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“I feel happy. My family is here in the U.S., I’m working: Those are the things that keep me happy. My work-life balance is on point; I’m excited. This is the happiest I’ve ever been, and I’m successful,” declares Mexican-American rapper Snow Tha Product, born Claudia Alexandra Madriz Meza.
They say it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. And Snow is living proof of it.
“Yo ya llevo tiempo que le meto, pero con todo respeto / Ya llegó la hora de que llegue con un golpe [I’ve been at it for a while, but with all due respect / It’s about time I came out with a hit/punch],” she smoothly rhymes in her “BZRP Music Sessions #39.”
The track has racked up over 120 million plays in the first month since its debut, propelling the artist to stardom in the Latin American music scene – coincidentally, the trendiest in the Western world right now. After more than a decade of consistent musical production, collaborations with industry staples like Tech N9ne and Ty Dolla Sign, and endorsements from 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg, but still not getting proper public recognition, Snow would finally find viral success in the most unexpected of places: Argentina.
A few weeks ago, a Forbes article looked into the phenomenon of “Cumbia 420,” a weed-infused musical style bringing ghetto back to the mainstream in the Spanish-speaking world.
At one point, we introduced Bizarrap, a sort of South American Dr. Dre who periodically provides his loyal fanbase of tens of millions with mega-viral smash rap hits.
“If Biza takes part in the production of a song, chances are it will be more successful than the latest Justin Bieber, Drake or Rihanna release — and this is quite literal,” we wrote at the time. And nothing has changed since.
In fact, it was Snow’s collab with Bizarrap that really boosted her career – amid a pandemic context, no less. When her session dropped, Snow’s social media followers roughly doubled within days, as did her recognition across the Americas.
Suddenly, this OG-yet-new-school rapper going against the grain of the trap scene dominating Latin America, was the hot topic. Her thoughtful lyrics, flawless flow, perfectly-bilingual bars and badass attitude captivated the hearts and minds of an entire region in the blink of an eye -after a life-long staring contest.
And, it seems, the hit had been, in a sense, a couple of years in the making.
Snow and Biza first connected back in 2019. The producer apparently was a fan of the rapper’s work and simply wanted to make contact.
“It was just very casual, like a producer-artist conversation. It wasn’t anything about ‘let’s blow up the world’ and stuff like that. It was just a regular conversation,” Tha Product discloses. “It took a few years until finally we decided to hit the studio.
“The session happened and we knew it was good, you know what I mean? But we didn’t know it was going to cause that much [commotion]. Well… I think Biza did. But me, I just rapped and hoped people liked it, hoped his fanbase liked it. And they did; it was crazy.”
Just like Snow took Latin America by storm, Latinx love hit her like an eight-wheeler on a blizzard. There’s something about el retorno, the return to the proverbial home – a place that’s new but feels like forever yours, that’s simply inexplicable.
It’s insane, the love and support.
I love it so much because it’s all about the talent. That’s what I think is really cool about all of Biza’s sessions, about the way Biza does it; and also about my session in particular.
Had I done anything different than what I regularly do, and that had gotten a lot of love, I’d be like, “Oh, damn, now I gotta change my whole career. That’s why it hasn’t been working.” As opposed to: “No, I did what I’ve been doing. I’ve rapped in English and Spanish. I rap the same stuff that I always rap and it works.”
So, it’s more about the fact that there just hasn’t been enough attention on me, than about there being something wrong with me.
That whole song was like my introduction [to Latin America]. I’m smart enough to know that Biza has a different fanbase than I do. Some maybe coincide. But for the most part, he has a way different fanbase. So it was more like introducing myself: “Hey, my name is Snow. Don’t know if you know this but I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve got a kid.” I pretty much laid it all on the line on that song.
If one of the songs that I did with a big artist, a big collab, was my only big record, then that means that it was relying on that. But a session where it’s just me rapping… that’s really dope. I love it. And I think Biza deserves his praise for how talented he is and how he got that out of me.
For Snow, there’s a clear lesson here: Persistence pays off. And so do hard work, tenacity, being a good person and self-inprovement.
“As I’ve grown in the industry, I’ve consistently had to look inward and try to fix things about myself. When you do that, you receive information better, which a lot of times ends up preparing you for this industry.”
And she never, ever, neglects her most loyal fans.
“I always focus on those thousand fans, my main, core fanbase, the ones that I literally D.M. with. Everybody else can come along and become one if they want. But I try to always check in with that core fanbase, the ones that have been following me for ten years. I would hate to disappoint them.”
The Weight Of The World
Claudia Alexandra grew up in a humble home in San Jose, California. She was raised by Mexican parents who had emigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life.
Her heritage, the struggle of her people and her relative privilege: that, she never forgot.
Over the years, Snow took every chance she got to talk about Mexican-American issues, about immigration, disparity, discrimination… Hard-to-swallow pills.
The musician didn’t care if it was “The Breakfast Club” or “Big Boy’s Neighborhood,” she’d bring out the uncomfortable topics that needed to be addressed, often at the expense of her career and overall popularity.
“Maybe I would have gotten more push if I wasn’t saying all that. Maybe if I was just happy-go-lucky, I would’ve been more famous earlier,” she ponders.
However, for Snow, doing the right thing was always more important than fame or fortune.
“That has held me up a little bit as far as where my career could go. But, in a way, that has actually benefited me now, in the long run, because I’ve been saying the same thing that now everybody wants to talk about.
“Everybody wants to talk about these buzz words like ‘social justice.’ What held me back for so long, that’s what makes me the most relatable now. I have stuck by my word, I have done the right things, and now I deserve to be in the spot that I think I deserve to be in… At least have a fighting chance in this music industry.”
And Then Some
Being an independent artist, with no management up until a couple weeks ago, didn’t make things easy for the vocal rapper either. From booking to social media, and from touring to merch, all fell on the young mother’s shoulders.
“All these things, I have to focus on in order to be able to make this business move, to feed my family, and to employ my friends and my family. It’s been a lot and, of course, it has taken longer than, for example, someone that has a team of 20 people doing everything for them,” Snow assures.
“However, I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love the credibility I have. I love the organic, real love I have from the fans. I love the fact that I’ve been able to do it on my own terms and with my family. A lot of people would say, ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way,’ but I really, really mean that. It takes a little longer, but you do it right.”
Snow is not only often assigned the task of representing the Latinx community: she is also seen as a voice for female rappers, women in general, the LGBTQIA+ community (yup, Snow’s also gay), OG rappers, and more.
That is a lot of pressure. Does it ever get to be too much?
Not for Snow.
“I love it. I [only] hate when people try to put all these responsibilities on you, but you don’t get the support for it. People expect you to not f*ck up representing these things; but then, they highlight other people that aren’t really actually representing these things, companies keep picking for their campaigns other people who aren’t as vocal.
“You can’t complain, though. So it’s one of those things where it only becomes too much because it’s a lot of responsibility for a little bit of good. But at the end of the day, it’s just being true to who I am. So there’s really no other option. I wouldn’t go around being fake. So f*ck it. It just is my reality. I don’t really look at it any other way.”
Snow White Goes Green
Growing up in California, Claudia was no stranger to weed. From San Jose, to San Diego, to Modesto, wherever she moved, the herb was a local favorite.
Nonetheless, a passage through juvenile hall and a probation period would be enough to keep young Snow off the Devil’s Lettuce for a while.
As life went back to normal and fear left Snow’s body, weed re-entered her life. But it was still not a regular thing.
Things changed as she became more successful and thus, busier. Suddenly, cannabis proved to be the perfect sleep aid.
Stressed, busy and anxious, Snow never needed to turn to pills for comfort. Instead, she’s often relied on cannabis.
And she hasn’t been any less productive for it: Quite the contrary.
“I definitely think it helps. There’s been days when it’s hard to shut my brain off or focus on my family. Whether it’s CBD or a little bit of weed, it helps me to be able to have a chill day. I use it for medicinal reasons as opposed to just being high,” Snow states, calling for “more power to cannabis.”
“Hopefully it can be just legalized and normalized and decriminalized everywhere, and help out the whole world. I think we’re kind of in a f*cked up place: We need a little bit more peace,” she adds.
Considering BIPOC people in the U.S. have been highly disadvantaged by systemic racism and the War on Drugs – and often systematically targeted by it, Snow has thoughts on this too.
“We know this [that there’s a big racial disparity in marijuana arrests]. But to get it to the people who are actually going to make a change, that’s been the hard part for all these years,” she asserts, discussing ways to address the issue and drive change.
“Decriminalizing weed is definitely a huge thing. Getting everybody out that went to jail for weed. All these things that have affected people’s lives forever,” the rapper continues. In fact, a very close friend of hers went to prison in Mexico for cannabis, and the experience changed his life and limited his opportunities in ways he’d never imagined.
“It’s crazy, geography plays such an impact on where your life can change or where you’re fine. So I think decriminalizing cannabis federally, and globally. That would be the start,” Snow concludes.