During a recent phone interview, I shared a brief moment of bemusement with one of 2019 San Diego Pride Festival's marquee names.
"I'm not [performing] on the main stage," Snow Tha Product told me. I had assumed (my bad) that as one of the event's main draws, she'd be booked on the Stonewall stage with other headliners like Melissa Etheridge, Drew G and King Princess. I was confused. How is that possible? After all, the hugely popular, rapid-fire hip-hop star grew up right here in San Diego selling CDs on the street in the Gaslamp.
"To be honest, I don't know what happened," she said laughing. Instead, Snow Tha Product performs on Sunday, July 14, on the festival's Mundo Latino stage. To be fair, she seemed largely unconcerned about it.
"I mean, it's cool the Latinos have their own Latino Pride stage," she said. "I’m just really excited to go to San Diego, just in general. I really like when I have something to do in San Diego, it gives me a reason to go back. I really love San Diego."
It should be noted that whatever stage she does perform on, essentially becomes the main stage, so I guess it makes no real difference. As for Snow, who currently lives in LA, returning to town and taking part in the weekend-long event will be a new experience.
"I haven’t actually gone to San Diego Pride ever," she said. "I’ve done an LA one and a few in different states but never in San Diego. And to be honest, I barely went to Hillcrest, like, last year. I had never really partied when I was in San Diego, I was real young, so I really didn’t party anywhere 21 and up."
Her performance at this year's Pride Festival is a big deal, not only for her area friends and family, but to the artist herself. As a bisexual, fiercely independent Latina rap artist, Snow Tha Product has always valued substance and unapologetic authenticity over glitz and glamour -- and she knows, better than most, how important visibility is.
"I am Mexican and I am representing a particular audience that has always maybe been underrepresented," she said, "and when we are represented, it’s always the women who are oversexualized -- especially a lesbian couple that is kind of femme or whatever, we [Snow and her girlfriend, JuJu] both get oversexualized as a couple -- and then you have Latinas that are also oversexualized [in general]. Being someone who doesn’t try to do that, there’s all these points against you in this industry. So the best way that I can show young women, hopefully in the future, for those things not to be against you, is by representing."
If you go through her catalog, starting with her 2007 "Verbal Assault Vol. 1" mixtape, Snow Tha Product has always been an advocate for self-love, acceptance, and social change while railing against sexism, racism and a perenially predatory music industry. As such, Snow has embraced the weight and responsibility that comes with being a role model.
"I mean, I still have problems with some of my family [in regards to] what I identify as or with my lifestyle or with my career, so I can only imagine a 16-year-old who’s still living at home who’s scared to get kicked out of their house, you know? So, both the fact that I dropped out of college or am in a relationship with a woman, or chose to be a rapper in a career where there aren’t very many Latina women for that matter, I do take it as a responsibility to kind of have pride in what I am and show young girls like, 'Yo, you could do this.' I definitely now make it a point to tell people that I’m not s----ing on anyone that does it this way or does oversexualize themselves or whatever -- what I am doing is giving another option for anybody who thought that was the only way."
After signing with, and then leaving, Atlantic Records, Snow is now totally independent -- something she's immensely proud of, and with good reason.
"I think that’s the whole thing that I try to put out there in the world, 'cause you know, I’m a cancer so I feel like guilt is a big deal to me -- so I would never want to feel guilty in any sort of way," she explained. "I like the fact that I got my success doing what I felt was right. I wouldn't want to be a sell out to what I am, so I like to just be as honest as I can and be as real as I can, represent, be happy and proud -- and I think that connects with a lot of people, and that’s why I’m still a really good touring artist without being on the radio or having a label or having management or having anything. I’m doing it all on my own and it’s working out pretty good."
If you've been keeping up with Snow's YouTube channel, EverydayDays -- where she documents her hardworking, always-on-the-go lifestyle -- it should be comforting to know that she'll be taking some time off for herself while in town.
"Yeah, I’m taking this as a couple days at least to take a break. Not necessarily like a whole break, but just to re-energize," she said. "I’m just so happy and proud, and I haven’t really been able to take a break since tour and I’ve already added a second leg, and I’m doing the blogs, and videos, and songs, and cyphers and everything -- I just want to enjoy it, you know what I’m saying? And what better place than San Diego? Especially coming home to be part of Pride, and being that happy with where I am in my life and with my girlfriend, and with my mom and my brother and my kid -- I mean, I feel like, yo, this is an awesome place to be right now."
Snow Tha Product performs at the 2019 San Diego Pride Festival (on the Mundo Latina stage) on Sunday, July 14, from 5:15-6:15 p.m. Tickets are available here.