DJ Rap is one female DJ who doesn't seem to take issue with flaunting her gender as part of her overall image. Most artists get up in arms any time you start emphasizing that they're female, but Rap (AKA Charissa Saverio) accentuates her feminine appearance, dressing like J.Lo in candy bar commercials and rags like Maxim and Details instead of donning the standard pair of headphones in a Remix magazine spread.

French manicures aside, though, DJ Rap came up through some serious involvement in music (she's a classically trained pianist) in her native UK stomping ground. By 1990 she was an established player in Britain's burgeoning breakbeat/drum 'n' bass scene as a respected producer. Her first single, "Ambience: The Adored," sold over 40,000 copies before she ever even got behind the decks. The track was a springboard to a number of other successful singles and her popularity helped in establishing her own label, Proper Talent, quickly getting her up to par with Britain's highest-profiled DJs. Her years of work at her label and her growing fan base at home and abroad led to a major-label deal with Sony imprint Higher Ground, which released Learning Curve in 1999. Though Rap had years of experience behind studio monitors, Learning Curve was met with a certain amount of backlash from the drum 'n' bass community because of its blatant mainstream marketing and watery focus that didn't seem to have much to do with drum 'n' bass. The LPs that followed--Brave New World in 2000 and Propa Classics Volume One in 2001--put the focus back on her original drum 'n' bass and breakbeat productions.

DJ Rap now resides in that fabulous city we call Los Angeles and is gearing up for another release on Sony/Higher Ground this year. It's been over 12 years since DJ Rap first began making waves as a DJ/producer/label owner and she doesn't seem to be letting up in her career one bit. So forget about the photo spreads and TV commercials for a minute, and keep in mind that DJ Rap built much of her career and reputation by her inspired, lively DJ sets, some of which we'll get to check out this week. NICOLAE WHITE

DJ Rap w/Naha and Tamara, Fri May 23 at Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $12.