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Miami's Havana Makes Her Return
8/25/04 - exclusive interview


Havana Mena

Four years ago, a Cubana by the name of Havana made her debut entrance into the rhyme game with her album "How Much Do You Want Me." The single of the same title shot to #11 on Billboard's top 100 Rap Singles chart, seemingly offering Havana a promising career.  Despite catching a buzz from the single, Havana dipped off of the radar for several years. 2004, and she's back in the studios in her native city of Miami working on her sophomore album.


Havana spoke with LatinRapper in an exclusive interview about her break from the biz, her new album, and why Miami is the place to be for music artists. First off, you had a track that debuted at #11 on Billboard's rap singles a few years back, yet there was no follow up for years, why the hiatus?

Well, basically that ended up being just bad timing. Bad timing and I was caught up in the middle of a little struggle that I didn't want to be involved in, that's pretty much why I'm starting over.

Can you expound on that a little?

It would have been a good thing [to drop], unfortunately the politics of the game, I wouldn't have been able to make the moves I would have liked to make for me. It would have been something that didn't work well for my career.

What are you working on at the moment?

Actually I'm doing some really hot stuff, I made some changes as far as styles. My style is pretty much similar but I'm rapping in Spanish, a lot. I recorded an entire Spanish album, which is a new thing for me. I'm still working on a mixtape at this time, which is using both the languages but mostly English. After that I'll be following up with an album in English and maybe some Spanish here and there.

Who is doing the producing?

So far I've had only one producer, Big Nak for Soundproof Entertainment. He also had some tracks on the album that got my deal for me, so we still work together. I worked with Cool and Dre, I have two new tracks for the album. I'll probably have one of the Cool and Dre tracks on there (the mixtape), but the rest of it is gonna be stuff that's on the radio now as far as beatwise, and I lyrically put my own spin to it.

Who are some of the guest artists involved?

I have some local artists; Dirtbag is gonna be on the mixtape with me. I'm looking to do something very soon with Pitbull, who is also a friend of mine, but he's a busy guy right now. I also have some local artists, Allie, Mic Menance.

What separates "How Much You Want Me" from some of the tracks you are recording now?

Well, How Much You Want Me served its purpose. It served its purpose on the street.  I don't know if you are speaking album wise or single wise, but album wise I've grown a lot. As far as the single goes, I definitely have as much potential as How Much You Want Me, or more. So I definitely hope that people feel it as much as at that time and I catch as much love.

Your bio describes you as the "type of artist and girl every other girl wants to be, and the girl that every guy wants to meet". Pretty bold statement, where does that confidence come from?

I'm a very confident person altogether, but its just that comes from all the friends that I've been around, people that I've been around in general. Not patting myself on the back, but going from what I hear from other people, when I go somewhere, I just attract a lot of attention from different people . Not just how I look, but conversation. I'm real cool with the girls, I'm real cool with the guys. I can get along with anybody as long as they can get along with me.

In a recent interview, Gloria Velez told us that being a female and being Latina were obstacles to women trying to make it in the rap industry, do you feel the same way?

I gotta say that I agree with Gloria on that one, because its just difficult. Being a woman altogether, an being a Latina woman, people are gonna underestimate you for one. Two, being approached is different. Its difficult to get a collab with someone you look up to and want to meet them, it's a different expectation, they may have the nerve to ask you to sleep with them. I try to stay away from that, I try to keep a positive attitude. But I'd like to open the door for the next Latina girl that wants to rap, or sing, or any minority period. Hopefully people can learn from my experience.

Any female artists that you'd like to collaborate with?

Man, I'm really looking forward to hopefully one day working with Christina Milian, I like her a lot, plus that She's Cuban and that has a lot to do with it. I would have to say Lil Kim. And Missy Elliot, forget it, I don't know anyone who doesn't want to work with her.

Who were the artists you looked up to when you were coming up in music?

A little bit of everybody, not necessarily just rappers. Michael Jackson is the ultimate, talent wise, I think he's a really good writer. As far as rap artists goes, Jay-Z has blown my mind many a time, Eminem is someone I would like to work with as well, I remember seeing Run DMC when I was little little. Going to the concert with my sister, they are probably the ones who made me look forward to maybe doing something like this.

The few Cuban rappers that have gotten some shine are men, no Cuban female rapper has really achieved mainstream appeal yet. Does this influence you to represent more or make a name for yourself?

Yeah, I would love to be the first, why not. I want to be known as the first Cuban chick of the rap game. I want to be the one to open that door and bring in others.

Miami has long been a known Hip Hop spot, but now it seems to be the place that plenty of rappers outside of Florida are moving to. Why do you think this is happening now?

I think everyone is coming down here because it's the next hot spot. You have a lot of local independent labels, and the bigger labels getting offices down here. A lot of fun as far as a city to be in, clubs all over the place, music all over the place. A big melting pot. The main reason everyone always gives is the weather, but I think its fun, that's why people are coming down. People are coming down to make the changes Miami should have made a long time ago. We've always had independent labels, but the teamwork wasn't always there. Slowly but surely I think we're getting there.

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