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The hip-hop industry is not known for being welcoming to gay artists, and that goes double within a broadly machista society such as Mexico. However, one openly lesbian rapper is changing the game, making waves in the hip-hop community both in Mexico and abroad with her potent lyrics, global bass beats and recent genre boundary-breaking collabs. Here’s what you need to know about LA-based Mexican rapper Niña Dioz.
Raised in Monterrey, Mexico, the birthplace of many of the country’s most successful artists, Dioz – real name Carla Reyna – had a hometown legacy to live up to when she released her first 2007 EP Marcapasos. Live up to it she did, winning the Best Hip-Hop Album at the Indie-o Music Awards two years later, just a few years after getting her start playing to small crowds in obscure Monterrey bars.
Since then, and with the release of her second disc, Indestructible, Dioz’s fledgling career has gone from strength to strength: she’s partnered with some of Mexico’s biggest names across diverse genres, such as electronic/alt rock group Plastilina Mosh (also from Monterrey), the indie pop-rock sensations Natalia Lafourcade and Julieta Venegas, and Mexico City rock band Molotov. Alongside this, you might recognise her music on some huge ad campaigns, or perhaps from Grand Theft Auto V.
This road to recognition hasn’t always been easy for the white skinned, blue-eyed rapper, who breaks with a multitude stereotypes, whether through her sound, her appearance or her very female, gay presence in the heavily male hip-hop industry. In fact, while Indestructible was receiving glowing reviews in People en Español, she was fielding online abuse and fighting with her reliance on alcohol, something she’s since overcome. Since then, she’s been described variously as the Mexican M.I.A and one of the most influential Latina rappers of all time, accolades achieved while working as an entirely independent artist, touring across multiple continents and releasing a number of mix tapes and EPs.
Most recently, Dioz released the Cynthia Vance-directed video for her latest single ‘Dale’, filmed in LA and Monterrey. While the name conjures up a reggaeton vibe, the intensely hip-hop sound of her latest single tells a different story, and we’re sure to hear more tracks like it on her upcoming (and supposedly somewhat trap-influenced) Capitán Planet and Futura-produced EP Bautizada en Fuego, set to be released later this year.
Alongside this project, Dioz also recently teamed up with Detroit-based jazz and hip-hop heavyweight producer Shigeto, a collaboration that came about as a result of the Smirnoff Sound Collective sessions. The result, ‘Nubes’, is captivating and unexpected. Incidentally, it was on this international stage that she chose to come out as lesbian, a move which made her the only openly gay rapper in Mexico. One thing’s for sure – you need to keep your eyes and ears peeled for plenty more Niña Dioz in the future.