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"I'm like the only Latin woman in hip-hop," declares radio personality/rapper Angie Martinez. Hmmm, what about fellow Puerto Rican rapper Ivy Queen? "Maybe this will make it easier for her," Martinez concedes. "Her time hasn't come yet."
Martinez believes in the importance of role models, so maybe that's why she takes a bite from Lisa Lisa ("I Wonder If I Take You Home") on her single, "Take You Home." The New Yorker confesses that she kept a framed autograph she scored from the Eighties Puerto Rican diva on her wall as a teenager. "I straight up wanted to be Lisa Lisa when I was fourteen," she laughs. "Watching her on the TV, she looked like someone that would be in my family. She was the only Puerto Rican on television. When there's not a lot of people that are from where you're from, chances are you're gonna touch somebody."
All grown up and recording her second solo album, Martinez remembered her teen idol when she was stuck writing a song. "I did the rhymes to that song first," she says. "I was trying to figure out what to do with the verse and I just thought of that song." To pay tribute properly, Martinez ended up inviting Lisa Lisa down for a cameo at the "Take You Home" video shoot.
But where Lisa Lisa's lyrics were hesitant about taking a potential lover home, Angie Martinez makes no bones about taking what she wants. "It's a different time now. Women are a little more assertive. They know what's good for them, what they want."
What Martinez really wanted from Animal House, the followup to her debut Up Close and Personal (2001), was a chance to improve on the often awkward flow of her first effort and prove she can really rap. "For the second album, I was dying to use what I learned," she says. "I learned what beats I sound better on and to control my voice more. I know how to place myself in the beat better. How to make a beat move. It's just practice."
If that's true, we may have to wait through a few more releases before Martinez is flowing proper à la Eve, Trina, or Missy. In the meantime, Martinez is more about what she has to say than exactly how she's saying it. "The first time I felt like a kid," she reveals. "It's all stuff from past experience. This album was like now. Right now. It's a lot more aggressive."
And what about all those rumors that she owes her career as a rapper to her clout as a disc jockey in the NYC market? "People think it's easier being on the radio, but it's harder," she huffs. "If I wasn't on the radio I would have been able to hit the road. To really promote the album." As it is, Martinez says she's exhausted. "Very rarely do I get to hang out, just hang out," she laments. "We shot a video for 23 hours in a row. Right after the video, I went to the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Then I went to the after party. They had to rush me to the hospital. Your body can only do so much."
But exhaustion won't keep her away from this weekend's first Urban Latin Music Festival. "The people here show me so much love," she explains. So when fellow New York City DJ Tony Touch invited Martinez to co-host the festival on Columbus Day, she says she told him, "Miami, sure. Let's go."