Queen Latifah: Long Live The Queen

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Trav'lin' Light
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MP3: How is everything? You excited about this new album or what? Latifah Yeah. I'm so excited. What can you tell us about it? I know this is your second album singing, and that you worked with a lot of different artists. What can we expect? Yeah, well, I think you can expect, hopefully, you know, first of all, this is a good cohesive album, a good vibe. Definitely some excellent musicianship on the album and hopefully some wonderful vocals that you can just enjoy. The tracks I've heard off it so far have been great, really, really good. Well, I'm glad to hear that. I'm glad to hear that. I mean, I really like this album and I guess I'm, I mean, I ought to cause I made it, but, I mean, there're songs that I really love, love, love on this album. Like, "Georgia Rose," it makes me want to cry every time I listen to it. And, you know, songs like "I'm Going to Live Until I Die," which just inspires me, every day. You know what I mean. "Traveling Light," which to me is a song of survival and it's inspiring in the sense that you can break up with somebody and it's gonna be okay. Right, right. Exactly. You always hear these breakup songs where, "I'ma to die without you and you know, life is over!" Well, it's not always over, life's just changing. And was it, I mean, since this was the second time out for you doing like a full on singing album, was it a little bit easier or did you feel a little more comfortable going into it than last time? Absolutely. I definitely did. I mean, I really feel like, thankful that I put that first one out and I had a lot of support. And like, I had the opportunity to go out and tour with it on the Sugar Water Festival with Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. You know, because I was really able to get comfortable singing on the stage in front of a bunch of people and just, you know, getting used to my voice again. It felt like I, you know, was so used to rhyming and splashing it with singing, because that was what I actually got a deal doing, you know. And I sang before I rapped, so it was nice to just get back to just singing a song and letting myself fall into that place. I mean, when you sing a song like "Lush Life" it's just, you have to let your imagination go and drift off to where that place is. And when you sing something like "I Know Where I've Been," that we licensed from the Hairspray soundtrack, I mean, it has such meaning, but it's such a deep song that you just let yourself fall into it, you know. I know you were saying that you used to sing, you know, when you were younger, before you got the deal rhyming and stuff. Throughout those years when you were putting out hit records, doing stuff with the Flavor Unit and whatnot, was that always something that was in back of your mind, that you always wanted to do a full vocal album? Oh, definitely. That was always in the plan. It was always something I wanted to do. And I think that's why my albums are so musical, because I just cannot stay away from the music. Like, for me—and it was difficult because I came in at a time when a lot of music, especially coming out of New York, was just beats and rhymes. Right. A sample turned into a four bar loop, and you rapped over that loop. It was the same loop over and over. Very minimal. You had a chorus that was a phrase you said over and over, or it was some type of sample, and that just never satisfied me. You know, I always heard melodies and I always heard harmonies and I heard notes, you know. And I was like, you know, so I was always constantly interjecting music into, you know, a melody into my hip-hop. So, you know, that's why you got a "Ladies First," that's why you got "Come Into My House," that's why you got "U.N.I.T.Y." "Just Another Day." All singing hooks. Totally. You know, because that was what I was feeling. Now, I wanted to ask you, I mean, obviously, the last album was hugely successful. I'm sure this one is going to be as well. I hope so. You just got an Emmy nod, congratulations on that. You're doing the movies, going hard with that. Do you ever think about going back and doing another rap record? Oh, definitely. You know, like, definitely. [laughs] Nice. I got rap joints right now I could whip out and email you. Awesome. Right on. You'd be like, "oh, snap, she was serious." Yeah, I mean, you know, I feel like this, I feel like I am hip-hop, as much as KRS-One is hip-hop, you know. I feel like I've taken it on my back everywhere I've gone, you know, and expanded it and taken it into new directions. And show what we can be capable of. So, of course, you know, rap is always in my mind, you know, any time I'm at a rap show, I'm always thinking of lyrics. [laughs] I'm always thinking, "I could rip that stage right now," you know. It's just what's in you. Yeah. You know, it's just what comes with being a rapper and you know. I've probably taken that attitude everywhere I've gone and it's actually helped me to become who I am because, you know, it gave me sort of the bravery to do something like Living Single. You know, I kind of took that same attitude. And you could really see a lot of it in the early years of Living Single, like that first year was just like, Khadijah was a little hip-hop head. You know. Totally. You know, Karl Kani and Cross Colors and you know, just the dances and the whole intro, you know what I mean. It's like, it's there. It was the first words out of my mouth when I got nominated for that Oscar. "Thank god for hip-hop." You know, because if it wasn't for hip-hop music I might never have been able to become the Queen Latifah that everybody knows today. You know, I don't know if I would have had an opportunity to become an actress, or to become a Cover Girl, or Curvation spokesperson, or a rap manager. You know, and bringing Naughty By Nature and Monica and SWV and you know, help OutKast along. Everybody that we kind of helped to push through the game. So, it's like, you know, yeah, there's always an album in there. In conclusion, yes. [laughs] Excellent. I think people would be psyched to hear that. It seems like there's a lot of—I know like, MC Lyte and Kane are touring with the Roots right now, and KRS just put out a new record with Marly, and there's a lot of pioneering cats that are putting out new material that's great, you know what I mean, that's, you know, a lot of it is better than a lot of these younger cats, you know. Oh, yeah. Plus we all grew up and it's like we want to hear from the people we grew up with. You know what I mean? It's like, thank god Jay-Z made that, [Kingdom Come] I'm glad Jay-Z came back and made the album he did, because I can relate to a lot of what he's talking about on this album. No doubt, no doubt. Because I was around when he first started and I'm still around, you know what I mean, but I'm an adult and he, you know, we're near, somewhere near the same age, so it's kind of like, you know, I can relate to the things that he's talking about and I think it's something to aspire to for the young and up and coming rappers. Absolutely. But also, you know, we're not little kids anymore. I don't always want to listen to little kid music, you know, I actually enjoy a lot of it but I can't listen to it constantly, I need something that's a little more creative and a little bit more mature. And I think a lot of the people, who are 25 and up feel the same way about hip-hop, you know, we want a little substance. So by the time you hit 25 you've done a little something, hopefully. Right. {laughs) Twenty-seven for sure. You know what I mean? So you want to hear just a little more out of your music than, you know, than just the hottest dance. You want the hottest dance with the hottest lyrics, you know what I mean. I think people like T.I., they really get it off, they do it well. Oh, yeah, there's definitely some talented people out there, that's for sure. Absolutely. Ludacris you know, he's been another who just came along and just smashed the game and stayed consistent and expanded. He's to me, one of the smartest, you know, people out there. Totally. What is your take on, being that you've been involved in hip-hop and in the music industry for so long, what is your take on the past year or so, it seems like everybody, all the talk show host people and all the media and the press and everybody is jumping on hip-hop and blaming it for all these problems, when it seems like, you know, that whole argument was there twenty years ago too. What's your sort of feelings on that whole situation? Yeah, I agree. I feel like it's a little bit late, you know, I feel like we're a little bit late at policing ourselves, and I feel like the public is a little late at policing the industry. [laughs] You know, it's like it's not enough to just come down on the rappers, you need to come down on the industry. You need to recognize it for what it is. We do not own these labels, primarily. We may have a label deal through one of these major labels but we don't own the labels. We don't own the radio stations. You know, we're not the ones who make all this—we don't program all of this music. They're playing what they want to play. You know. And the record companies are putting dollars and support behind who they want to, So, I mean… But the artists get blamed. It's just recently that you know, groups like Talib Kweli and Mos Def, Common, are really getting a lot of that support, you know, but they kind of built their careers hustling. You know, there's still a bunch of groups out there like Dead Prez, who you want to see more from. I mean, you know, who really talk about some—I mean, they made a record called "Be Healthy." "Be Healthy." That was a hot joint. Talking about eating right. You know what I mean? And now everybody wants to talk about the trans fats in food and we want to ban that. Well, you know what? Yeah, well a couple of us felt the same way about that a long time ago. Yeah, yeah, no doubt. You know what I mean? Just like a bunch of us felt like, well, shoot, it's not like we want to hear the N word on every record either. We want to hear something more creative. I grew up with Eric B and Rakim. Public Enemy. MC Lyte. Heavy D & The Boyz. Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff. You know, Salt-N-Pepa, Kool G Rap and Polo. Beastie Boys. Run-D.M.C. And look at all them people I just named. They were all out at the same time. At the same time. Yep. And everybody had their own thing going. Smash records! And everybody doing their own thing, you know. So, it's like the industry needs to support creativity. You know what I mean? And like, kind of foster it and let it breathe. But if you keep just supporting the same gangsters, you know, everybody's going to try to be a gangster, because somebody can rap and they want to really do this for a career. If they feel like that's the only route, that they got to really spit thug talk in order to get that respect and get the attention of a label, then that's where they're going to go. Right. But you know, you look at 50 Cent, he sings things on a lot of his records. Well, Ja Rule been singing on his records, you know what I mean? Like, Ja, you need to make a singing joint. You know what I mean. And they got to take chances with that and not be afraid to do it, cause yeah you can spit hot rhymes but you can also hold a note. And you hooking up J.Lo and you hooking up with Ashanti. Hey. So, you know, maybe it became something later on, it became an issue. But, you know, honestly, I would have pushed the envelope a long time ago. No doubt. And you did, really, you know what I mean? Well, I did, it just took the audience a minute to catch up with it, and a lot of the producers. Because you know, it requires a movement in a way, you know what I mean. Some people start it, but other people got to really take it and push it through. You know, I've been around, I've been around a bit. I was musically inclined. And then kind of getting around, and then hearing the way the West Coast—and that's really how the West Coast really smashed the game, it's like they put music in the records. They stopped sampling, just one bar loops. They put synthesizers and keyboards and singers and choruses on the record, you know what I mean? And started making them more creative, so that after a while when everybody started doing it, you could appreciate a beat, a one bar loop. You know, one little four-bar loop with some rapping over it, because everybody got music in their stuff now. You know what I mean? But, you know, it just took somebody to just kind of get into it, change the game, make it creative. You still want to hear your rap battles a little bit, you know, but you want it to be like something really creative, not just a typical rap record. Because, I mean, there's some real garbage on the radio right now in terms of rappers. That's for sure. You may have some hot hooks, but some trash rappers on the radio right now. But there's also some dope rappers on the radio. I think Lil Wayne is one of the hottest in the game. I think T.I. is dope. I think he's pushing it forward. You know, Ludacris gives me a consistent album every time he comes out, and he just seems to be getting better. So it's like, you know, I just hope it continues. [laughs] I think people starting to have a little more fun with his game. And that's what's going to make it, you know, it's got to be cool to have fun. Yeah, you can't be ice grilling everybody all the time. All these tough guys, come on, they just make it all—I can't even listen to half the mixtapes because if I'm not drinking Hennessey and smoking a joint, then I can't relate to it. Because it just starts sounding depressing after a while. "I'll kill you." "I'ma f*** this many bitches." And I don't want to hear that. Like, that's really—maybe I'm a grown-assed woman, but that never did anything for me. It's got to have something behind it. Not when I was eighteen, and not now. So, you know. Unless you dress it up and make it sound sexy. [laughs] Put some metaphors in it, make me feel like you seducing me a little bit. But, "I just want to f*** you and put my d***…" Oh, no. I can't do that. I cannot relate to that. You know what I mean? That's just vulgar music to me that I don't really want to hear. And especially if it comes in a no-talent package. No doubt. I just want more from music, cause I love music. Okay, so the new album's coming out soon. Are you going to be touring to promote it? Yep. I go on tour on the 29th of this month, starting in Dallas. And I have like forty, forty-six shows so far. Nice, right on. That's great. I'm going to be going into December on this tour. So, that's pretty cool. Yeah, congratulations. They want to get me out there, so I'm going to take it to the people and have some fun. That's what's up. It's always good fun to be out there touring and enjoying the real energy of the people. Excellent. I got one last question for you. You know, you've been doing this a long time, you've conquered music, different styles of music, TV, movies, the stage, this and that, you're an all around multi-talented person. You know, what advice would you give to the young kids today that are coming up and look to somebody like you as a role model? I would say to, you know, just make sure your self-esteem is in the right place. Always try to surround yourself with positive people who are moving in a positive direction. And try to do things to you know, make sure that you have self-esteem. I find that people who have high self-esteem are confident people, who believe that they can accomplish their goals and their dreams. They make better decisions because they're not making them from a place of hate, you know, so they're not going to do things to damage themselves constantly, or hurt themselves or other people. And whatever your dream is, just believe that you can accomplish it if you put your mind to it, and put your whole soul to it. So, that's my life lessons. That's what I was taught and that's what I will continue to share with the people. And whatever they choose to do with it from there, you know, go for it. Excellent. Well, thanks a lot for taking the time Latifah I definitely appreciate it. No problem. It's been great talking to you and good luck with the new album. Thank you very much. All right, take care, have a good one. Alright Brolin, peace.

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