At the tender age of 22, Jennifer “JenRO” Robles is already a West Coast hip-hop phenom with a following in Mexico and the Philippines. Between preparing to drop her debut solo album The Revelation and gigging all over the place, JenRO took the time to answer a few questions.
AfterEllen.com: What inspired you to start rapping/rhyming? Was there a particular influence like a friend or family member?
JenRO: I was surrounded by music my whole life. My older brother used to bump his gangsta rap music at maximum volume in the car while driving me to elementary school. So in the third grade, I had already memorized some of the hottest West coast rap songs. My father was a Disco DJ so I woke up to music almost every morning. Just listening to music everyday really inspired me to create my own stories and rap songs.
AE: Who are your role models?
J: My role models are Harvey Milk, Rosa Parks, Missy Elliot, Harriet Tubman. All these people really made positive changes in the world and created a heavy impact on the views of several people.
AE: What would you consider your career highlight so far?
J: Well I was just featured on VH1′s My Coolest Years. That was a really exciting opportunity for me to spread my word to the world! Many people around California were really impressed to see how close to home that was.
AE: Who do you want to work with in the future?
J: I’d love to work with Missy Elliot, Alicia Keys — man is she is fine too! — and Ludacris. I would love to have them featured on a song — and maybe even go out on a romantic dinner with Alicia.
AE: Tell me a bit about your experience being both a woman and a lesbian in the hip hop scene. And does being Latina make your art harder or easier?
J: Being latin, queer, and a woman in the hip hop scene as really been a challenge to be accepted in different scenes. I may run into some homophobic crowds at times or people that may not appreciate a woman rapping. Although this may be disappointing, it makes me more stronger and motivated to continue to break the silence about who I am and that there is nothing wrong with being queer, latin, or a female rapping in the game.
In reality, I am a rapper and this is who I am. Anybody that can’t deal with my sexuality or race may just be close minded. But that’s one of the reasons I’m here, to make society think twice about how they judge people.
AE: What are your opportunities in the Bay Area? Will you have to move to another area and where would that be?
J: I love the Bay Area because this is my hometown. I get a lot of respect and acceptance here. I’ve lived in New York and I love the crowd there, too. I may move somewhere else depending on where my career takes me, but my ears are open for comfortable cities where I can focus on my career.
AE: What are your immediate future plans after your album is released, any big collaborations or appearances you’d like to share?
J: I will definitely be touring states across the U.S., and across the Philippines and Mexico. Some of the confirmed stops in the U.S. include Oregon, Rhode Island, New York, Chicago, New Mexico, Philadelphia, and of course, all over California.
AE: What do you do when you aren’t out on gigs?
J: I definitely love to work in the community with the homeless. I have visited San Quentin State Penitentiary with one of the organizations I am involved in called “United Playaz.” I perform for the inmates and I love them. I’ve been doing outreach on the streets since I was 14 — I also work with youth who need help in school and teens that are coming out. I have been involved with queer youth outreach to help kids who struggled like myself growing up.
Get more info at jenromusic.com