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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Hopie Spitshard
Monday, July 27, 2009

Great female emcees are hard to find. Actually great emcees, regardless of gender, are hard to find, but it’s always been especially tough to find a dope lyrical lady. Hopie Spitshard, who hails from the Bay Area, is one of the few I would put in that class. I was put on to her in a very roundabout way. Last month I did an Artist Of The Week feature on Kaz-well and when I was making sure his MySpace link worked I noticed Hopie as one of his top friends. The combination of her look, her name and her association with Kaz-well made me click on her and I’m really glad I did (hey, MySpace does still have a use!). We got to talking, and Twittering, and she sent me a copy of her full length album, The Diamond Dame, to check out. I was impressed, which is why this week I caught up with her to find out about the history of Hopie, how being a part of two minority groups in Hip-Hop affects her, and why what she does in the bedroom is a subject you’ll never hear her rhyme about.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with the Hopie Spitshard story. Where is she from and how did she come to be the woman and emcee she is today?
Hopie Spitshard: Hopie Spitshard is Kae Hope Ranoa, a broke ass Philippine immigrant turned MC/law student. I am who I am because I've been hurled into all kinds of fucked up situations and learned to manipulate BS into art and strong personal attributes. I came from the tippy top echelon of Philippine high society - think WASP, but brown, so make your own abbreviation {laughs} - to living in cars, so I daydreamed in my room, transcribed every Tupac song to recite in the mirror, and wrote emo, teenage angst-y poetry till I found out about drugs and alcohol and home studios. {laughs loudly} I know that's the cliché Hip-Hop story, but I'm sticking to it!

Adam Bernard: Being both female and Asian you are a member of not one, but two minority groups in Hip-Hop. In what ways does this affect you?
Hopie Spitshard: Being a minority affects me in every aspect of my life; musical, professional, personal, etc., but inasmuch as how much and whether it's negative or positive, that isn't really something I can readily ascertain. I have never known life as anything other than a Pinay woman, so shit's been rough, but I'm not really sure how rough. I can, however, say that there are haters who hate on the minority groups in which I am forever inducted and my supporters love that I represent these two minority groups and constantly thank me for representing them. So fuck how others feel, I am me and I'm going to keep being me. It's a hate it or love it thing for others, but for me, it's something I can't change so I roll with people who accept that. Sorry if that was a roundabout answer, but that’s me, too!

Adam Bernard: When you were coming up were you always either the only girl or only Asian in whatever group of people you were rolling with?
Hopie Spitshard: I wasn't always the only girl, but my best friend and I were the only girls that would rap. The other girls were people's clingy girlfriends {laughs}. I always felt like one of the boys anyhow, so I never felt the great boy vs. girl divide. And, no, I wasn't the only Filipino, because I went to high school in Daly City for three years and that city is primarily Filipino. Moreover, at the time I was growing up a lot of the leaders in Hip-Hop from the area, i.e. the Daly City DJs, came out of Daly City and were Filipino, so I never really felt like too much of a minority in that aspect. That was when I was growing up, though. The underground rap scene is mad different now. I still work with a lot of Filipino musicians, but there are noticeably fewer of us, so we stick together and support one another. I like that, but sometimes I feel we’re too caught up in "representing" and that it's read as being nationalistic and exclusive, which is the opposite of what I'd like. I'd like for people to know my ethnicity, but at the same time feel that both my music and who I am as an artist in general are personable and relatable.

Adam Bernard: You got personal and relatable on The Diamond Dame, which is the full length album you released last year. Tell me a bit about it. Personally, I think it has a classic old school feel to it. Was that the intent going in, or am I the first person to say that and you’re now going to give me a total screwface look?
Hopie Spitshard: {Gives a screwface look} Nah, just kidding. The Diamond Dame is very eclectic. I wanted there to be something for everyone on that album, but I found that the beats I gravitated more toward and sounded best on were the older, bass-heavy beats. I don't know if I want to say the intent was to make a sort of throwback joint or not, but I do know that I ended up leaning that way. I mean, I have a remake of “Rebirth of Slick” on there, so I guess you can say I knew what I was doing.

Adam Bernard: As an artist, what do you feel you have to offer that’s unique, or currently underrepresented, in the game?
Hopie Spitshard: I feel that I'm a fun, lyrical, spittin ass female, and that's rare, even amongst male MCs. I'm not going to say that I'm what the game needs just because I'm a female MC, though. There are a lot of us that are fresh that are on the come up right now.

Adam Bernard: Speaking of female emcees, thanks to the influences of Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina and the like, a lot of your peers focus on rhyming about their lady parts. You’ve chosen not to go that route. Tell me about your decision to rhyme about something other than sexual prowess. Is it cuz you’re just totally wack in the sack? (Kidding!)
Hopie Spitshard: Oh no, I'm the fucking best {winks}. I don't feel a need to rap about fucking or my body parts because I'm not a Hawaiian Tropic model and that's not my job. Just cuz you have body parts doesn't mean you can rap and I'm tryna prove that I can rap, not that I have TnA. Shit's irrelevant and played the fuck out. Also, I have waaaaaaay more respect for myself and my fellow women than to perpetuate that tired ass shit. I'm a grown woman with a brain and talent and I expected to be treated that way. Even if people don't like my music, at least I still have my dignity.

Adam Bernard: Finally, to end things on a lighter note, judging by one of the pics on your MySpace page you’re a bit of a sneakerhead. Do you have a fave pair in your collection?
Hopie Spitshard: Actually, I'm not really a sneakerhead. I can't qualify as one considering some other self-proclaimed sneakerheads, but I do love shoes and my favorite pair right now aren’t kicks, they’re heels I got in Chicago. The Chi style don't play!

Related Links

Myspace: myspace.com/hopiespitshard
Twitter: twitter.com/hopiespitshard
YouTube: youtube.com/hopiespitshard


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:34 AM  
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