NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Queen Latifah, in New Orleans for the 15th annual Essence Music Festival, says she's excited about her latest project _ her first rap album in a decade that will be released in August.
Entitled "Persona,'' she says the release includes influences from rock, dance, reggae and "of course, plenty of straight up hip-hop.''
"It's a rocker, it's a rocker for sure,'' she said Friday, the festival's first day. "I can't wait to put it out and perform for everybody and get in the minds of those who've come to know me only as an actor and to kind of deliver something to those who know me as a rapper, turned actress, turned entrepreneur.''
Latifah also says she wants to bring back the female voice to hip-hop.
"I think there's a huge deficit out there,'' said the now 39-year-old who entered the industry at age 17. "I don't think it's ever been this male-dominated since I started making music. For me, part of the mission is to get out there again and be a platform to up-and-coming female artists who aren't getting their voices heard right now.''