Back in the day, long before Instagram helped turned models into stars, there were rap videos.

While Lila Galore and Thickest on IG have used Instagram to their maximum benefit, it used to be much harder for those who wanted to be an urban model or appear in a rap video. That's why trailblazers like Melyssa Ford, Esther Baxter and Vida Guerra deserve a lot of credit.

Arguably, one of the most popular models of that era is Gloria Velez, a New York born, Florida raised beauty of Puerto Rican descent, who was a rap video fixture in the 90s and early 2000s.

Velez has starred alongside some of rap and R&B's biggest names, and she has the resume to prove it. She's been featured in JAY-Z’s “Big Pimpin,” DMX’s “What They Really Want,” Sisqo's “Thong Song,” 112’s “Anywhere,” Jagged Edge's “Where The Party At,” and Ja Rule’s “Holla Holla,” which she called her favorite during an interview due to its exotic Brazilian location.

But before hobnobbing with some of rap's most elite artists, Velez started her career as a dancer for 2 Live Crew’s "Uncle Luke" as a teenager in the early '90s. At the peak of her career in 2000, Velez went on the road with Sisqo as a dancer, as well as NSYNC on the group's No Strings Attached Tour.

She also proved to be a smart business woman, and capitalized on her large male fan base with DVDs and calendars. But that wasn't all. Velez  scored huge jobs outside of hip-hop as well, including an appearance in Playboy's 2005 "Babe of the Month" section.

If that's not impressive enough, she appeared on Comedy Central Chappelle's Show and played herself on the VH1 reality series Real Chance of Love.

So how did Velez — who will turn 40 this December — go from being a teen dancer, to touring with Luke, to being in a video with JAY-Z? It was all a matter of  chance.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Velez explained during an episode of the now defunct BET show Rap City. “[I was asked] to be in JAY-Z’s “Lobster & Shrimp” video. He said he really didn’t like the girls in the video. So I was in sweats, ponytail and a baseball cap, he was like ‘She driving in the car with me.’ Then at the set [I met] Irv Gotti with his new artists Ja [Rule], and [he said] 'In two weeks we going to Brazil, you want to come?' I got my passport and ever since then it was video after video after video.”

In that same interview, Velez said she wanted to move on from videos and get into other forms of entertainment, which turned out to be music and rapping. After making her name for herself in the music world, she signed a deal with New York producer’s Tyrone Fyffe’s TyBu Entertainment in 2002. She later signed to Rodney Jerkins' Darkchild label.

Throughout her music career, Velez's gritty flow wound up on mixtapes, one-off songs and compilation projects, including Tony Touch’s The Reggaetony Album. She was also part of the all-female artist collective the Murda Mamis, which included Rah Digga and Remy Ma.

In 2010, Velez dissed Nicki Minaj in her song “Roger That," which raised a few brows.

"The only reason I went in on Nicki Minaj was because I made a little comment on a DVD that was my opinion, and she didn’t like it," she explained. "She started emailing and texting and fake twitter accounts about how something I did with another girl when I was 19-years-old."

Velez also went at her son’s father, Aaron Hall, on the diss song “Eulogy” after he said some disparaging things about her in a 2014 interview. The pair met when Velez was just 16 and Hall was in his 30s. After they split, she accused him of physical abuse and other forms of mistreatment.

So what has Ms. Velez been up to lately?

As of now, there's no signs of a major modeling or music project to mention, but just like the models of today, she's using social media to communicate with fans.

On her Instagram page, you'll find some new sexy photos— and physically she hasn't lost a step. But besides the titillating pics, there's inspirational messages on her page as well, and Velez has become a motivator of sorts.

“If you live off based in a man’s compliments, then you will eventually die when he criticizes,” she wrote on IG “Beauty starts at the moment that you decide to just be yourself,” she wrote in another post.

Since stepping out of the limelight, the gorgeous mom has been busy raising her sons, Aaron Hall IV, who's a rapper and Brayden who has health issues. In fact, she halted her career to take care of Brayden.

"So the one question I get constantly is why did I stop my career," said Velez in an Instagram video posted in November 2017. "Initially, that was for my son's father, Brayden's father. And then once I had Brayden, he had a lot of issues with eating and other things. I couldn't be on the road or have someone else take care of him. Plus, I didn't have family to help me as well. So I stopped everything to make sure my son gets better."

Even though Velez isn't a full time entertainer anymore, she should feel extremely accomplished for opening so many doors for today's urban model.

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