All this talk about Cardi B (deservingly so), we almost forget about the OG Nya Lee who you can say, without a doubt paved the way for rappers like a Cardi to be bringing in these numbers we see the “Bodak Yellow” rapper toting proudly, today.
But giving respect where it’s due, former stripper, former Love & Hip Hop: New York castmate, Bronx born and bred, the female with the hard flow, pretty girl with the big personality; rapper Nya Lee talks to us about working with another OG, Trina on her newly released single “THICK“, her “BigMommaThang” video that is amping up in views since being release a few weeks ago, becoming a mother, the time she first picked up the mic, and having nothing but love for her fellow female cohorts in Hip Hop.
Donning a new look since giving birth of her daughter, taking about 2 years off for herself and her family, Nya Lee is moving forward, not focused on what else is going on, but her longtime passion and keeping her blinders on at all times, headed for the win. Advice bestowed to her by Trina herself.
On what it was like getting it in with the ‘baddest b-tch’, “It was great! She’s a Sagittarius, just like me; so we’re both very chill. It was so easy to work with her. I’ve been around a lot of other female rappers, a lot of females as a whole; and with her, it seemed very genuine. It didn’t seem like she was just coming around to peek around. It was very easy to work with her; speaking a little bit, she just told me,
“Look, don’t worry about nothing else going on. Don’t worry about numbers. You focus on you and your passion for music, and just keep that tunnel vision and you will win babygirl.”
And that’s what it is.
Growing up in a working-class family, Nya reminisced on the time where she would sneak down to her grandmothers basement to watch her uncles rap, and then one day catching a glimpse of her favorite aunt Munchkin get behind the mic, and just like that, her desired destiny was set.
“I was maybe about 6 or 7, I had snuck downstairs to the basement to be nosy, and she was in the booth; and so my aunt is the first female rapper that I ever like heard and paid attention to. And then obviously after that, you know we got Lil Kim, and everybody else that comes after that as far as my age bracket goes. But the first person to inspire me, first and foremost, was definitely my aunt.”
Dropping out of high school her senior year to dance, Nya had to figure the funds to help pay for studio time and her videos as a young, aspiring artist. As innocent as writing poems when she was 10, it wasn’t until she was 15 that she touched the booth. “My dad had a studio in Columbus, Ohio. My mom sent me there because I was being bad in New York, so she sent me there with my dad. And once getting into the booth at 15, I just never left.”
After becoming a mother over a year and a half ago to her baby girl, her perspective, her drive is that much more. Toning down many things, from the way that she speaks to the way that the public views her, is the new approach. “Like, I’m fine with explaining the things that I did before her, but the things that I do now that I have her here,
I have to respect her just like I would want her to respect me when she gets older and decides to do whatever she does.
I want to respect her and I want her to be proud of who her mother is.”
Working strenuously since giving birth, still dropping projects here and there, running her record label, keeping home, the daily routine never stops when it comes to keeping it all together.
“Everyday I wake up and go attack it like a 9-5, and then some. I put in overtime. So, literally everyday, I’m working to figure it out, make it better. People always ask me, and I say, “I just get up, I pray, and I just try.” And it works out, thank God.”
Starting her record label back in 2010 because people were still not paying enough attention to the music, as much as the ass and titties, it was only so much asking of folks to put her on that she could do. And as an OG, there comes a time when you must put yourself in position.
“So I was like, “F— it!” I’m just going to figure this sh– out and do it in my own way.”
The name of your label is Our Cutt ENT, what does ‘Our Cutt’ stand for?
“Out Cutt” is basically who I am as a person, not that I want to get on and everybody else lose, not that I want to work and I only get paid; I just want my cut. So whatever I work for, I just want my cut; I’m deserving of that. So that’s what ‘Our Cutt’ stands for.
And the logo, the cut behind it was just a reiteration for the girls who cut me, letting them know that, “Y’all ain’t stop sh–.” So, I included my scar.
Coming off of your collab with Trina, is more ‘women empowerment’ something that you would want to see a little bit more of, in terms of just like, women coming together in Hip Hop, instead of trying to tear eachother down?
Yeah! I feel like with women in Hip Hop, what happens is, when we’re on the come-up, everybody is like, “Women empowerment! Women empowerment!” And then we get in the position of power, and you forget all the other little girls, or your peers, and you forget to give them a platform.
Like, to me, there are dudes who come out all the time that rap/sound like somebody else and that person goes and grabs them, puts them on platforms. And what happens with the women in Hip Hop, they allow their team to tell them, “Oh, if you bring her in, she is going to take your light. They allow the blogs and media to put them against eachother.
And, in real life, if you have a conversation with this other lady, and y’all do the same thing; y’all should be able to figure out a way where y’all both an eat. So that’s how I feel. I hope that I definitely start that conversation on Women & Hip Hop uniting.
There’s 50 million male rappers, why can’t there be more than one girl?
We kind of seen the other side with Azalea Banks coming for Cardi B; trying to discredit her and whatnot. And then listening to a Joe Buddens podcast a little while ago, he reminded us that, “The things that Cardi B is doing, Nya Lee has been doing.” She really can spit, she really has music, she really has bars.
Speaking of Cardi, we feel like you kind of laid the blueprint out for her, so to speak. Because, you went from being a dancer, took that, went on Love & Hip Hop to bring more light to your music, then left LHHNY and really got serious, to now seeing your music progress. So, you kind of laid that blueprint out.
-Yeah, I definitely agree. I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. But what I think what a lot of people want is for me to be mad at her for her success, or hate on her. And just like everybody else watched her growth, I watched her growth.
So for me to come out and feel a way, like I was pregnant. My daughter is only a year and a half right now, so the time span that she (Cardi) was rocking and rolling, I was chilling being a mom; doing what I needed to do for my own personal. Was I suppose to be like, “Cardi B, don’t, wait! Let me go first.”?
Every interview, they ask me how I feel, and I have to say:
“Of course, I want my own, my turn, my cut, but I’m not going to hate on her, or throw shade. Because she only did what she was supposed to do, and that is to progress and win.”
So you dropped an EP recently, “The Snapback” back in February, and we hear you have another one coming? Is that right?
– Yes, Fur Season (the album), it’s going to be my debut album. The other one was just an EP with like 5 songs, just to put something out, because I had been gone off the radar for so long and I wanted to get them songs out. I had a song on there with Jim Jones that a lot of people liked, and another song on there called “Haters” that a lot of women especially hit me up to say what it got them through; one person said the song got them through cancer, another she said she bought her first house listening to that song everyday.
And, you came off of having a baby a year and a half ago, and went back into music and didn’t take a break. But what people usually do after something like that is, they kind of chill and expect things to go right right back. Can you speak on that approach?
-No you can’t think like that. Because, look at what happened from me taking a break for life, for instance, Cardi B went and did a number. So I believe in, not dropping the ball when it’s still there, rather than letting it go off the court and then you have to go fetch the ball.
So to me, I don’t look at Cardi B’s success as my failure, because that is what some people do. I look at it as, now there can be others, she is showing you that the sh– can actually work; she is showing you that strippers can actually do numbers. Now this is a discussion and people are going to bring my name up when it comes to her, and I’m cool with that because to me, it just opens the door up for other females like myself to get in there.
In terms of more new music coming, R&B even, what is “Trap Love”?
–So you know I got these vocals, I can sing. I kind of want to do a female/ Bryson Tiller run – you know what I’m saying. In February, that’s when I’m going to release those vocals.
My team loves the rap, but I love the new R&B sh– I’ve been putting out. I have two records on the “Snapback”, that’s kind of sneak though, snuck it in there.
Anything else that you’re working on?
-Yeah, there’s also a compilation album for my team, me, Tik Millie from Jersey, JWhoodie who is also from Jersey, and my babyfather, Our Cutt ENT, we are putting out a compilation album called “The Darkest Hour”. The darkest hour being right before the sun shines, and that’s coming out in the end of October, first week of November.
Currently looking to add a dope, multifaceted female to the team, Nya Lee is on the hunt for fiery act to include on her platform; for as she said, there are a million male rappers, why can’t there be more women doing the same thing.
Between Fur Season and The Darkest Hour dropping before the end of 2017, then Trap Love early 2018, Nya Lee is not slowing down, coming for all, and she is demanding her cut.
Interview conducted by OliJawn