Angela Yee has been a Staple in Music and Culture for two decades. The famed Media Virtuoso, Entrepreneur, and Sexy Intellectual speaks openly as always in Her L&R Exclusive. Really wanna know? #AskYEE


ANGELA YEE COVERS

LOOT & RIOT MAGAZINE

Ink Tone Swep
Images Isadora Bravo
Creative Director Samara Powder
Looks Jazzlin Raquel
Asst Looks Mkenzie Nicole
MUA Shanell Sorrells
Hair Brandi Parks
Special Thanks to Art Curator Mandy Lopata
Location Wonder World Art Museum, Manhattan

It seems any conversation with Angela Yee must necessarily begin with hip-hop, where you have been a centerpiece for two decades, starting as an ambitious Brooklyn teenager. It’s changed a lot, some would argue for the better business-wise as more artists are sharing ownership of their work. At the same time, many criticize sub-genres like mumble rap and also question the mass commercialization of the genre and its resulting cultural appropriation. Where are you with the state of hip-hop? Everything evolves and changes with time. I remember hearing how difficult it was for Wu-Tang to get a deal because they were told no one would want to listen to that type of gritty sound, or hear about smoking weed. Then Cypress Hill blew up and that theory got debunked. And historically the older generation thinks the younger generation’s music is trash. When I think about how I grew up listening to Salt n’ Pepa, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, and Wu-Tang, my parents couldn’t relate to that. The business that I’m in has me hearing what the 20-something year olds are doing, and it’s just their own expression of the art form… I do think that people glorify how easy it is to make a beat and write a rhyme, and that there should be more care and thought when it comes to the actual work, and I do think artists need to work on their performances so that it makes you like the album even better instead of saying: ‘I’d rather just listen to the album than see him or her perform.’ And I also believe the potential for hip-hop artists to become rich off of their craft is a necessity. I’m happy that what was once underground has now taken over the mainstream and created bigger opportunities for us… As far as cultural appropriation, it can be infuriating when things we have done for decades or even centuries, all of a sudden gets credited as a fashion statement or new fad for white people. Sometimes what they take are things that we have been criticized for, or even certain hairstyles that are banned in the workplace. For example, when Kendell Jenner wears Timberland boots it’s called high fashion but when we try to get in certain restaurants or parties they are banned. That’s what is annoying.

From superstars Cardi B and Dej Loaf to Nicki Minaj and Young M.A, and then to so many emerging female rap stars such as Cuban Savage, Dreezy, and Kash Doll, there haven’t been this many successful women in rap, ever. But do you feel this current group stands up to the Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill, Eve, Foxy Brown, Trina era? Both Cardi B and Nicki Minaj have been breaking records when it comes to the Billboard charts, and being bosses as well. I never think it’s fair to compare the women today with the women who laid down the groundwork for these artists to become successful. I also feel that in this social media era, it’s even harder for women who are constantly getting critiqued, compared to each other, and on the blogs for negativity. Imagine how scarring that can be for these women mentally, when you can’t even post anything without some troll trying to drag you. It’s exhausting. But I can’t wait for the day when these women are just artists, and not female artists… Young M.A has been important because while she certainly isn’t the first openly gay rapper, she is the first one who has had that level of commercial success. And as we should all know by now, representation matters. This should help artists and executives see that you don’t have to fit an ancient mold of who an artist has to be.

Earlier this year you spoke with Pusha T about his beef with Drake; their recent disses aimed at insulting each other while upping those streams. This isn’t the 50 Cent versus Ja Rule or Tupac versus Biggie beef eras obviously, so there’s likely no violence associated, but is beef still relevant in rap? Beef will always be relevant in rap because rap is competitive. Artists also know that beef records get the most streams and attention. We can see that with the recent Machine Gun Kelly versus Eminem shots. With Remy Ma versus Nicki, Drake versus Meek and the list goes on. People aren’t always going to get along, and truthfully as long as you keep it at music then that’s fine.

You recently took a sojourn halfway across the world to South Africa. Tell us about your experience. How did making that physical and spiritual connection with your roots affect you? How was the trip home? What I loved about our trip to Johannesburg was that I was able to share that experience with my friends who are really close to me, and that we did more than just work. When you get to actually see places that you read about it’s a very surreal experience. We had a chance to go to the Apartheid Museum, Mandela House, and Soweto and learn the history of oppression and the struggles still going on now. We had a chance to see the beauty of South Africa and meet some phenomenal artists who are loved and supported, and love and support each other. I was angry at how greed allows some people to treat others like they aren’t even human beings. I left there wanting to go back, and wanting to just be a better person.
You were a top academic prospect coming out of high school. How did Wesleyan, a private liberal arts college in Connecticut, manage to recruit you out of the tri-state area? What about that University was attractive enough to pull you away from competitors like St. John’s, NYU, Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Syracuse? In hindsight, what advantages have you experienced as a result? First and foremost, Wesleyan has no core curriculum so I didn’t have to take classes that didn’t interest me to fulfill certain criteria. And I always knew I wanted to be a writer and the classes I was able to take there were perfect for me. I took a playwriting class, screenwriting, Shakespeare, photography, and of course some fillers that were easy A’s to balance it all out… One thing that bothers me is when people act like college doesn’t matter. I agree that you certainly don’t have to go to college if that’s not where your path takes you, but last week I was on a panel where we discussed raising capital, and one thing that really stuck out to me was the alumni connections available to you. One of the panelists stated that when he was raising money he stuck up the alumni from his University, and managed to get a check for $3 million from a cold call. I still haven’t made a call like that, but I know I can. I’ve also gotten so many checks and freelance jobs courtesy of my fellow Wes alum. Maybe even enough to pay back half of those loans!
As the one female member of the now legendary Breakfast Club morning show, you do a great job of making the show about three radio personalities with ideas and inquiries instead of two men and one woman. You never play the victim, like I’m the girl don’t pick on me. How do you maintain a healthy balance of representing a strong woman’s perspective without coming across as a self-interested, embittered feminist? I have come to realize that there will always be things that the men I work with will never understand. I can’t talk to a brick wall about experiences they haven’t had or ones they simply don’t care about. It’s always choosing your battles, and making sure anything I feel strongly about gets voiced. There are people every day who hate that I disagree with one of them and tell me to shut up, and people every day who tell me I don’t disagree strongly enough. You can never please everyone and if you try you will drive yourself crazy. I just make sure in real life I put the work in to accomplish what matters to me. If you support me I love you and if you don’t, I’ll live. But the main thing is that I am not ashamed of the opinions I have and I have always been true to myself. When it comes to my core values, I have always been an honest and generous person, so you can’t go back in the archives and see that I acted one way then but now I’m fake woke. There are so many people who are opportunists and representing causes for the connections it can bring or for public perception.
How do you avoid over-politicizing current events? Because you have the platform and audience, so you could use it to advance your own agenda, but you don’t do that. You remain bipartisan, even, fair. Why is that important to you? We are radio personalities and not necessarily broadcast journalists, so we do have opinions and biases that we openly discuss. The one thing I don’t have is a hidden agenda. If I’m friends with a person or have any loyalty I have no problem stating that, and I would never let my job allow me to turn my back on someone I care about. I can simply not comment or defend that person if I feel inclined to do so. I would never put my profession over who I am as a person. With that being said, I also believe in being fair and not passing judgment. And I’m aware that as a woman my opinion comes from my experiences which is different than the guys. I have also met people from all different walks of life and have empathy for those journeys.
The last time we spoke you’d just purchased a new home in Brooklyn; said you looked in Marcy but the new condos were in the multi-millions, cost-wise. As a Brooklyn native, how do you feel about the continued gentrification in your city? The pros are obviously if you are fortunate enough to own something then you have a great investment on your hands. There are more restaurants and stores, the streets are cleaner, and the houses are getting fixed up. The cons are that people who have  been here for generations are getting pushed out and even disrespected. I want us to own businesses and reap the benefits of the money that is coming in to our community. I want businesses to respect us and not cater to only the newly implanted consumers. The main reason I opened the juice bar in Brooklyn is to have a place that welcomes everyone, but really caters to the Brooklyn OG’s.

Right, your popular Juice Bar, Juices For Life, is in Brooklyn. Right on Malcolm X Boulevard, it has become both a local favorite as well as a tourist must-see. Firstly, congrats. And secondly, to what do you attribute the bar’s success? It’s been a blessing and I think part of the success is due to the vibe as soon as you walk in. It’s beautiful. We have a living room area with a sofa and flat screen TV, there’s a Gucci Ghost mural on the wall created by Trouble Andrew, there’s a library and a backyard. The employees are knowledgeable and can answer whatever questions you may have about sea moss, wheat grass, cold remedies, weight loss, weight gain, energy, etcetera. We have a Sonos system with some great playlists. And the main thing is the precedent that Styles P and Jadakiss have already set with their other three locations. The juices are delicious, all fresh with no added ingredients, and made to order right in front of you. We do a lot of community events, like Wealth Wednesdays, pop-up shops, pop-up art shows, HIV testing, and anything we can strictly out of love for our people.

You don’t age. And you are always in great shape. I think you and Pharrell secretly co-own a fountain of youth ya’ll ain’t told nobody ’bout. Easily one of the busiest professionals in the entertainment industry, how do you maintain such a healthy lifestyle? Do you have a strict fitness and dietary regimen? I’m definitely not strict enough, but it’s all about balance. One thing that helped me was meeting Coach Gessie and the detox doctors, Dr. Amsu and Dr. Amun, and doing their 14 day detox. It really changed my perspective on food and my eating habits. I also haven’t had red meat in 25 years, pork in about 30 years, and have never eaten seafood. Unfortunately, I do love any and every dessert. I’m also a product junkie and experiment with cleansing products and lotions all the time. I can’t understand how people just wash their face with regular soap and don’t moisturize. And again, those morning smoothies give me life every day!

Lip Service is the most popular sex and relationships podcast out, by far. It’s the go-to for urban celebs to show that sexy side by discussing their most intimate relations. How fun is it to see your creation blow up like this? I want to see Coco and Ice T on there now, with your new format. We did have Coco and Ice T on when I was at Sirius, and that was a great time. Lip Service is essentially a fun way to talk about topics that are normally considered taboo. It’s educational, and really gives a better understanding of the opposite sex. There is probably no topic we haven’t addressed. When we get celebrities to open up about themselves in a safe space with conversations they haven’t had publicly before, it’s a win for everyone. I stopped doing Lip Service when I left Sirius but after a few years there was still so much of a demand for it and no one else in that space, I felt I had to bring it back. It’s a labor of love for sure. We mix it up with sexperts, artists, actors, athletes, porn stars, video vixens, reality show stars, producers, and anyone with a story to tell. I love when we have someone on who people assume would be closed off, like YG or Dave East, and instead they are down for it. We were so excited when Trina came on and didn’t want to leave, or when Blac Youngsta came on and was so comfortable he got tipsy with us and he doesn’t even drink. He’s been on three times so far.

If it was announced today that an Angela Yee syndicated talk show was premiering on television soon, no one would be surprised. Especially after we’ve seen you co-host The Real so well, and saw their ratings for your episodes increase as a result. Is that the next move for your career? Seems like the natural progression. I would love to do more with Lip Service, which we are working on, and I would enjoy doing more behind the scenes. I’m producing a documentary right now which is my baby, and we are doing everything out of our own pockets. I feel like I’m ready to be more of a writer, which was always my first love.

Your Book Club has taken off as well. How was your collaboration with Atria Books for Book Con? And congrats on your partnership with Barnes & Noble. Talk a bit about how this is coming together and your reading enthusiast initiative. You collect books as works of art. Again, this was just something organic for me. I had a meeting with Tasha from Atria Books and I mentioned that I would love to do a book club. She got so excited about it and really encouraged me to collaborate with them to make it happen. We did the first one at my house at the dining room table. Then I mentioned to Tony Forte that I was doing a book club and he offered the space at his store, Woodstack Ivy, and made a whole website and banners for it. It’s so important to have people around you that can help implement ideas. It’s one thing to have great ideas, but actually executing them is the key to success. And knowing that you can’t do everything by yourself.

That is sound advice and very true, it takes a team. You are also in collaboration with the New York Public Library in some capacity. I was named the ambassador for the New York Public Library. I’m in the beginning stages of planning initiatives to get students from the public schools in New York more excited, and to check out their local branches and become leaders in promoting reading more for their peers.

It’s undeniably Yee Season. You’ve worked smart, and hard, and been consistently career focused amid common distractions that would have slowed the progress of most. Very proud of you for that, you’re exciting. How are you rewarding and spoiling yourself – besides those 400 pairs of designer shoes? I feel like I don’t have enough time to handle all the things I would like to, and that I have so much more I need to do. But one thing I do is make sure I take a few days off here and there to recharge myself. Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of more than one day, so I will plan a spa day for myself every couple of months to make sure I don’t lose my mind. Shopping is still a habit, and I make every excuse to treat myself.

Much has been said about the Me Too movement, women are speaking out and the patriarchal structure seems to be slowly but surely crumbling as a result. Do you think there has been significant progress in this area, or do we still have a long way to go in order to achieve equal treatment? We still have such a long way to go. People would have you believe that women lie about being sexually assaulted all the time, when in reality it’s about two-to-eight percent of the time. Trust me, zero percent would be better but we can’t let that distract us from the women who will never come forward because of public crucifixion, from the women who weren’t able to prove it, from the women who lost their livelihoods and struggled with mental health issues because of it and will never be the same. I can’t imagine putting myself out there for people to call me a liar, a whore, tear apart my life when I’m already the victim. Even when 60 women come forward from all different walks of life, and say that they have been assaulted or drugged, people still believe it’s a conspiracy. People’s infatuation with celebrities will have them defending them to the death. I don’t think this helps women who want to speak out. Women need support. Look at all the women who were assaulted for decades by Harvey Weinstein and he is just now getting charged.

August 28th is officially Angela Yee Day in New York City. That’s amazing. Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray presenting you with such a reward for your efforts, collectively. Has that sunk in yet? What does it mean to you? I was shocked when that happened. I thought I was being honored, which was already amazing for me, but when I was standing behind the stage waiting to speak I saw the proclamation which stated that August 28 is officially Angela Yee day in NYC. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, can I see that please?’ I couldn’t believe it! Now I’m already trying to figure out what we can do to make sure that day is special every year.

Let’s close on a metaphysical note. Can something come from nothing? Or is the fact that there is something, mean that it, or they, had to come from something? There is no such thing as nothing. Something can come from very little, but if nothing exists at all then there was no presence to begin with.

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