TV One’s UnSung premiered the untold story of Michel’le Sunday, July 15. ATM sits down with the R&B singer where she discusses the long history of domestic violence and alcoholism and a huge history with both Dr. Dre and Suge Knight. Michel’le also mentions moments in her life that were not the best and comes to some common ground with who she is today.
ATM: At the beginning of the UnSung episode, you say you were searching for love. Why?
Michel’le: I did not know if Dre was giving me love. I seemed to be searching for love while writing songs. I kept writing all these songs, but I was still in my self-conscious mind looking for it. I thought it was there.
ATM: How did love make you feel at this young age?
Michel’le: He said it to me first. When he said it I was like, “Oh my god, this is what it is like and this is the feeling.” When the first man says, “You are beautiful, or I love you,” you succumb to it.
ATM: Why don’t you have the title as the pioneer for female rap?
Michel’le: What Dre and I did was fuse the view of R&B on top of Hip-Hop. We did not even know what we were going. He tried to do R&B and I did not know Hip-Hop. It became the standard. It was doing a whole R&B song on a Hip-Hop track.
ATM: What fairy tale were you expecting or think you wanted?
Michel’le: When you see things in life, on television, things you do not have, you get to experience some of it. It is not the form of happiness you think it is. So, fairy tales are not everybody. So, anything that you think you are seeing on the T.V, you should instead search for yourself. It is not like this for everyone because some people become the fairy tale.
ATM: What was your response once you realized your singing voice was not over your larynx?
Michel’le: I was like, “Oh my god, I am never going to hit Denise Williams note.” I am thinking this was what I would be doing but that was not the case. I love the range she has. It seems normal to me. This is similar to when the British talk and they sing in English. I am baffled at that.
ATM: How have your children become your safe haven?
Michel’le: Once I got older my children. If you have children and bond with them, then they change your life. I think 90% of the women on earth can say this. It does not happen to all women, but it does happen. They became a safe haven for me in making decisions, choices, and patience. Also, wanting to do things right. My safe haven is where I am at any time of the day.
ATM: Describe how your mother’s treatment changed you as a woman at this age.
Michel’le: It did not shape me at all. I had no blueprint. Especially when I was dating a guy who was sleeping with a lot of women from day one. It seemed like it was not wrong. Right now, it is life. You have that person leaving that person for someone else. It is now normal in Hollywood. I was ahead of my time. I have learned now that you cannot love anything unless you seek first.
ATM: What is your definition of love today?
Michel’le: You have to receive me first. I do not want anybody to love me, but I want to be respected first. I want to accept you because this way I know you should be treated. So, I will not use the word we all loosely throw around called love. When you respect something you automatically love it.
ATM: I believe a lot of people throw the word love around similar to a loose leaf of paper without understanding or knowing the meaning.
Michel’le: Yes. You have to know the meaning of it. If you do not reach the meaning of love, then you do not know what love is. You cannot say you respect love and go to tell 15 different women you love them. (Laughs).
ATM: Right. A lot of people who say this do not even love themselves. This is where it starts.
Michel’le: Right and you have to love yourself. This is why I am single and happy. I have learned to love myself. I can go places by myself and still have the same type of happiness as if I was with someone else. If you are not whole before you meet them, then there will be a problem. They can come and help you with some of your obstacles good or bad.
ATM: It is hard to do this because Hollywood commercializes love so much through television and other forms of entertainment. Whereas, in real life, it is not like the fairy tale. Love depicted on television is different than real love.
Michel’le: It is a fairy tale. It is an open marriage. When people know, they fake it to make it look like it. Saying this is how it is supposed to look. A white picket fenced, and you open the door to the nice car. If you can only see what happens behind these closed doors, then you would be shocked. Now when I look at people I say, “I do not know what is going on in your world, I know what you are showing me.” I do not judge anymore. You see them getting out of a nice car and you do not know what is going on.
ATM: When I talk to adults they try to convince me their lives are perfect. I respond by saying, “No one life is perfect.” They look at me like I am wrong. Everyone has trials and tribulations that they go through. I am not sure why people dabble with perfectionism. When nothing is perfect in this world.
Michel’le: Rich and poor you will have issues. You are going to go through every emotional issue. Especially if you are a sharing and compassionate person. When you are rich you pay for it to go away faster because you do not want to deal with it. You become isolated and began to live in your own world.
ATM: Do you think the lack of love from your mother triggered attachment issues?
Michel’le: I asked my mother once I got older, “If you were struggling already with three children, then why would you have another child?” She said, “because I was lonely.” I said wow because this was deep. She probably was at this time. This is when she had a credit card given to her by the man that did not work. It was not just my mother. My father never told me he loved me. He was not the hugger. It defined who I was. I could not learn something that was not taught. The grandparents are doing their best to give you the love that they know you are missing. This is the cycle. Now they are trying to make up with the grandchildren.
ATM: It seems your mother had you to fill a void of loneliness. Do you feel this is wise?
Michel’le: I do not think it is wise, but people do it. If you are struggling with three, then why would you struggle with four? This was my thing like, “who does that.” I would not do this. People do this and have baby after baby. People have babies for different reasons. Babies change your life for many different reasons, which are good and bad. Be ready. I am now a single mother with my 15-year-old daughter and it is hard.
ATM: I do feel single mothers do not receive the support and recognition like they should. Let’s move on. Do you feel your affection and attention from your father foreshadowed your relationship with men?
Michel’le: Absolutely. I did not understand or grasp the idea of it. Now, that I have knowledge and wisdom it is different. You have the knowledge but not the wisdom to know how to do it. Yes, this impacted my life. It took 20 something years to put these thoughts together. Now the man that I am looking for is being built.
ATM: In this episode of UnSung you said you, “have everything and nothing”. What was considered everything and what was the nothing?
Michel’le: I had every material thing and could do anything in the world. I had what people considered, “I made it.” In the inside, I had absolutely nothing at all. I had no one to share it with. I had no real love. They give you the money and gold, but you do not see them. They give you the key and you spend your time shopping to keep everything going. You become that robot of existence. From the inside you really do not have the things you want from the soul both emotionally and from the heart. Everything materialistic was there.
ATM: I know that with both Suge Knight and Dr. Dre you did not have a good experience. Explain their depiction of how they treated or loved women including you.
Michel’le: Dre’s definition of love was you do as I say. You have one job. Suge was the romantic and family oriented. He came from parents who have been together for about 60 years. He came from know what this was. You would not think so. He had A LOT of women. During Valentine’s Day, we all got a heart shaped cake with his picture on it. The same cake girl! The same cake!
ATM: (Laughs). Wow. Why was Suge afraid to love just one woman?
Michel’le: I think he loved the joy of watching women being loved. Watching their face glow when he surprised them a car. You have those type of men who love every romantic moment. Dre was the type of guy who said, “Hey, I wanna be Dr. Dre.” (Laugh). You know what I mean?
ATM: Yes. Describe some of your and Dre’s conversations about Suge?
Michel’le: I had three conversations before not speaking to him again. He was engaged to Nicole at the time. His was kind of a slap in the face. He tried to talk me into being his mistress. Yes, being his girlfriend on the side. I was like, “How disrespectful that this could come out of this mouth?” You were supposed to love me. People think it was some kind of triangle with all of us together, but it is not true. Dre and Suge have never had any confirmation about Michel’le at all. Never.
ATM: But this is all that commercialism tries to make it seem. Wow. When he first hit you did it shock or scare you?
Michel’le: It was shocking because it was the first time that I got hit by a man who I thought was supposed to love me. When my father whipped me, did I take it as love or I need you to know to do that again? So, when Dre hit me I felt he was trying to discipline me. I thought my father could whip me, but a man could not. I was a bit confused. As an adult I begin to rationalize this.
ATM: Mentally Dre’s hitting became the same hitting as your father. You mind fused it into one definition. You thought this was all discipline.
Michel’le: I thought he was showing me the same type of discipline and love. That I would be good. This is why I thought it was not a big deal. You know what I mean? I did not see this as wrong or anything at this point. I did not think it was something to not talk about (Laughs). We never had the conversation about why he beat me or hit me. The reason why I never asked was that he was always intoxicated. I took it as he drunk too much because he would never hit me while sober. When I knew he was drinking in the early days, I found myself trying to stay out his lane until I started drinking. By this time, it was like two bulls in a china shop. I was ready for him. Once I knew he was coming home, I went to get a couple of shots. It did not hurt anymore. The next day girl the bruising made me feel as if I went to the gym.
ATM: Rather than asking him why he hit you. You took it upon yourself to fill in his answer.
Michel’le: Yes, we never woke up to have the conversation about it. The only thing I would ask him today is, “Why did you beat me?” As women, we know why and want to get down to the point to help. We are busy being beaten into submission. We are so busy figuring out what is wrong with us. Women are so busy with fixing themselves that they forget to help the men.
ATM: I feel a lot of women in abusive relationships are afraid to ask this three letter word “why?” Because they do not want to escalate the problem. They have a fear of their teeth getting knocked out or getting beaten again.
Michel’le: That is exactly how it works. The man is not going to apologize. They feel ashamed, but they do not verbally say it. The flowers make you say “aww” but you start all over again next week.
ATM: These types of men are too egotistical to say sorry. The flowers become their way of sorry. Maybe they feel their masculinity will be ruined because women are the ones to say sorry mostly. Women express themselves more than men.
Michel’le: I definitely agree.
ATM: Describe the first night you cried.
Michel’le: I went to the bathroom to look at my face. I cried myself to sleep. He was holding me during this moment. He gave me money to go buy sunglasses. I was appreciative of this because I could not go outside of like this. A lot of people do not make it.
ATM: How often did you drink?
Michel’le: I did not drink in the beginning. Dre introduced me to hard liquor. I would go out about four nights per week. After I had my son. I was hanging out in Hollywood. You had to get your body time to heal up because you would get sick.
ATM: You feel free! Be happy! Live life. You do not owe anybody no explanation for how you want to live. You only have one. (Laughs).
Michel’le: (Laughs). Yes, girl!
You asked me questions in a different detail than anyone else. You allowed me to explain them to you in a different narrative, which is refreshing. (Laughs). I do not sing sad songs anymore because this not who I am. I am happy.
Michel’le is working on her long-awaited EP and other projects. This EP will have different styles to her musical history. Her episode on UnSung showed moments in her life that are unclear. Michel’le has never stopped loving music.