"I play violin, viola, and piano," says Miss Amina James, a local emcee who knows about balancing her image. The 26-year-old says, "First of all, I don't dress sexy. I almost always wear a hoodie and some sweats. If I have to look professional, I look for something that covers everything. That's why you get these females in hip-hop that are really, really tough because they have to put on this front like they're mean, or bitches. You have to put up that front, you have to be mean, you have to put it right then and there that nobody's going to mess with you.... It's a hard balance for us because in this industry they don't like guyish girls, [but] we still have to be girly women."
James says she put up a different kind of front that helped garner fans.
"I wrote a song [named] 'My First Time,' about my 'experience' with my first true love. I performed it in this gay and lesbian club called Forbidden City in Hollywood. I scrambled and changed the lyrics in the car from 'I never been with a man before so won't you show me what it's all about' to 'been with a girl' and people went haywire! I picked up a decent lesbian following, and I got both girls and guys hitting on me via MySpace."