Your born and raised in Brooklyn? How has that contributed to who you are?
Born and raised in Brooklyn. Lived in Crown Heights most of my life, and now I currently live in East New York. Everything! The culture of Brooklyn is very Hip-Hop and very R&B. So I think that I took a lot of my style and my swag from, if you will, growing up in the streets.
Who or what were your influences growing up?
The people on the corner in their cipha’s (that’s something in New York, particularly in Brooklyn youth – you know your rhyming, your singing, using the cipha on the corner). So I think it all started basically from the musical influences of the people who lived right on the block. Then it goes a little bit further to people like Lauryn Hill, Roxane Roxane, Queen Latifah, females in the business who have been around for a long time. Then it goes a little further, with my dancing, I trained with a company called Alvin Ailey and The Blade Dance Conservatory – so famous dancers; but the musical influences derived particularly from the streets of New York and then of course I grew up in the church, singing on the choir.
What motivated you to enter the music industry?
I had intense desire to write songs, and things of that nature. I also looked at the fact that this was the best thing I knew how to do, like school was never something essentially for me, so I kind of always wanted to do something creative that involved music and writing and I knew that the best thing to do at the time was to make a career in the music industry.
What is your earliest memory that you can remember where you knew you wanted to work in the music industry?
I recited a poem when I was five years old in front of a church made up of 400 people and the poem called “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. I said it with so much passion that no one understood how this little child, this little girl, had such a strong voice and could memorize all these lyrics, all these words. The reception I got was amazing and that same Sunday MC Hammer was there and he epitomized everything I wanted to do – he was singing and dancing on the stage – so you know when he was just bigging me up and everybody was saying that was amazing and I was just 5yrs old but I think ever since then that was something I wanted to do; and when I hit my teenage years I told my mom that when I get out of high school this is what I’m going to do.
What is the current “state of hip-hop” in your eyes? And Female Rappers in hip-hop?
I think everything has it’s time and for a minute now the voice of females saturating the airwaves have been minimal but I think that now it’s like the saturation of wonderful female emcees in Brooklyn that are coming out; so I think right now it’s a waiting period we’re waiting for that next big phenomenon and I think the next big phenomenon will be the music of women and I believe that’s coming real soon. Right now the current things that people are doing – people are doing and listening to what their familiar with – its going to come really soon 360 full circle from this music.
Is there any artist whose style you admire?
So many! I don’t even know where to begin, because I can take pieces from different people; like I can respect someone like Jennifer Lopez who came from the South Bronx, to being able to sell out stadiums with her vocal ability and her ability to dance and also to be able to sell out the box office with movies. The same with someone like Beyonce and Janet Jackson. Queen Latifah, to me, epitomizes what it means to be a true diva because she’s not afraid to push the envelope and doing different things. My girl went from asking “Who You Callin’ A Bitch” to being able to sing Jazz, that’s an incredible skill, talent, & patience. So I look at all the incredible women in the industry, as well as my male friends that are doing their thing in the industry; Pharoahe Monch, Busta Rhymes, Twista all of these people who I have relationships with that despite the odds, even though they are men it still was a challenge for them to really break-in. So I look at so many different people, not just the people that you hear about on a daily basis, like my man Pharoahe, here his record is not being played on a regular but he could go to another country and sell out. So I think it’s just so many different people that are bringing so many different creative and interesting things to the game and I hope to be amongst those that are able to sustain 15-20 years from now.
How would you describe your own musical style?
Very introspective but at the same time I love to dance so we have a full choreography set and I came out of the church so we have a full band. I love to hear what an organ sound like on the beats. So I think my style is a mixture of a lot of different musical influences that I’ve had from straight hardcore hip-hop to pop, to r&B, to gospel – it varies. But my messages, I think, never waiver. Sometimes songs may seem contradictory and odd to some people but there’s not just one side to an artist. We are, me in particular, very multi-faceted and I want people to think but I also want them to have fun when they hear a record that I put out. I know how I feel when I go to the club and it’s a banging beat but the person that speaking or singing behind it has something really, really uplifting to say, something that’s going to bring something to my life that’s what I think my musical influences are compiled of.
Can you describe the process and concept for the album?
Right now we are really concentrating on doing a mix-tape in conjunction with YoRaps. We had to go back and say I don’t want to shove an album in peoples faces and expect them to automatically pick it up I want people to know me and the way we’re going to do this is there’s going to be a free mixtape that people are going to be able to download all over the world; I’m inviting people into my life and I’m inviting people into my story and my story I think is impressive amongst a lot of 23 year old girls that live the life. The process is I’m going into the studio with my executive producer Rick Steel, who I have been with for a while now and he’s done a lot of records for a lot of different people like Usher, Ja-Rule, Ashanti and the list goes on and on. He’s a very musical person and we understand each other musically so when we go into the studio he already has four or five tracks for the day that already inspires him and he could figure that would inspire me. So I can go into the studio and I can go have fun, or I can bring all my homies into the studio with me and we can play a beat and I can rock on it. Sometimes I go into the studio and it’s just me and my assistant and I just want to sit there and I just want to write, I don’t want to talk to anybody, I don’t want to see anybody. I just want to get whatever heaviness that’s on my chest off. So it really varies but the process of creating the first mix-tape is going to be straight transparent. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, I’m not gonna hide anything. I want people to buy into me, like when you go buy a car, most of the time you want to take a test drive before you get it, so before I put something out to sell to people I’m gonna give you something for free so you can buy into the Tylibah movement.
Do you know how many songs your going to put on the mix-tape?
Yeah, but we were arguing about that because I wanted to put like 18 joints and he was like nah, we’re gonna do 12 solid joints, 12 solid records, 12 solid banga’s for people.
Do you have a title for the mix-tape?
My creative director is putting together a contest to be done with my friends on myspace and facebook, and we’re going to put up four or five titles and we are going to ask the people to choose because it’s really for them. So I have some ideas, but nothing concrete so I don’t want to say.
Why is “Y U Mad” the first single?
It’s such a grimey period right now, in my life in particular, but I think it’s a lot for so many people. It’s a recession going on, it’s hard times for right now for people and I think people need something to be able to smile about. So I want to brand “Y U Mad”…already in the hood people are asking people “y u mad?” like it’s a catchy hook and its something that get people to be happy, like “y u mad?”, just look at your friend and say that. It’s so much stuff to be depressed about I’m tired of being depressed, I wanna be happy so I’m asking myself and everybody that hears music “Y U Mad?” It’s a real pick me up record.
From idea to conception what have you learned during the process of creating this mix-tape?
Dedication, on top of doing the mix-tape we are do some projects, so this whole process of having to be transparent….I’m a virgo, so I’m very analytical and thinking to myself well if I do this and this, so we made a pact (me and Rick Steel), my producer, like when you come into the studio leave all that behind, leave the all questions and the unanswered, the worries, the concerns, leave all that behind. I think the most challenging part has been to get rid of all the idiosyncrasies, anxiety, whatever it is that I’m feeling and give the people what they want, and what people want is authenticity. People are tired of hearing bullshit, excuse me, people are tired of hearing stuff that are not going to inspire and help them get up out their situation. With some records I could shine, I could talk about this, I could talk about that but I don’t want a whole mix-tape about that, I want a mix-tape that’s going to be able to allow people to see themselves through me whether your male or female, black white, whatever. I just like to go in while creating music and just shed all of the stuff, everything that I’m feeling, and just concentrate on not being afraid to let people know who I am.
What effect, if any do you think the internet has had on music?
Grateful! I thank God for social networking sites. The internet allows artist that are unknown to get people hear you and jumpstart careers (i.e Sean Kingston). Slap your music up their and the world can hear it. I’m thankful for it and that ability for people to be able to have access to artist is a powerful tool.
Do you prefer performing for a small intimate crowd or a large stadium of people?
It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. You know I use to be afraid before I got on stage and my mom would be like “what are you afraid of like I don’t care if its five, five thousand or five million people I don’t care who is here you got to give it your all at all times, you got to give it your best.” Sometimes it’s a feeling and it also depends on how I’m feeling for the day. But no matter what this is what I do for a living, so I have to just shed whatever I’m feeling in that moment and give it my all because you never know it could be a crowd of ten people you don’t know who one of those ten people are, it could be the person that changes your life forever, you know what I mean? So to me it doesn’t matter at this stage in the game and I hope that ten years from now I still have that same passion. I don’t care, I can perform anywhere it doesn’t matter.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done on stage?
Took off my shoes; Get a hair clip in a minute; My eyelashes be running. I tell an audience in a minute if my lash comes off just pick it up for me, cause I’m gonna put it back on, I don’t care, I think it’s about baring my soul but I’ve taken off my shoes. What else have I done? I’ve stopped in the middle of a record because something wasn’t right. I had a really bad wardrobe malfunction last year where my breast popped out, like it was worse than the Janet moment. My breast literally came all the way out of my bustier and I had to just stop and laugh, like, I’m just like you see this ya’ll it was not enough heat. But I’ve done it all, girl, but I’ve always taken off my shoes cause I’m known to perform in stilettos…I’ve taken off my shoes a few times.
What are your short term music goals?
Right now we’re in the process of finishing my mix-tape with YoRaps and showcasing. I’ll be showcasing all around New York City for the duration of the summer. So my short term goals are to finish this showcasing process from now until the fall and then after that hopefully we would have taken it national going down south, going out to the west coast and collaborating with a few different artists out there and going to Chicago and recording some stuff with Twista. So our short term is just looking at the summer to the fall and showcasing here in New York and then taking it out to the west coast then to Chicago.
What are your long term music goals?
Is to put out the record, probably with the consent of an international entertainment label or a major and conceptual art company, getting the album out and then going on tour – going on a national tour.
Looking back 7yrs ago how have your goals or aspirations changed?
They haven’t. The goals they have intensified. Everyday I wake up and I want it even more than wanted it the day before. The only thing that has changed is my grind.
How would you define your “success”?
Success is a journey it is no destination, it is nothing. After the record goes platinum, after we sell out the stadium, after all of that stuff, there’s still stuff to do. That’s why artists that are around, like Tina Turner, who continues every time she puts out a record she can go platinum, or double-platinum – it’s because there is no destination. This is something ingrained in you you’re gonna continue to work and working comes in different shapes and different forms, so to be sucessful to me is just to continue, and to never give up despite anything, anybody, time of day to still be on the path.
What is your music philosophy or words to live by?
It’s off of a record by Mos Def and it says “There is a way no matter what people say“. It just sounds so cliché-ish but I live by it. You cannot tell me if I wanted to have three jets come right now to East New York I couldn’t have it. And his song just reiterates that “there is a way”. I don’t care what you want to do there is a way for you to do it, with nothing, no money, no help there is a way for you to find the money, for you to find the help. I live by that, I live by it every single day, I wake up with it and I fall asleep with it.
Final Quote. Message for our readers?
Stay consistent, stay focused, stay peripheral. You can catch me on every social networking site, twitter, myspace, facebook. You can hit me up, direct access to me all the time. Be on the look out for the “Y U Mad?” record and for me coming to a town real close to you. For people who are in New York that’s gonna be reading this, I really wanna see everybody who ever friended me or myspace me, or ever heard a record that they were feeling to come to the showcases cause we’re gonna shut it down, for real.