20
Jun
09

remember suga t?


In 1995, I was graduating from high school, parking lot pimping in my first car and bobbing my head to that summer’s anthem Sprinkle Me. Now, when I think back about the piercing female voice (on the song) that was Suga T’s, I never thought that years later, in the year of hip-hop dominion, I’d be chatting with the Vallejo pioneer of female MC’s.

suga t

Suga T is every woman. Not only an accomplished rapper/singer/songwriter/actress, the businesswoman is also a jet-setting empowerment orator and CEO.

Foremost, however, Suga T is a hip-hop mom with fervent views on the genre’s lifestyle, influence and power over the nation’s youth.

Now after once topping the charts with The Click (her brothers E-40, D-Shot and cousin B-Legit,) Suga T is back with a solo album entitled The Game Needs Me.

After this conversation, you’ll certainly understand why.

Being a hip-hip mom, how do you distinguish between having a love for hip-hop and at the same time keeping your kids aware of the potentially harmful issues of the genre?

Suga: There was a time when I was younger and wasn’t as conscious of certain things, but I was able to catch things before they got too far. Then I became more mature and aware of the lyrics that showcased a negative impact. I made sure I started to live better and lead by example.

I started to educate them that you don’t have to have sex at an early age. You can wait until you graduate from high school, go to college and find husband material. I kept it real with them and shared parts of my life…and how they affected me, but in the meantime, I still kept going.

I made it clear to them that [entertainment] is just a part of life. They’ve seen me cook, wash and clean. They’ve seen me go to school and college and go through some drama as well. But it never lasted long.

Since the years when you and The Click were ruling the radio, what other endeavors have you been up to?

Suga: I’ve been doing the same things. I’ve been recording, writing, producing and consulting. I have a corporation where I do a lot of keynote speaking and youth programs, as well as adult empowerment and education. I also have a fragrance line I developed a few years ago. It’s an empowerment fragrance line put together on a Mary Kay type of format. There’s also a training component to it to give people development and entrepreneurial skills. We use it for a variety of other reasons such as fundraising and promotional events. You can also find my products and services at http://www.suga-tfragrances.biz.

So the rumor that Suga T had turned strictly gospel is not true?

Suga: Well, I felt very incomplete at one time in my life. After everything cleared out, I just decided to explore my roots. There were different transitions and challenges that came up  in my life to allow me to understand that there was only so far I could go with sex, money, alcohol, fame, glory and various other things around me that were temporary pleasures. Through the broken-ness, I eventually realized that there was something deeper… a more mature relationship with God. And when I did that, I was very complete and very much at peace and I decided to give something back to myself, God and to those that could use the same empowerment. So I put out my inspirational album calledBe About It, “The New Me.” This album is the message I teach in the Be About It Movement, which is my keynote speaking platform and youth and family service; http://www.beaboutit.biz . This album reassured me and was a challenge to the listeners, that as an African American Hip Hop Mom and example, that I don’t have to glorify only sex, money, alcohol and drugs and we are more than that…

It’s beautiful that you realized the false and transient pleasures of life. Now, tell us about your fragrance line.

Suga: It’s called Suga T Fragrances. Right now we are pushing the Sprinkle Me Collection. The signature fragrance is called Suga Water. Suga Water is a sweet smell for the strong woman. It comes on sweet and stays fresh and clean all day. We have the collection, Bleng Oils. B-L-E-N-G stands for Bringing Life Encouragement Nourishment and Growth. We have a couple smells with that called Boomin’ Berry, CoCo Luv and Poppin’ Nilla. We have another collection called Show Steala’ , that is a home and car fragrance line which has the Sprinkle Me fragrance and a three-way air blast that you can use for your car, room, office , lingerie or linen.  We also carry incense oils and candles. We do parties and special events and provide opportunities for people to distribute the products in a franchise type format in their territory and give them a chance to train and develop their business. It’s also a training component for teens and we’re looking for corporations that want to sponsor this program to give teens entrepreneurship skills.

How is the female rap scene in California right now? Is there any cream of the crop lady MC’s that you like?

Suga: I think that there will eventually be some that will come and I look forward to that. But, it’s bigger than just talent these days. There has to be a business aspect, some understanding, some personality, coercions and some educational components.

Growing up in Cali, you and your brothers were exposed to many talented starlets. What was it like working with legends like TuPac and Roger Troutman?

Suga: (laughs)

TuPac used to always come over to my house whenever he wanted some potato salad. (laughs) He loved to come over and sleep on my couch. He was great and very talented. He was a very blessed individual. My family was able to experience him as well.

As far as Roger Troutman, that was the most beautiful experience ever. We stayed at his home Troutwood for a whole week and recorded the songScandalous off our gold album Game Related. That was the first time that I got to showcase my skills that hadn’t been brought out before. He made sure that I did that. He was a very positive and focused guy. He didn’t allow any extra negative activities around him. He was very talented and a very pleasant person to work with. We also toured with him and I saw him rock many stages.

I have also enjoyed working with CeCe Peniston. She’s a real diva. I’ve enjoyed MC Lyte, Snoop and Da Brat. She really made a big impact on a male chauvinist world. When I was working on this national project, she came out and held it down for me. She was like, “Y’all gotta make sure Suga T represents too. I’m not getting on stage unless Suga T comes out.” (laughs) So she let me know that females do stand up and look out for each other in this game. A lot of us need to do that more often and people won’t always be able to leave us in the back and use us.

It’s great to see you have such tight and personal relationships with fellow female performers. Your group Triple Threat is composed of some other well-accomplished lady MC’s as well, right?

Yes…  I decided to partner and collaborate with a group of females in different aspects of the industry. So Spinderella’s my DJ. Ms Toi, Lady of Rage and (other females that have a like mind) are added components to the group. We all represent something different. We perform together and we do events. We’re repping my Be About It Movement, where I promote and make people aware of violence prevention, positive change and awareness to youth and families… We’re not working on an album yet. We do have some songs together. There’s a song on my album called Back It Up Daddy.

What differences do you see in hip-hop now as opposed to the nineties?

Suga: I think it has tremendously changed. It’s definitely a vehicle for those who may not have other opportunities in other areas of their lives to become successful businessmen as well as an opportunity to expose their talent and make a positive change in the world. That’s the positive side, but the other side of it is watered down with a lot of intangible things that are overrated and shouldn’t be glorified as more important than the things that really make our lives easier and healthier and more successful.

I think its very male chauvinist. But, there’s a lot of lead way for women.

What issues do you think female hip-hop artists are facing today? Have their concerns changed any?

Some of the things that we have to face now are misogyny, male chauvinism, narcissism and being under-estimated for our talents. We are under-paid, under-exposed and generally not respected and not represented positively in the media. We are more than our physical bodies. Some of us have brains andbeauty. Some of us have overcome challenges and by continuing to maintain a positive outlook on life, we work hard, have perseverance and faith in God.

It hasn’t changed that much, but positive change is needed.  I hope that people begin to look closely at the industry and how it influences our youth. Hip-Hop can’t survive without the female perspective because it creates a balanced voice to the issues and the industry in general. Music is a microcosm of the broader society. Although we’re making small steps forward, larger ones are necessary.

We have an African American President and a female Secretary of State, so we have made progress in society, but we need to make greater gain. Hip-Hop needs change agents. It’s time for the industry to evolve to a higher level of consciousness.

The genre needs to become more enlightened. What is the message that we’re really portraying? That’s why I titled my hip-hop album The Game Needs Me.

From our conversation so far about topics like female representation, male chauvinism and spirituality, I’m know our readers understand why the hip-hop game needs such a keen and resilient female presence like Suga T. Tell us about your album The Game Needs Me.

The first single was called Back It Up Daddy featuring Ms Toi. The second single is Original featuring my brother E-40. Other features are with Rob Base, The Click, Spice 1, Spinderella and Ms Toi. Track Kings affiliated with Bad Boy West, Mr. Payback and a few other producers were dedicated to the project.

My Lovin’The Game Needs MeThrow Dat Leg OutMobbin’ Thru Ya Hood. You can go to my website www.Suga-T.net. The new album The Game Needs Me is long overdue. After going through many personal and professional transitions and challenges in my life, I realized that the timing of when the album was released couldn’t have been better for me. There’s not a lot of females on the hip-hop charts. I felt like no new female talent was being developed and it was desperately needed in mainstream hip-hop. So, due to my past success with Sprinkle MeHurricane and Captain Save-a-Hoe, I thought it was my time to put out a new project and be an advocate and positive voice for women in hip-hop.  I think young, aspiring artists need role models and it’s up to the generals like myself and others to guide the generation on how they should behave and treat each other with love and respect.

You are also working on a book. When can we expect to read it?

Yes, it’s called Succeeding Against All Odds. It will be out spring 2009.

Can we expect a Click reunion with you and your brothers?

There’s a Click single on my album and we’re definitely expecting a future Click reunion soon.

What do E-40 and Suga T talk about when they’re just chillin’?

Suga: Well, not a whole lot because we’re [me and my brothers] all working, trying to keep our own lives and careers moving forward. It’s endless; the things that we do talk about. But, at the end of the day, it’s back to work and back to focusing on… how we’re gonna continue to make change in society and move our projects forward.

Personally, I was a big fan of the Lyricist Lounge and it was a thrill to see your appearances on the show. Suga T, Don’t you miss Lyricist Lounge?

I do. I miss it and I will be doing a VH1 show soon.

Any last words to your Click fans that are on their way to purchase The New Meand The Game Needs Me?

Triple Threat is available and I am available for speaking engagements and as a solo act. Don’t forget to visit Suga-T.net.

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