Keeping up with Melina Jones - Page 2

The SF MC finds her balance at GirlFest
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No option but to follow, submit to the underground."

If there's a hint of the maternal in Jones's attitude toward hip-hop — she is, after all, the mother of an 11-year-old ("I'm constantly putting that boy in check," she jokes) — she's anything but matronly. Nor is the stylish MC afraid to reveal her glam-y, girly side, a move that hip-hop's hardcore and most highly respected female rappers were hesitant to make in the beginning of their careers (think MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, Eve). Jones, who professes to "love to play dress-up" and "invest in hella makeup," acknowledges how difficult it is to be taken seriously as a woman in the rap game and how a lot of her peers "kind of grime themselves out."

"When I spit," she explains, "I'm really not interested in trying to make my voice sound like a dude or even taking the place or the role [of a man]. I'm not trying to bust anyone's balls, unless you take me there ..."

Given her cover-girl good looks, the MC likely has to go there fairly often. She recounts one time when she had to deflect a cheesy come-on by a club-owner type — behavior that in any other professional field would clearly be defined as sexual harassment. "I definitely get challenged by men all the time who are in the game," she confesses. "[It's] nuance[ed]; it's not like somebody just coming right out.... It's those little tiny inflections of body language that tell me [they're] sexualiz[ing] me."

Jones doesn't waste too much time playing the victim, however, or complaining about misogyny in hip-hop to the point where there's no joy in it or room to maneuver. "These clowns can say what they want," she defiantly proclaims. "I'm gonna do my thing. There's a power in that."*

MELINA JONES

Appearing at "Women Re-Birthing Justice"

Sun/22, 1–5 p.m., free

Dolores Park

Dolores and 18th St., SF

For other events at Girl Fest Bay Area, July 19–22, go to www.girlfestbayarea.org.

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