Hip-hop was founded on love, with the sound being birthed from Black and Latin youths in New York City. Tina Brûlée, the Brooklyn-born, Queens-raised MC, has been in the game for years now, taking a front-row seat as hip-hop took over the world. Rapping since she was 6 years old, Tina had an early love for the genre, then got her big break six years later. "When I was 12, LL was the first person that put me on TV, on Good Morning America," she shares.

She was was rapping under the name Shaqueen, the moniker she'd have when she released her biggest single, 1997's "Just Because." The song peaked at No. 15 on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart, and she rode this wave to a $500,000 solo deal with Ruffhouse Records. While that deal didn't work out in the long run due to some label staff issues, she forged ahead. Going from monikers Shaqueen to Ma Barker to Tina Brûlée, and building a career that weaved through the world of New York underground rap, Tina is happy with how things went. Now, a seasoned vet, she stopped by the XXL office to drop a freestyle and talk about the changing times.

Brûlée starts her freestyle off with some wordplay. "See, niggas ain't real, they anime/I abuse beats like its Anna Mae, nigga/And I may let them hammers spray," she rhymes. "Same arm rockin' that Audemar, I won't lose today or tomorrow."

"Yeah, good god it's a war, do anybody appreciate kindness no more/Take my kindness for weakness, am I to ignore/No, I'm hot as the summer, am I just the fall," Tina Brûlée raps. "Just tryin' to shine, I'm conscious I'ma star/Thinkin' to myself, Should I just stop and get a job?/But by the graces of God, I elevated on y'all."

Freestyling comes easy for the East Coast rapper, who was formerly married to Kool G Rap and has collaborated with him numerous times in her past. Nowadays, she's worked with NYC rappers like Papoose and Fred The Godson, and makes music from the heart. "Now I'm just able to do what I want," she says. "I don't do it for the money, I do it for the love."

Contrasting her own motivations with what she sees in modern rap, Tina has plenty to share on her come up in the game back in the day. "It was more about skills, you had to be lyrically nice to be in this game; now, you just say a few words that rhyme," she explains. Tina also adds something that every rap fan can think about: "There's no respect. We respected the people who paved the way for us in the game."

Check out Tina Brûlée's Flex Zone freestyle below.

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