, Santa RM, etc.
4. In Latin America, you seem to get along with other leading ladies such as Bomba Estereo's Li Saumet. What do you gals have in common?
Music brought us together but what has kept our friendship going through the years is that we're pretty similar in the sense that fame has not gone up to our heads. We like going to underground clubs to hear good DJs. If we happen to be in DF or NYC at the same time, we both love going out for Asian food just as we go to a cheap taco place.
5. When did you start rapping?
I'm 27 now, time flies. When I was 17 they baptized me with the name of Niña Dioz. It's been 10 years holding on to a dream, living it every day. I never liked school, I knew I wanted to travel the world and music is the best way to travel and get to know places without paying for airplane tickets. On top of that, you get introduced to cool people and they take you out to eat, I can't complain!
6. What can we expect of this three-day "Cinco de Mayo Weekend" East Coast mini-tour? What do you say to Cinco de Mayo?
It's 3 cities in 3 days. In Miami I presented my album and it went great. I love New York and playing here is amazing, to be able to give something in return to the city that has given me so much culturally.
We'll play with live instruments, live and without a DJ, will be something different. I want people to have fun and we'll all have a blast. In Mexico we don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo so I'll celebrate how gringos do, with a lot of tequila!
Niña Dioz dates:
Philadelphia – Friday May 3, 2013 - Rogue's Gallery hosted by AfroTainoManhattan – Saturday May 4, 2013 - Le Poisson Rouge for Cinco de Gallo partyBrooklyn – Sunday May 5, 2013 - One Last Shag, hosted by La Joteria and Jem