From the photographs, skyline buffs can probably deduce the location of this month's shoot is Downtown Los Angeles. Modern skyscrapers juxtaposed against early 20th century architecture narrows the field, but it's the hazy smog shrouding the San Gabriel Mountains that is the dead giveaway. That, or the fact that 2NR's offices are in SoCal and our travel budget's about as deep as the plot of an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but whatever.
Despite the locale, Melanie Iglesias is as non-Angelino as it gets. Born and raised in the Empire State, months of voice coaching can't mask her Brooklyn accent. Determined, resilient, and with a strong penchant for saying things as she sees them, Melanie embodies the spirit of New York. Put a few cocktails in her and combine it with the biological fact that she's part Italian and you can fuggedaboutit. So why shoot Melanie in the heart of L.A.? Lots of reasons: Because L.A.'s a paradox, the aforementioned budget problem, and the fact that Melanie would look hot even if photographed in BP's oil spill. But mostly, because Melanie's a Biggie fan. We're Tupac for life. Irony, plus a healthy dose of "Westside!"? All the makings for a great photoshoot.
Growing up in Brooklyn, what's your craziest hood moment?
I would take shortcuts on my way to school and cut through the projects. I'd always hear about murders that happened recently in that location but would still take the shorter route anyway. I didn't want to be late for class!
Who's the greatest rapper to come out of Crooklyn, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Notorious, or Chubb Rock?
Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Jay-Z, and Biggie are all amazing and each brought something different to the table. They're all in my top five with no specific order, although Biggie and Jay-Z get are most played on my iPod.
What? No Chubb on the playlist? That's no way to treat 'em right. In your expert opinion, has the gentrification of Brooklyn been positive?
It's not always positive but Brooklyn is constantly changing. In my opinion, you have to love it because it has produced so many amazing things! We gave the world some of the greatest rappers and some of the greatest pizza in America.
Gentrification leads to great pizza . . . interesting. Concerning pie, what are three topping dos and three don'ts?
Definite must haves are meatballs, pepperoni, or black olives. Don'ts are anchovies, pineapples, or extra onions. Can't rock bad breath!
The Dodgers saw the light and moved to L.A. Would you consider?
I don't really see myself as an L.A. girl but I guess if I did, it would be for my career. L.A. also has a great basketball team, although I'm an Orlando Magic fan. I don't see myself leaving New York because everything is so convenient in the city that never sleeps. New York also inspires my music.
For the record, LA doesn't have a just "great" team, we're the home of the World Champion Lakers. [laughter] First it was Miracle on 34th Street then the Miracle on the Hudson. Have your own Manhattan miracle moment? Every moment in NYC is a miracle moment. There's no other place like it! I feel lucky to have grown up in NYC.
Except for your Knicks. They're lacking the miracle and luck factors. Even Captain Sully couldn't save them. Manhattan may be the melting pot but it smells like the crap pot. Explain?
[laughter] Garbage day in Manhattan is terrible but that's because there are so many people in the city who all take out the trash at the same exact time!
You know what else is terrible? How you got booted off America's Next Top Model. What happened?
Tyra said she thought I wanted to do music more than modeling, which was completely untrue! I thought I was too short to be a model until I got the opportunity to be on the show. When I arrived in L.A., filming wasn't what I thought it would be. I was stressed and wasn't feeling the idea anymore so I didn't 'bring it.' I told some of the crew I'd be more excited if I saw a hotdog and I ended up getting booted. I still love Tyra, though. She's crazy beautiful.
Or just plain crazy. Who do you consider America's top model?
Marissa Miller. In the next life, I want come back as a hot blonde with no waist like her. She's smoking hot!
After the Tyra debacle, is that when you decided to get more serious with your music?
Well, I was always into music. My dad is a musician and we would always write songs together, growing up. I was captain of the dance team in high school and was also in the women's chorus where I would put shows together for my school. I wasn't sure I wanted to pursue a career in music until after I graduated high school, which was when I decided that I wasn't going to go to college and get serious with music. Here I am, five years later, with amazing contacts in the industry and a great team behind me, and I'm writing and working on a much anticipated EP. It feels good!
How would you describe your music?
My music is influenced by some of the greats! I love Janet Jackson, En Vogue, TLC, Britney, Madonna! It's fun music that every girly girl would want to be listening to when they're getting ready for a night out. The music you dance around in your underwear to before you put your sexy dress on.
Sounds like my kind of jam. Is there an artist or producer you want to work with?
There are so many but I would love to collaborate with Jay-Z or even write a song for Britney.
That would be music you dance around in without your underwear. How about Enrique and Julio? How's the familia?
[laughs] I get that a lot! There's no relation. At least none that I know of.
What's the worst song to ever get radio play?
There are so many songs with messages I don't want my siblings singing. I cringe every time I hear my little brothers and sisters mouthing lyrics to lewd and disgustingly graphic songs. There are so many, I wouldn't be able to name just one.
Like dancing in, or without your underwear? [laughter] Auto-tune: For or against?
I don't want to hear rappers use it but I must say I do love me some T-Pain.
Photoshop, AKA, the visual auto-tune: For or against?
If Photoshop is used to correct certain situations like if the lighting wasn't a hundred percent perfect, then I think it's fine. But please don't make me look like a cartoon. That's tacky!
Too late. Kidding. Besides music and modeling, what are you into?
I'm really into stealing Silly Bandz from little kids. I have a whole collection and haven't bought a single pack! [laughs] I'm just messing. I love basketball. I try to keep up with the NBA and I also play with friends. I also love playing poker and am going to buy a pair of new Christian Louboutins with my winnings. Come on, pocket aces! Mama needs a new pair of shoes!
This mama doesn't date, why?
It's slim pickings in NYC so I gave up! I developed a fly-swatting technique against men. A lot of guys are only looking for a good time and I have more to offer than just that.
What would a guy need to have for you to reconsider?
He would have to be well rounded and intellectual. I'm a great listener and I love to learn. You also have to have a killer sense of humor because I'm a huge goof ball. It's important to be able to laugh at yourself and only take yourself seriously as needed.
Ethnicity: Puerto Rican, Italian, Filipina, and more!
Birthday: June 18
Hometown: New York City, NY
Thank you list: My mom, dad, all eight of my siblings, and Prestigious Models