ION INDIE MAGAZINE December 2015, Volume 19 - Page 79

I’ve said it before and I will say it again--there is a lot of garbage, non-lyrical Hip Hop out there. Before high- priced producers, million dollar videos and made up words, Hip Hop at its purest form was all about the MC. The lyrical content, the flow, the delivery and THE great MC's had the extra something that was very evident, but hard to describe at the same time. Born Christina Castellanos from Central New Jersey, by way of the Bronx, New York, U-NIQE is an MC that has that something extra besides the flow, content and delivery. Her style is reminiscent of the MC's of old. While most female MC's are regulated to feature roles, U-Niqe has proved to be an MC who can hold her own in this male dominated industry. To put it bluntly, she is one of Jersey's best all-round MC's, male or female. Mentored by Hip Hop royalty DA BRAT, U-Niqe has carved her niche in--not only the world of Hip Hop--but most recently, she has been bitten by the acting bug and has recently elevated her acting status by a recurring role on the Netflix Series "Orange is the New Black". I caught up with U-Niqe to talk Hip Hop, acting and cooking. JP: Tell the readers if ION INDIE a little about yourself… U: My name is Christina Castellanos. I'm 32 years old; half Puerto Rican/Dominican and Chachaynean Indian. I was born in Manhattan, NYC; raised in the Bronx and Bridgewater NJ. Growing up in the birthplace of Hip Hop, the culture was embedded in my blood. I use to watch the local battle Rappers, B Boys, and DJ's battle it out at the parks, block parties and house parties. At the age of 12, I wrote my first song called "Trife Life" at my boy BARRAGE from ROLL SOMETHING RECORDS studio in his basement--and ever since then, I haven't put the pen down. JP: You've been in the Hip Hop game for a minute--tell us about your influences… U: I grew up off of late 80's, 90's, and early 2000 music. I was influenced by artists such as CNN, MOBB DEEP, DMX, REDMAN, WU TANG, LOST BOYS, LOX, SNOOP, DRE, SMITH & WESSON, RAKIM, NICE & SMOOTH, SPECIAL ED, JAY Z, NAS, BIGGIE, FAB, DA BRAT, LIL KIM, FOXY BROWN, MISSY ELLIOT, LAUREN HILL, TOTAL--and my favorite artist of all time, BIG PUN. When I was 12, I was blessed enough to move next door to KEISHA EPPS from the Hit R&B group Total. She introduced me to a lot of artists, including my mentor/big sis Da Brat. Da Brat took me under her wing and schooled me to the game, and is still my mentor till this day. Without her and Keisha--there would be no U-Niqe.