Nine5Four: Thanks for allowing us to do this interview. We greatly Appreciate it.
Havana Mena: No, thank you for interviewing me.
So Havana, How did you get involved with the rap business?
I started writing poems at 13. A friend and I started to rap sort of as a hobby. My dad liked what he heard and recorded a demo. And I have been in love since.
So does your friend still record with you?
No she quit sometime ago. I guess she grew out of it or something. I just kept going because I enjoy it and now I am surrounded by a lot of industry people.
So rapping was just a hobby for you, when did you start taking it serious?
About 10 years ago I would say. I have a serious passion for my music and I am determined to take it to the next level.
There is a lot of commercial music out there. Is Havana bringing an underground feel or commercial feel?
I am bringing my type of music. If you consider it commercial then it is commercial, if you consider it underground, then it’s underground. I want people to dance to my music, and have fun with it because I have fun while I am writing it.
How did you come up with the name Havana Mena?
Basically I had another name and someone from my area got more exposure than I did with my name so we had to change it. A group of us sat around throwing names out until my boy Joe Hound threw out Havana. I liked that name immediately because of my parents and it stuck since then. I prefer this name over my last name any day!
Not many woman have seen the success or have the lyrical skill that you have. Where do you plan on going with your music?
I want more than fame. I want to open doors, knock down barriers, and break records. I want to help other women who are trying to come up in this game because I know how difficult it can be. I want to do new, different things like start a community center for the kids to teach them drug awareness and give them hope. I really want to give back to the community that has made me who I am.
Wow... Not many artist have that vision of yours. Now, I really hate to have to compare you to another rapper but I must. You are a bilingual rapper stepping into this game and you remind me of a female Pitbull. What makes Havana different from the other ladies and gentleman?
(Laughs) I don’t mind being compared to Pitbull. I know him and I have worked with him. We have a bilingual track together. So the comparison is not a bad thing. As far as what makes me different, I would say the way I am able to mix the English and Spanish together. Not many other artist females at least can do that. Some just rap English others just rap Spanish but I do both. I speak both languages fluently and I mix it into my music. I would compare myself to Pitbull as well even though I have been doing it longer than he has but not the bojangle stuff.
So is your music classified as reggeaton?
No it’s more Spanish hip-hop. I don’t do reggeaton unless its a remix or something. I am not too caught up in the opinion people have about the Spanish hip-hop. I like Spanish hip hop because it makes me feel good an I am doing what makes me feel good.
What should listeners expect from Havana?
A lot of fun, and a lot of energy. Sometimes I get a little laid back, but not too much. I am not a laid back type of person. I am doing something that is different than the norm. Sit back and enjoy the party on my album.
Who have you worked with in the industry and how has this helped you get ahead?
I have worked with Dirtbag, Pitbull, and Cool and Dre. Has this helped me get ahead? Not yet but hopefully it will have some effect in the future. At this point, it hasn’t been anything extravagant just because I haven’t dropped an album yet.
What or who are the biggest influences in your music?
Well Pitbull because he has something to do with what I am doing now but my major influence is my dad because he pushed me to it and opened the doors for me. I would also say Jay-Z because I like his style and I can vibe with him. He has fun with it. Eminiem flips and tongue twists. There are too many to mention. As far as creativity I like Missy. I am a fan of 50 cent, I like 50 a lot… I flip it up a lot. And right now I am feeling Rick Ross…
I would love to have a record deal by then… Other than that I just like doing shows, and charity work things like that.. I would also like to have something on the radio that people are feeling…
What projects are you currently working on?
I am actually completing my album. I have completed a full Spanish album and a little less than half on the English version and a translation on the Spanish to English. Working on a remix which will be done soon working on the mixing and the mastering…
Where has Havana performed at and are there any upcoming shows we could attend?
d a little bit of everywhere from the worst stage to a good stage. Wrestling match, auto shows, schools anything that is charity or positive I am all for that. The biggest for me nerve wise was in front of L.A. Reid.
How did that go with LA Reid?
It went good. He liked what he saw and heard. It didn’t work out as well as it looked.
Do you have any tracks that reflect your real life pain or are you strictly focused on the commercial feel for now?
That could be a tricky question... I am a very upbeat person. I have some tracks that reflect my life but they are commercial. A lot of things that I talk about are true life experiences but I like to have fun and that comes out in my music. So it’s a little bit of both.
Do you fans recognize you?
Sometimes and it feels weird. I made a local video a few years back and it feels really strange when people approach me like “I have seen you somewhere before”. Once, this girl started at me for 15 minutes and asked her what’s up and she said I looked familiar, but then again I get that a lot because I have that type of face. I have also been approached like “you look like Havana” but I don’t expect that much…
What is the next big step for Havana Mena?
Getting the album pressed and released. I don’t want this work hard work to be in vein because I work really hard on my music and I want people to appreciate it…
Do you produce your own tracks, who produces your tracks and why do you like this particular producer?
I wish I could produce my track. I work with Big Nak who produced most of my albums. He’s an industry secret that is yet to be found. He is like Timbaland, very versatile and works with the artist. We always end up with hot stuff and he does a lot of hooks… He will do it in English and Spanish and he doesn’t speak much Spanish. There are a few other producers, but he is the only one I work with. My dad co-produced a few tracks for me as well. He is a musician and a musical genius. He helps with the Latin feel in my music.
So music runs in the family?
Yes it does
Do you do collabs with other artist? If so what are the procedures to get you featured on a track?
Yes I do... It’s not that hard… People can send it via e-mail. If I like It, then it will be real easy to get me on it... Sometimes it’s not a Havana track and I won’t do it. I am not going to jump on just any track… I don’t want to be on Front Street and be on everybody track… If the track is good and I am not feeling the rapper then I won’t get on it...
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I would like everyone to visit my Myspace page and give me their opinion. It is really important to me because I listen to the public. Visit www.havanamena.com and there is a link to my Myspace profile. I would love to get the feedback. For anyone doing what I am doing, don’t get discouraged...It is really hard to get that break...keep your head up and stay positive. If it’s for you then you will get it so keep ya head up and stay positive.
Havana Mena is definitely doing her thing. See more of Havana on her website at www.havanamena.com . If you would like to be featured, go to http://www.nine5four.com/contactus .