Feloni Lays it Down

"I actually wanted to be that rare artist who came ‘out’ first, as a
new artist, because it was challenging," she said."I wanted to see how
far I could get based on word of mouth alone, which is why I never
hired a PR person or manager. I don’t even spend on advertising."

If you’ve heard of her then, it’s for her talent — on her own
album, or her track with Lori Michaels called "Girl Thing." The
producer of "Girl Thing," Bruno, had worked with Kanye West, and Feloni
said she liked the concept of the song, so she "jumped on it."

Feloni recently performed with Michaels live in New York at an L Word Premiere Party in conjunction with the HRC.

"The fact that it was with a sold out crowd of over 2,600 stunning
women definitely had me in sensory overload," Feloni said. "Whenever I
think of New York, I think of banging parties. So, the experience
definitely lived up to my expectation. The L Word has a beautiful following."

It was her first performance in New York, as Feloni has maintained most
of her career in Detroit. Her history lies within a largely straight
male demographic, having worked with groups B-Like Boys and members of
D-12. The recently deceased MC Big Proof, Feloni said, was a friend who
was supportive of her being out.

"It was Proof who first said to me that hip-hop would fight to keep me
out because I’m gay," Feloni said. "He told me no matter what happened,
I had to keep moving and stay focused."

Being from Detroit is a large part of who she is and what she rhymes
about. The city, Feloni said, "is always burgeoning with talented, new
and upcoming artists from all genres. It’s just in our blood."

With a new album coming out sometime this year (Feloni is thinking
spring or summer, but says she might "change her mind … because I’m
the boss"), she’s preparing to reach a larger audience, and not just a
gay one.

"I understand there will always be homophobic people, which means there
will always be people in hip-hop who are uncomfortable with
homosexuality," Feloni said. "I recently gave props to Russell Simmons
for speaking out against homophobia in hip-hop at the 2008 BET Hip-Hop
Awards, which is unprecedented for a show like that. Here you have the
Godfather of hip-hop basically saying, you need some serious
introspection because true growth and success does not entail embracing
hate and discrimination, especially as African-Americans who already
know how it feels to be judged based on difference."

The new album, Love Spent, will be significantly different from A Woman’s Revenge, and not just by name.

Feloni
said she felt like she "sacrified a lot" on her debut album, and she’s
ready to move forward on a more optimistic note. She’s also working on
a music video, and trying to beat out Uh Huh Her for the top spot on
MTV’s Soundtrack homepage, where’s she’s under them at number two.

"I just think it’s cool," Feloni said, "that two out artists occupy the top chart positions on a mainstream music website."

It could be that America is getting less homophobic, or simply that
music lovers are developing better taste. Either way, Feloni’s talent
is not something for lesbians only.

"I’m known by my fans as the Godmother of the out urban, lesbian
hip-hop movement," Feloni said. "There’s no changing that now. In my
eyes, it’s all good. I’m in no rat race, and I’m not competing with
anyone for anything. Eventually, the straight fans I do have will
forget my sexuality."

In the meantime, Feloni said one thing she’d have fun with would be to battlerap the blatantly misogynistic rapper Too Short.

"And I don’t even battle rap," Feloni said, "but I’d rip his ass apart
on general principles … He makes it very clear that he’s
misogynistic, and proud of it. It would be funny."