See also: Top Ten Sexiest Fat Chicks in Music

Toni Monroe is beautiful. She has a powerful stage presence, and doesn't need a hype man. But yet, she's something of a hard sell. For one thing, she's white. For another, as her press release says, she is rap's “biggest” new artist — a reference to her weight.

“I have heard it all,” the release continues, “From 'She's fat and white!' to 'How can we market this?'”

“God, there are so many critiques!” she says, speaking from her studio in Reseda. “I've gotten, 'You sound too hard, you should lose weight, your show should be you and a gang of dudes.

“I'm a voice for women who go through real issues,” she continues, “real struggles.”

When Monroe's DJ asks her why she didn't dress up for this interview, she laughs. Glancing down at her black leggings, cardigan and Uggs, she shrugs, “I'm working. I need to be comfortable.”

The rapper is practicing for her upcoming set, in which she'll be opening for MC Hammer tomorrow night at Club Nokia. “I wish we could stick to one set. But until you get a hit on the radio you have to arrange your set around the crowd you know is coming,” she says.

She's got 11 years of rapping on her resume, a mixtape hosted by Ice Cube's DJ Crazy Toones, and been on bills with everyone from Mobb Deep and Lil Kim to DJ Quik and Lady of Rage. But despite all that she's still just the opening act.

Monroe, who won't give her age, grew up in Van Nuys. She describes herself as a troubled teen who didn't graduate high school. She was dating a guy with a studio in his apartment, and he brought a girl in to rap on a track. “I told him it was horrible, but he thought it was dope. I said even I could do better, and he told me to put my money where my mouth was,” she says. She soon fell in love with rapping.

Even though she respects Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj, she won't rap about pussy, and she won't get into cat fights. “When you rap about 'having the best pussy,' that doesn't open up dialogue,” she says. In one of the songs from her mixtape Big Girl Cookies called “You Like It” she cuts Kurupt off from getting too raunchy.

Though she says she's comfortable with her body, she says she knows what she'd say if an industry executive said he'd only sign her if she lost weight.

“Cut the check! Jenny Craig. I don't fit the image. Would I like to drop some weight? Sure, who wouldn't?” she says.

Still, “Do I need to be a size zero? No, I don't. Look at people you love, a lot of them are heavier women. I'm a force to be reckoned with in this hip-hop shit.”

Toni Monroe opens for MC Hammer tomorrow night at Club Nokia.

See also: Top Ten Sexiest Fat Chicks in Music

Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, Rebecca Haithcoat @rhaithcoat, and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.

LA Weekly