Destinee aka Maiden Dade aka Rita N. is a Dade County Hip Hop impresario, performer, recording artist and member of the THC Crew.
Crossfade recently spoke to her by email about culture, technology and the music business. All you entrepreneurs out there take note. Destinee is a focused business woman who is in the game to win it. Here's what she had to say.
"My name is Destinee and I'm from Miami-Dade County. I pretty much grew up between Southwest (Cutler Ridge, Kendall, Pinecrest) and Hialeah. Lived in Bogota, Colombia, for a couple of years as a teen, but Florida has been my home for most of my childhood and adult life."
I first fell in love with music when I was about 4 or 5. I remember
listening to Atlantic Starrs' "Always" and Kool and the Gang's
"Cherish" and thinking, "This gives me such a great feeling!". When I
met music, it was almost like "I FOUND A NEW FEELING", you understand
where I'm coming from? I daydreamed every time my favorite songs played
on the radio (And I had alot of them! lol!). We went on alot of family
trips to Orlando and such so we had a lot of time to listen to the radio
and tapes that my mother would record of her favorite music for the
ride up. I also grew up in a very Cuban family, and THEY COULD PARTY!
So, listening to salsa and merengue all night long had a serious impact
on me as well! Being that I'm so musically inclined, I've had the
blessings to have performed all over the world. I've performed
everywhere from Canada to Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, to Panama and
New York, Texas to Cali. Back in 2004 on one of my performances in the
Bahamas I had the pleasure of co-hosting a G-Unit concert alongside
"MTV- The Basement's", Big Tigga. That's where I met Tony Yayo, Lloyd
Banks, and Red Rat. It was a ton of fun.
"As operations manager of Urban Union Recording and Printing Solutions I
pretty much oversee all the day to day activities, such as ensuring
that the printing, marketing, and promotions department are running
smoothly. I also try my hardest to keep the recording studio booked as
solid as possible.
I'm also the Operations Manager over at www.305HipHop.com.
I basically delegate responsibilities and ensure that events are
covered, interviews are scheduled accordingly, and handle alot of the
advertising for the website as well. A lot of times I will help with
event coordination as well.
As far as the importance of live performance to Hip-Hop, honestly,
I dont feel that Hip-Hop would exist were it not for live performance.
I mean, put yourself in the late 70's, early 80's when Hip-Hop first
started to really become popular (in my opinion, Hip-Hop's been around
since the 50's, but that's another story). What "sparked" our beautiful
culture was blacks and latinos standing out on storefronts and the
front of apartment complexes spittin' their asses off (excuse my
french), you know, battling, performing.
I mean, that's how the
creation on Rap music came about. You can just write Rap, but then
you'd be considered a poet. You can record it, but then you'd be just a
"recording artist". Being able to enjoy and become enveloped by the
"ENTIRE" essence of Rap music (writing, recording, perspeakforming) is
incredible. Like, who the hell would want to eat Oreo's without a glass
of milk, you feel me? lol. You cannot have one without the other.
THE VEN'M PROJECT 2.5
I sometimes feel like new technology is taking away from the live
element of Rap/ Hip-Hop, especially when you get these ABC rappers and
DJ wanna-be's trying to do it, JUST TO DO IT. Using these tools because
its the cool thing to be right now. Half of them have NO CLUE what the
hell they're doing. You see that alot lately. I guess I have mixed
emotions about it because you really do have artists that partake in
the development and/or usage of these different forms of new technology
because they really love Hip-Hop and want to contribute something new
to the game. I mean, everything evolves, right? Everyone is crying
about how Hip-Hop is dead. I honestly don't feel that way. I just feel
that it's evolved and some people can't handle it, they can't "keep
up", so they use that excuse. Yes, I can agree that alot of what's out
there now a days is sheer "garbage", but it's been that way since the
beginning of Hip-Hop Culture. Not everyone has the God-given talent to
do this. Like my favorite rapper said once, "If everyone could emcee,
who would the fans be?" There's "crap" in every genre of music, in
every sport, in every "everything". lol.
Right now I'm in a very transitional phase in my career. I mean,
I continue to do collabo's and freestyles for tapes and such alongside
my THC family, but I am also focusing on an album. I have some serious
business in the works with "Big Records", so things are going to get
REAL CRAZY, REAL SOON! For now, you can listen in at
also have music playing on Mega 94.9 and La Kalle 98.3. Shouts out to
Yanesita, DJ CUBI, DJ Laz, Demis Martinez, Enrique Santos, Joe Ferrero,
Mikey Machete and family for showing us so much love! Los quiero!
Being a female rapper is bitter-sweet. It has its good and bad.
The good part of being a female rapper is that there arent too many
females doing what I'm doing and how I'm doing it (I truly love my
craft). I get alot of street love. I'm blessed. I love it when people
email me or myspace me letting me know that they love my work and
reminding me that they support me and commend me for sticking to my
grind despite the adversity. I've gotten comments like, "Destinee raps
better that 90% of the males I know". That's pretty cool. The bad part
about being a female rapper is that this industry is predominantly run
by males, so I also get alot of the, "Well, females shouldnt be
rappers" or, "Oh you don't look like a rapper." What does a "Rapper"
look like? lol. Alot of those comments come from male rappers
themselves. I just think they're scared. lol. It intimidates them to see
a woman in the industry that's really about her work and thats willing
to roll with the punches and take anything that comes her way in order
to succeed and STAY successful in Hip-Hop. The singing part I dont get
alot of crap about. I guess it's just so "cliche", so no one sees THAT
as a problem, right? lol.
One lesson I wish I knew when I started was that #1: YOU CANNOT
GET RICH OFF OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY OVERNIGHT, ladies and gentlemen! It
DOES NOT HAPPEN! #2: Female rappers have to work WAY HARDER to gain the
respect of their peers. #3: If you plan to be successful in ANYTHING
you do, be prepared to live for it, breathe it, and die for it, if need
Other ways to be involved in music are promotions, marketing,
entertainment law, artist development, music production, photography,
the list goes on and on and on. There are so many ways to contribute to
the music industry. You'd be surprised.
I've been singing since I was 5. I've been writing songs since I
was 9. Making music professionally? Since I was 14. When I first
started I was working with Julian Booth (Slip N Slide Records), who was
working as the A&R of Luke Records then. I was a jitter bug then.
:). Been rapping for about 6 years now. Ten years from now, I'd like to
be making music still. Possibly some artist development. I worked with
an R&B girl group called U4ea (Euphoria). One of the girls was Pat
Riley's (Miami Heat Coach) daughter and the other two I really grew a
tight bond with (shouts out to Vicky!), and that was an awesome
experience. I did some writing, coaching, and development with them and
it was just so rewarding to see how they just blossomed as artists!
As far as the industry being the same in the future, like I said,
everything evolves. I dont believe it will be the same. Who knows?
Example: we went from 8 tracks, to tapes, to records, to cd's, to
hard to find a tight knit group of people who share the same dreams and
aspirations and can maintain focus til the goal has been
accomplished. I've been blessed to find a bit less than a handful, but
that's all I need. Some people live their entire lives trying to find
that one person that believes and supports them and never do.
I want to give a shout out to my best friend and partner, UB (the Apex) for always supporting EVERYTHING I DO! Te quiero. www.305HipHop.com, Fillup Banks, I love you cuzzo!
My Big Records family, Rico & Carlos- Thank you for EVERYTHING. Your
support in priceless. Here's to a beautiful new beginning! Let's get it! Headz Up Barber Shop- Juice and the boys: Thanks for always supporting me. Hugs. DJ's R&R, Mega Mix, As One, Heron & Kane, DJ Laz- You guys are the best!"
Want more Destinee? Log on to www.myspace.com/MaidenDade