займ с плохой кредитной историей онлайн

A Conversation with Wendy Day (Pt. 2)


By Jimmy Ness

Wendy Day has seen it all. The 52 year old has spent two decades using her knowledge of the rap business to help create dozens of millionaires. 2pac, Pimp C, Eminem, and Slick Rick are just a few of the many artists that have trusted her expertise on industry politics. After being inspired by X-Clan and Rakim being jerked by their labels, she set up the Rap Coalition to negotiate deals, break unfair contracts and provide career advice. Some of her first deals were the biggest in music history such as Cash Money’s $30 million distribution deal with Universal and No Limit’s signing to Priority. In the first half of this interview, we chatted about what 2pac planned for his next album, Freddie Foxx putting a gun to Birdman’s head and 50 Cent crushing Young Buck. In part two, Wendy drops gems about Pimp C catching the New York subway, her role in Dr Dre discovering Eminem and the undisguised greed she’s witnessed in the music industry.

A strange pattern I’ve noticed is artists who’ve been screwed over become CEOs or label heads and then do the exact same thing to fellow artists.

Absolutely, I’ve seen that so many times that it doesn’t even shock me anymore. It’s almost like child abuse or domestic abuse where a child grows up getting beaten by their father and then when they have children they turn around and beat them even though they swore growing up they would never do that. It’s almost that same mentality and it happens more than it doesn’t happen. It’s more prevalent than you think.

Do you think labels manipulate rappers because sometimes their upbringing means they lack the required business savvy to be involved in the music industry?

You know, it could be. I wish I knew the answer to this because if I knew the answer I could solve the issue. I don’t exactly know what causes it because there’s a lot of guys that came from nothing to build real estate empires to pay their bills. It’s certainly prevalent in the music industry. Maybe it has something to do with fame, where somebody is such a narcissist that they desire the fame of screaming fans. Maybe there’s something involved in that narcissistic personality that says I’m not going to pay anybody. I don’t really know and I don’t know if that happens in the tech world or the world of people who make widgets. I can only speak for the entertainment world because that’s my world, but it’s prevalent and it’s definitely a problem.


You’ve seen a lot of exploitation and backstabbing in the music industry. Is it fair to say there are people who are legitimately villains for the way they’ve used artists for personal gain?

Yes, I would say that. Very much so. I remember when I was shopping DJ DMD’s deal before he signed to Elektra. The A&R guy at Sony and I wish I could remember his name because I would actually tell you, that’s how unbelievably bad this guy was. But he was at Sony at the time and he offered the deal as long as we kicked him back $50,000. The deal itself was $150,000 or $250,000, it was a pretty small amount of money. So basically he wanted a third or 50% of the money in order to do the deal and I had never encountered somebody being so basically extortionist in my career. It really shocked me. Another situation I remember was meeting a guy who was in Wisconsin and I can’t remember the name of the group, but I was breaking his deal with Universal. I was pulling them off of Universal and he said the group had signed a 50/50 deal with the A&R at the time, who was also the A&R of Cash Money. It was the price he had to pay in order to get his group signed and they were supposed to split everything equally but the deal had to be kept secret because as an A&R, he wasn’t allowed to have any ownership in anybody that he signed.

Have you ever failed an artist outright?

I haven’t, but I do feel a sense of failure that I helped to create some millionaires who turned around and didn’t take care of their artists. I feel maybe I didn’t pick the right person to help to get to that point. Although it’s not like I randomly picked them, they were in a position where I knew they could get to the next level quite easily. There’s part of me that feels a little sadness over that, so I would definitely call that a failure. But have I ever worked with an artist and have them not been able to make a living doing what they’re doing? No I’ve had artists that were making a living illegally then came to me to seek help and then I’ve helped them and they’ve got caught up in the street shit and ended up going to the feds or getting shot and killed, but I’ve never tried to put out a project where the artist has backed it up and done the work and it’s not succeeded. But I’m also really really fussy about what I choose to work on, I don’t pick projects based on my own opinion and what I like. I pick projects based on what I feel will sell to today’s fans.


You worked with UGK?

I did yes. I was more of a friend than anything. I was Pimp C’s friend and there was a point in time where Chad wanted to start a label called Underground Kingz Records. He came to me to help set it up and help get distribution for the label. The interesting thing was that Gipp from Goodie Mobb was going to be the person to run the label, which is kind of unique. When I suggest businessmen to run labels he’s probably not in your top ten, but he’s an amazing human being and I spent a lot of time with Pimp C helping to set up that label. It never came into fruition only because he couldn’t get Jive to financially sponsor it.

Pimp C seemed like such a unique character and he’s one of my personal favourites. It’s good to see him getting recognition as of late.

I agree, he was very interesting. He was very funny without meaning to be. Not in a comedian sort of way, but in a very human sort of way, he really saw the comedy of life.

Towards the end, he developed a bit of a drug problem and that was very difficult for me. Only because we were close enough that I would get calls at four or five o’clock in the morning, listening to him rant and rave. He would get frustrated of course. We all get frustrated in life, but most of it was drug induced. We would have meetings and he would stand me up. Sadly right before he passed away, I got so frustrated with him that I cut him off. So I hadn’t spoken to him in three months and when he passed away, you realize “oh shit I can never take that back.” But the cool thing about Chad is, he knew I loved him. He knew how I felt about him. I’m not shy. I tell people what I think, whether it’s good or bad so I did get the opportunity to tell him how I felt about him. He had the opportunity to tell me, he wasn’t somebody that was very open with his emotions. We were on a phone call with somebody that he was introducing me to and he told that person how he felt about me with me on the phone and I was surprised. I was like “wow, I didn’t even know he liked me.” It was kind of surprising to hear him talk about my attributes and that he cared about me as a friend.

It’s such a common occurrence in the rap industry for people to fall out and then make amends. I’m sure you would have done the same.

Yeah, we had fallen out before and it wasn’t the first time. Everybody kind of fell in and out with Chad, even Bun B. As I got to know him over the years, I realized that wasn’t abnormal. It was very hard to be tolerant at all times with Chad.


Do you have any favorite stories from working with Pimp C?

Probably the one that stands out the most in my mind is when he came to New York to visit me. When we first started putting the label together, he and Gipp came to town and I was bringing them to Brooklyn, to my house. Like I did with all rappers that came to visit me, I made them take the subway. I didn’t rent a car. I didn’t have a car service or a taxi. I made them take a subway with the people. I didn’t expect anybody to recognize Pimp C because UGK were really a Southern group that appealed to the South. But Goodie Mob was famous everywhere so I expected somebody to recognize Gipp. So we’re on this subway going from New York to Brooklyn and people were kind of looking at us trying to figure out who they were. Then all of a sudden some guy comes up to us when we’re in Brooklyn coming out of the train station and says “Aren’t you Pimp C?” And I was shocked because a fan recognized Pimp C before they recognized Gipp. It just really surprised me you know. This was in 1998 so the internet was in play, but not like is today. So it was still very surprising for somebody to recognize a Southern artist.

He [Pimp] wanted to see Beat Street, which was a store that sold all of the underground New York mixtapes. It was really cool, as we were walking in, we heard this guy say “Chad! Chad! Chad!” and I looked over and it was Dana Dane from back in the day. He recognized Pimp C and I was like “What! Does nobody know who Gipp is!?” It just really shocked me, that UGK would get recognized before Goodie Mobb.


Meeting Eminem

Wendy met Eminem rapping outside of the Atheneum Hotel in Detroit during a music conference in the early ‘90s, where she’d been speaking. She was tired after several hours on stage and waiting for Rhymefest to leave a cypher, so they could go to Denny’s. Several people told her about Eminem’s talent, but she was sceptical based on the lack of interest in white rappers. When Rhymefest got in the car, he handed Wendy Eminem’s tape and she nonchalantly threw it on the floor. He scolded her into giving the demo a chance because she was a fan of lyricism and a fellow Caucasian in the rap industry. Wendy put the tape in her stereo and was so impressed after just two songs that she made a rushed U-Turn through a highway median strip to go find Eminem before he disappeared. Denny’s would have to wait.

If you ignored Rhymefest telling you to play Eminem’s demo, you would have missed the opportunity to be involved in his early career?

I felt peer-pressured, because he was right. Right is right, and I live my life very fairly and very justly. So when he pointed out that I was doing something that wasn’t right, it made me look at myself. He is right, it is hard being white in this industry and I shouldn’t just judge a book by its cover. I should give this kid a chance, you know? At that point in time I was listening to everybody’s demos and I would have gotten around to it eventually, but he would have been long gone and I probably would have never found him again. Rhymefest played a very important role that day just by pointing out what’s fair.

When you were trying to get Eminem a deal, is it true the first round of demos you handed out were blank?

It wasn’t demos, it was when I was shopping his deal and I burned CDs to bring to the label. Every single one of them was blank. I didn’t know it though. I didn’t realize it. There was some sort of glitch where it [my computer] wouldn’t record. I didn’t know that, so I put together these lovely packages. I took them to the record label, hand delivered, and Rich Isaacson from Loud called me and said “Um Wendy, you gave me a blank CD.” And I’m like “what do you mean I gave you a blank cd?” He’s like “the cd is blank!” So I called another label and said “did I give you a blank cd?” And he’s like “I don’t know let me check” so he put it into his CD player and he’s like “yes it’s not playing.” So I had to go and re-burn all the CDs, but it told me that Rich Isaacson from Loud was the only person that listened to that demo.

White rappers weren’t exactly in-vogue during that time, especially after the fall out from Vanilla Ice.

Oh not at all. The Vanilla Ice scandal had been somewhat recent in the label’s minds. At that point in time, nobody wanted to sign a white rapper. I mean I couldn’t get this kid a deal to save my life. I tried for 9 months and then finally I thought okay, I’m going to need to do something to showcase his talent. It was at a point in time where lyrics were starting to not matter anymore. So I decided to do a battle called Rap Olympics because I knew that if I could get some recognition for Eminem, I knew that he’d have MTV News and I knew that he’d have BET news and I knew he’d have Source magazine and Rap Pages. I knew that as long as the media co-signed, the labels would then take him seriously because part of their concern was that the music industry and the media wouldn’t take him seriously. So I knew that once I could prove he had fans and that the media would support him, it would be obvious to labels that he had value. Unfortunately we never got him to that point because Dr Dre saw the value based on Rap Olympics. He saw the talent of Eminem from when he was on the Sway & Tech Show after rap Olympics and said “I want to sign this kid,” so I never really got to shop him a deal after that.

The prize for winning the Rap Olympics was $500 and a Rolex watch.

It was a bootleg Rolex, yes.

Haha! A bootleg Rolex?

It’s funny because I never shied away from that. I told everybody that it was a bootleg Rolex because I thought it was funny we were giving away a bootleg Rolex. I read an interview years later where Eminem said “I didn’t know if it was real or bootleg, but if it was real I was going to sell it and live off the money.” And I remember thinking how could you not know it was a bootleg, as much as I said it on stage. Really the prize was the $500, the bootleg Rolex was sort of like a joke because Rolex’s seemed to have so much value back then.

Weren’t Wu Tang meant to enter the Rap Olympics as well?

Yes, Wu Tang had a team but they never showed up. KRS-One had a team but they never showed up. Understand that it was in LA and each team was responsible for their expenses to get to LA. So a lot of people didn’t show because it was very expensive to get there. Ras Kass had a team. Project Blowed actually won, it was a guy named Otherwize and he was incredible. He was an incredible battle rapper and they actually won, but Sway & Tech decided to put my team on the show because they felt like my team of the five were all really talented. Of Project Blowed, of the five members, there was one guy who really stood out and four guys who were just kinda, sorta there. For some reason they didn’t put Project Blowed on the show, they chose to put my team on the show.

You’ve made many artists millionaires, have they ever given you some great gifts or gone out their way to show appreciation?

No, not really. Eminem sent me a thank you card. He’s the only artist that ever sent me a card to say thank you, which really stood out. Also when his first album went platinum, he made sure that I got a plaque. It was given to me by his manager and when Paul [Rosenberg] gave it to me, he said “Em wanted you to have the first one.” And I don’t know if that’s true or not, or if it was really the first plaque but I thought it was really sweet that they’d even think to say that.

When you saw Eminem after his deal with Dr Dre went though, you said to him “is it everything you thought it would be?” and he laughed before replying “it’s nothing like I thought it would be, I’ll be retired after my second album.” Why did he think he’d be retired by album two, because the money was so great he’d stop?

You know, this is hearsay because I got it from Proof. I didn’t get it from Eminem, but many years later I went backstage to one of the tours here in Atlanta. It was in 2005 and I don’t exactly remember which tour it was, Lil Jon was backstage, he [Eminem] was on tour with 50 cent, and I didn’t get to see Eminem at that point because I understand he had a pretty severe drug addiction. They pretty much kept everybody away from him, but I asked Proof why Em had not retired and why he was still doing something it appeared he no longer loved. Proof’s answer to me was that he had too many people that he had to feed. He had a management company, he had a touring company, so there were hundreds of people on payroll and the only way these people could make their living was if Em kept working whether it was touring or making albums or whatever. Proof said he just had so many people depending on him, that he felt like he had to keep going. I recognized that, because once when I spoke to Chuck D from Public Enemy he said the exact same thing. I asked him “what keeps you going after all these years?’ He said to me “You know Wendy, I’ve got 90 people on payroll that feed their families off of what we do.” At this point in time he was on his 33rd or 34th world tour. He said he was going to keep doing it until he couldn’t anymore. So when Proof said that’s why Eminem was doing it, I understood that because I had heard that before. I could relate to that.


You were a close friend of Proof and stayed in touch with him more than Eminem?

You know what it was, Proof stayed independent and independence is my passion so it gave us something in common. Also Proof was not a superstar so I could pick up the phone and call him. He wasn’t changing his phone number every five days and I could relate to him. He was just somebody that I genuinely loved as a human being, not to say that Em wasn’t a good person because he is a good person, but you know there’s just certain people you click with better than others. Proof was just one of those people for me. I clicked with him a little bit better than most artists so when he passed away I was devastated.

Read A Conversation with Wendy Day (Pt. 1)

Catch up on all NahRight interviews and features HERE.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

One Response to “A Conversation with Wendy Day (Pt. 2)”

  1. real talk Says:

    great read! thank you for sharing + writing.

Leave a Reply