The brashness of some rap music can be a turn off to some. For every Chance the Rapper, there’s a Trina and for every “Dear Mama” there’s an “X is Coming.” However, the fact that Rap possesses this interesting spectrum is what makes its appeal so far and wide, and what attracts so many to the genre. For Diamond Smith, such was the case.
Born in Baltimore, MD, Smith was put into early positions that almost made her star power inevitable. “I was always the center of attention when it came to my family,” she says. “I would sing, I would dance, I was just a character.” However, it wasn’t until later on that she would discover a passion, and talent, for music.
In her hometown of Baltimore, the murmurs and comparisons to a young Nicki Minaj began early. From the hard-hitting lyrics, the savy confidence of a young veteran, to not being afraid to flaunt her sexuality in her music and personality, the calling cards were all there. “I’ve always loved music. I liked Lil Kim, but it wasn’t until Nicki Minaj came out that I was like ‘wow, this is what I want to do,'” she says. “She brought something different to female Rap and it inspired me.
Jenni began writing at the age of 16. After years of writing, Jenni met another Baltimore artist by the name of Starrz. From appearing on Oxygen’s Last Squad Standing to touring with Tech N9ne, and making his rounds on the circuit in his hometown, Starrz was well versed in the inner workings of the music industry. By being under his wing early on, Jenni was able to see professional recording studios, network, and get her feet wet while only just putting out freestyles herself.
It was at 19 that she would begin to craft not only her own sound, but her debut project Nineteen. “That was the year of Jenni. That’s when I discovered Jenni Dimepeace,” she says about the project’s title. “That’s when she made her debut.” The fierce alter ego of Jenni Dimepeace almost serves as the polar opposite of Diamond Smith, as she sat along the calm waters facing Baltimore’s Fells Point area detailing her young, promising career. “A lot of people called me white girl because I talk so proper, so it’s just an ego,” she explains; “But instead of being a proper white girl, she’s the gutter rap chick.”
Nineteen features rap verses from only Jenni herself, as she holds the spotlight of the project just as her personality does whenever she enters a room. From a full-page spread in Streetsmart Magazine this past Spring to features on DTLR and VVC radios, the circuit has sped up for her quicker than a lot of artists in the city. However, that isn’t to say she hasn’t faced challenges early on, specifically in being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“People don’t know how to take a backseat to my creativity. They want to dominate me because they think ‘Oh she’s a woman – she doesn’t know what she wants,'” she expresses. “It’s also hard because men don’t know how to keep business as business, and that’s not a good thing.”
In Jenni’s lyrics, she speaks of empowerment for women. Whether it be through sexual liberation on songs like “Call Him Daddy,” financial independence on tracks like “Activate the Bag,” or even all-around dominance in all facets as she started off Nineteen with her “Jenni D. (Intro).”
“I want [women] to understand it’s OK to think you’re a bad bitch,” she explains. “It’s OK to be sexually fluid. It’s OK to feel yourself. It’s OK to be who you are. You don’t have to put yourself in a box. Just be who you are.” With her confidence, she’s able to find the perfect middle ground between intimidation and being comfortable in your own skin, and more.
With the fourth quarter of 2017 here, Jenni plans to close out the year the same way she came in. “I want to come into the industry full storm,” she says; “I want to let the industry know that I’m here to stay.”
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Listen to Nineteen here