ATM: What kept you and the rest of the members in The Click consistent back in the day?
S: It was because we were cut from this cloth. It was because of coming from the atmosphere related to the streets and the urban world. No one was going to give us anything and they did not owe us anything. We had to always be better than other cultures. This was because of being African American and also being stereotyped. We always have to work harder. We always have to stay proud and make sure we represent.
ATM: Did any individual stereotypes affect you as a female music artist?
S: I reacted a different way at times. I learned how to better myself and not give them an opportunity to make any stereotypes. At one point, I damaged myself and looked at myself saying, “Is someone stereotyping me? Are they just stereotyping me?” Eventually, it became not caring about what people were saying. I was going to continue doing me and develop my personality in terms of spiritually, professionally, and personally. My gift and talent would continue to make room in growing into a better person while learning their issue and coming into this conclusion.
ATM: What is your definition on how your progression of music has changed?
S: I have a love and hate relationship with it. Music is more different especially when talking about the business aspect. Now it is more electronic. The message is a little freer. They present it more tactfully. It is much more glorified and also not necessarily glorified. Today’s music is pretty much similar to what we did 30 years ago. We had girls pimping, smashing, and not taking any smack. They were being strong hood women. There were different types of presentations that are still relevant as of today. More people have access to it quicker. Now, something that has changed is that they compare the younger generation to the older generation, especially with female artists.
ATM: Take me back to the emotions around the release of your debut album.
S: I felt good about it. From then to now, I have done 16 solo albums. It has never been a gimmick. I have always been to myself. I went through different layers, frames, characteristics, and appearances and just put them on a track. It is similar today. I am still doing the same thing. No regrets. I will continue to represent one of the first generational artists. I still see the same messaging that was created by me today.
ATM: How did the origins of your singing transform to you joining the music industry?
I grew up in the choir and singing in church. My grandparents, mother, father were all broke. They were all musicians. They were one of the first groups to put out an actual record. Records were popular over 40 years ago. I was already connected because of my lineage. I was already going to do music; it was expected of me. I was trained and coached in a choir. My grandfather owned a church. My father and mother were pastors. I was always a scapegoat for my aunts in having to do everything. They were pushing me in front of everyone when showing up.
I was trained to not be afraid of getting in front of people. I had to be bold. I was originally singing coming into the game. I was a tomboy. I was with my brothers. I am the only girl of five. I was a tomboy with them right on the block playing football and basketball. I was also there through the good, bad, and the ugly. They were Hip Hop heads. I knew all the different groups that were out. They played hip hop. It connected with me.
My father was a blues player. He originally started playing Jazz. The whole household had elements moving than the average household. Honestly, I am sick of hearing myself. I have so many songs. I have made close to a thousand songs over the years. I get a little annoyed when hearing my voice. This is what motivated me to do another song. My goal is to sharpen my skills such as in songwriting. So, I do not lose touch. I do not want to be that rapper where people say, “She was this and that.” This is another thing that motivates me. I do not want to be considered an old head. I want to make sure to be current.
ATM: This was not an escape for you. However, you became an escape for other women or individuals who could not express themselves. They could have been with how they dressed and looked. You presented this image to young people during this time and still today.
S: I definitely set trends, but my goals were not to set them. My goals were what was put on the CD. I was about these things at the time. This could have been a week or years of going through a particular feeling. It was all real. I was not trying to put on an image. I think this way today. This is because of a sense of maturity. I just did me. It was an escape for when keeping me out of trouble. I was very street down. I was connected to a lot of unhealthy circumstances. I witnessed a lot of killings. I have dated guys that got murdered. I have seen people get killed.
I caught a bullet myself. I was a thug. I was kept out of it when becoming a mother earlier. My brother E-40 introduced me to the option of joining the game. This allowed me to change my mindset. Of course, when you get super famous you have a responsibility. You have to behave a little bit. You have to realize you are doing it for the people. It helped sharpen my character and maintain being a professional businesswoman. At 18, I started a business with my grandfather. Especially coming off welfare. I did not care if it was 500 dollars. I knew to hustle up with be best. I knew the 500 was going to always be there. I did not have the time to play. I had kids mouths to feed. It was important for me to learn whether in music or getting a degree.
ATM: While first becoming a mother, the first moments of you being in the delivery room, what new things did you want to give your children?
S: Love was the first thing. There was also direction, consistency, and protection. These are the first things and automatic. To create a safe environment where they can be creative and grow. The understanding of spirituality. If nothing else did for them, then they would also pray to God. They can know something, or someone would save them. If it was for them to have a relationship, then it would develop. They would always have this whether I was around or not.
ATM: And did music affect you being a mother?
S: Not coming in. My daughters are in their 30s. There are a lot of things you do growing up in their age time. As a 16-year-old mother, I was not thinking about music or what it would do for me. As I got older and more mature, I figured it was a lot more than this. It became something without me realizing it. I never thought a million of my albums would be sold. I never thought my music would still be around 35 years later. I did not think about this as a young girl. As I got older, they became older. I did not care much about this. It was more about my time with them. I wanted to spend time with them. I was not going to allow music to take me away from my responsibilities.
My goals were for them to get to know me. I wanted to have time to spend with them and enjoy them. These are times like graduation. I could never get these times back. I put myself in a position to pull back a little to focus on my priorities. It has brought me to a great place today. My kids love me and know me. No one can say they raised my kids. If they act a fool, then I have no guilt and will cuss them out. They respect me. I made sacrifices for them, and they know this today. I made sure to not be enslaved by the mindset of the entertainment industry to take my opportunity and time away to raise my child.
ATM: Express the transition moving into the film industry from the music industry.
S: My brothers did a movie called Obstacles. I had no clue that acting would work for me. It was like okay we are a family, let’s try it. You throw it out there and hope it sticks. It came natural and this was the beauty of it. I give the credit to my brother D-Shot. Other opportunities came in between that were smaller. His was the movie that came out to the fans and a larger audience.
I had a relationship with a guy named Joe. He owned a magazine. I would love to find him today. I hope he is still alive. I met him at a Magic show in Vegas. He called me to say, “Hey, Suga no one is working on this project for MTV in LA with Claude Brooks. I can set you up to go to casting if you like since you are in the Bay area.” LA is about five hours away. I jumped in my ride and drove out there. Casting included Claude Brooks and others. After casting they said, “Okay, I will see you later.” I had no clue they would call me back. I left to go back home.
They called back to say, “Wait, you have to come back. Where are you? Did you leave already? We want you to be on the show.” I was like okay wow. I turned around and went back. I got the preliminaries together and went to go on the show. I was on the whole season. I stayed and wrote on the show, worked as an actor, performer, and voiceover. I was a regular guest star. I thought to be on only one show. I did not know the power of acting. It was just something to do to me. I was just trying to get back to my album, to be honest. I was in the process of producing it.
I had an independent label while also being on Jive and other labels. I still have it today. I ended up on the whole season. It was a successful show. They did not keep me for the next season. I guess politics came into play. They dropped the show. I was on there with Tracey Ross, Amber, and the original cast of MTV I acted here and there. I just did two movies last year called 16 bars and What Are the Chances? I have dipped and dabbed. Eventually, I will be consistent and also produce my own.
ATM: Take me back to the reaction of people when hip hop came out as a new genre in society.
S: It was fun and conscious. It was a way to express yourself. It allowed people to tell their freak. It allowed me to have a voice and speak abroad. It determined and represented their truth. You would join in to be a part of it or the change. It affected everyone different in the industry and behind the scenes. It was an opportunity for innovation and being a voice more than being cool. It was different than today. Today, it is about battles and fighting. Back then, it was like we are now cool and we do not have to prove. Let’s go make some money. People respected the game and also respected other people.
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