You have a new CD coming out on Valentine's Day next year. Tell me about it?
WANDA DEE: Well, this is my first solo album, and it's called Wanda Dee: The Goddess is Here. "The goddess is an image, she's just a creation; a symbol for all the women in the nations. That is, beauty, body, brains and sophistication can co-exist within glamorization... and there's a goddess in every woman." This is what this album is all about. It's about the support of the female deity and that's what's happening now... everything was so male, male, male, male and from a male's point of view; that's the world that I came up in--the hiphop world. It was a constant fight for me as a DJ, as a female in that world. You know, a lot of people just didn't believe I could do it, and I got a lot of guys who wouldn't let me on cause they didn't believe I could do it--until I got on, and they saw me deejaying and saw how good I was. Afterwards, they bowed and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't know you could DJ!" But I'm glad I came up that route, because it made me a stronger artist and it prepared me for what I'm doing now on the solo tip.
Were you always such a versatile performer?
WD: Yeah, I've always sung, since I was two years old. I just didn't imagine that I'd end up getting into the business through deejaying. That was my door in; then I became a rapper, then a performer, and that's when I got back to my singing, so that was the best thing for me 'cause I ended up learning from the ground up.
ERIC FLOYD: What kills me is they keep attributing Lil' Kim to being the first glamorous female rapper and that's really not the case. Years ago, Wanda... well, it was such a male-dominated industry and a lot of the girls coming out were adapting their behavior and style of dress to fit that male domination--sneakers, jeans, and gold chains and sweatsuits, minimal make-up. I said, "You know, Wanda, the only way to beat a man is to be the one thing he can't be, and that is a woman." We incorporated this high-glamour, Las Vegas, exotic, erotic, hypnotic persona, and it worked for her. It's the reason why her first two rap singles went platinum. This was way before Lil' Kim.
WD: And of course, when you're the first to do something it's not easy, and you take the slings and arrows, and boy did I take some slings and arrows!
EF: We'd go to events and female rappers would be there upset with her, saying, "You're making us look like sluts and selling our records with our butts!" But now if you look around, Salt and Pepa, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, everybody's glamorized. Missy Elliott has false eyelashes--it's no crime to be a woman!
WD: And it wasn't easy for me because I was too young to get in clubs so I had to go underneath the wing of Afrika Bambaataa; he got me into the big time as a DJ, so I thank him a great deal for getting me into the game.
Do you have any thoughts on where hiphop might be headed?
WD: Well, it's clear: it's in everyone's faces. I'm happy that it's grown so much. It went from just being in someone's basement, out on someone's street corner to now, on the TVs and radios of people worldwide. That is a tremendous accomplishment. Now people can retire on it; before, you're doing it for the love of it and hope and pray you get it. Now, they're selling millions of records, everyone owns real estate, businesses, and feeding peoples' families. That is tremendous.
EF: There are so many pioneers who started this game, and paved the trail that others now walk upon who didn't benefit. That's why each of us have a responsibility; I'm so glad that Will Smith and Latifah and others are reaching back and using some of the talents that didn't get those big paydays.
WD: I'm also glad to see that there are a lot more women who are able to be in charge of their careers and sell millions of albums and do TV and other mediums of the business. It's awesome.