Have you ever shot a gun in real life?
Jeanette Branch heard these words as she stood on stage before Treach of Naughty By Nature and Apache, two of the founding rappers of Flavor Unit. During her audition, Branch assumed the daunting role of a gangster b***h, something she saw on her native New York streets. But she was no gangster and neither was she a b***h. Still, her audition sold Treach, who screamed, Apache, thats what Im talking about! She knew all the moves. She knew how to walk with authority, but with a sense of sexiness, which was attractive to street thugs. Jeanette Branchs moment etched her legacy in Hip-Hop history.
Branch mourns with the Hip-Hop Community at the tragic loss of Anthony Peaks p/k/a Apache. Branch and Peaks shared a moment that resulted in Gangsta B***h, a classic rap record that caused the culture to shift. Branch, now an actress and producer, reflects on Apache and gives an update on where she is in her life.
AllHipHop.com: I didnt know you were a real actress. Back in the 90s, if you saw somebody in a video, you figured they were somebodys friend or something. Did you start out acting?
Jeanette Branch: I started out as a dancer, but the thing about the video is the video is the video was the first time I was actually able to act. Not just dance in the video, not just be a girl in the video, but to actually play a role. I wasnt an actress at the time. The video helped me get that acting bug.
AllHipHop.com: Were you like the gangsta chick seen in Apaches video?
Jeanette Branch: Not to the core, but I grew up and was raised around those girls. It wasnt a hard stretch for me to play one. The girl in the video got down for her man. Whatever he did she was able to run and do the same thing.
AllHipHop.com: How close were you to Apache?
Jeanette Branch: I havent spoke to or seen Apache in years, really since not long after that video. Maybe three or four times after the making of that video. Being able to be around him and working with him on set. He was a very good dude. He was a kind caring kind of dude. Approachable. You can laugh with him. A real dude. It was so tragic, because he was so young. Too soon.
AllHipHop.com: How did you feel about the impact of that video? Obviously, people started to dress differently and females started to look at themselves in another way.
Jeanette Branch: I think he had a profound affect. Females started rocking bandanas a little bit. My mother is proud of the video. It had an affect on everyone in a positive way. It told females they could stand up and have a voice. You could go toe to toe with your man and stand by your man. That was a first of its kind. It was a good thing.
AllHipHop.com: Did you ever feel like there was a negative affect to the video? You were pulling out guns and machetes.
Jeanette Branch: I think Apache and them were amazing in the concepts that they came up with in creating that. All credit goes to Apache in creating that character and the impact. I dont really think it had that bad of an impact. I think it was more of a trend that came in and people ran with it and then it went back out. It wasnt like those girls didnt exist before the song. They did.
AllHipHop.com: Has anything else come out of that video for you?
Jeanette Branch: Not necessarily with Apache or Flavor Unit. It heightened my curiosity about acting. Thats what it mainly did for me. Im in LA. Im an actress. Im a stuntwoman. I owe all of that to that video.
Apache Gangsta B***h (story continues after video)
AllHipHop.com: Can you update people on your current projects
Jeanette Branch: One of my recent project, I played a role opposite of Ving Rhames, called Wrath of Cain, where I play the mother of his child. Gillie Da Kid plays our son.
AllHipHop.com: You were in a movie called Baller Blocking back in the day?
Jeanette Branch: That was in 99 definitely late 90s.
AllHipHop.com: How was that experience?
Jeanette Branch: We shot that in New Orleans. I fell in love with the city and the people. It was a wonderful period. At the time, Bling Bling was out and Cash Money was definitely on top of the rap game. They gave back so much to the city. They gave a lot of the clothes to the kids in the projects.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the female representation these days? Its considerable different than when you did Gangsta B***h.
Jeanette Branch: I supported everybody and what they are doing. Its definitely about a look now, instead of skill. But I dont knock anybody for what they are doing. I support everybody.
AllHipHop.com: you dont see the rugged look as much as the vixen.
Jeanette Branch: It is what it is. Music and Hip-Hop is ever changing.
AllHipHop.com: Any last comments about Apache?
Jeanette Branch: He was definitely a lyrical monster and I am glad to have worked with him.