Raven Felix may only be 19, but she’s entering a new decade with two items crossed off any West Coast rapper’s bucket list: a buzzworthy mixtape and a Snoop Dogg co-sign. With a project titled Valifornia, it’s no secret that the California native puts it on for The Valley. San Fernando Valley, known to Los Angeles locals as “The Valley,” houses a population in L.A. county that is majority Latino (41.8% of 1.77 million as of 2012). The sprinkle of Spanglish embedded within her raps reflects where she grew up and proudly represents.
Raven’s lyrics are fun. She knows how to get the party started and keep it going. The emcee of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage is currently in the process of recording her new mixtape, Valifornication. The road to twentysomethings is looking bright for Raven Felix so we felt like it was the perfect time for a proper introduction.
Three words that describe Raven Felix, the artist.
Fun. Introspective. Honest.
Valifornia dropped last summer. How has life changed career-wise in the past year?
I think there have been much more opportunities that have come to me, but life is still the same in a lot of aspects. I still live at home with my mom and you’re still a starving artist because of the way the music industry is built. You just have to grind it out as hard as possible. I have gotten some amazing opportunities. Where I grew up is a close-knit community so it’s cool to watch myself become somewhat of a role model. It’s fun.
What was it like growing up in the Valley?
I’m half Mexican and Puerto Rican. I think that when you’re a couple more generations in you become a little “white-washed,” so I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish in the household. My grandparents weren’t for speaking Spanish because I think they went through a lot of racism when they were younger. They didn’t understand that if we spoke Spanish, it would help us in the long run.
When I think of the Valley, it’s so Hispanic. When people think of the Valley, they think of kids in Calabasas. I never even knew that was a part of the Valley. For me growing up, everybody knows each other and everybody is really close. I think it’s great that we’re such a tight-knit community.
How has it influenced your music?
I think the culture as a whole influences the music. When I talk to people from L.A., they have their own culture from where they grew up. The people in The Valley are so close because of where we come from, how we partied and what we did growing up. I haven’t put Latino influences into my music. I think that will come later. I don’t want to capitalize on it to gain fans for being Hispanic. I think it’s a very important part of who I am as an artist, but I would never want to oversell that. I think that it will come naturally.
I’ve heard the Spanglish in your lyrics. It definitely sounds natural.
I think it goes over my head when I write. When I write, I want people to feel like it’s personal. I want my fans, especially my Hispanic girl fans, to feel like they’re represented like in a way I don’t feel like they are sometimes.
In the video for “Bad Little Bish,” you start off with a voicemail from your abuelita. Does she always speak to you in two languages?
That’s my great grandma, who I was really really close with. All the women in my family are very close. My grandma is a funny lady. She spoke Spanglish with us growing up, but very lightly. The mija, con cuidado, stuff like that.
What can we look forward to on Valifornication?
I’m recording every day. When it comes to music, I’m a perfectionist. This new mixtape is just like Valifornia, but way more refined. My voice has changed a lot. My writing style has changed a lot. I think I’m just progressing as an artist. It’s cool for fans because I know when I love an artist, I love to watch them grow. So I think that’s dope. I started writing Valifornia when I was 17. Now, I’m going to be 20 in one month. I’m going through all these different phases in life, as a teenager and as a female growing up. That will definitely be on display in Valifornication.
I saw a poem you posted on Instagram. Did you write poetry before you started rapping?
I’ve always written… anything. I’ve always carried a journal with me and I was always writing. Poetry is something that I stopped doing for a long time because I was focusing more on music. My grandma used to write poetry when she was younger, so she compiled all her different poems and put it into a little book and gave it to me for Christmas. It was like, Wow, my ability to write comes from somewhere. It made me want to write more.
When did the writing transition into music?
When I was in tenth grade, I dropped out of high school and got a job at a supermarket. My mom lost her job and I felt like I had to help out and stuff. I was going to put music away, work and figure out my life. I guess in the back of my head I knew that music or writing would find me. I was working at the supermarket and my friend, who was working with some producers at the time, introduced me to them. I guess they found me on Twitter and told me, “You’re so entertaining on Twitter. Do you write music?” They had me come in to the studio for a session to write and see what happens and ever since then they’ve been working with me. When I was in high school, my dream was to become a female rapper. I thought nobody was going to take me seriously as a rapper. I never thought it would be something that could happen. When it came to me, it was a sign.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I just want to be really successful. I measure success in what I can provide. If I can give my mom a beautiful house in five years then that’s really all that matters to me at the end of the day.