originally coming out as part of the blackwatch movement (x-clan, professor x, queen mother rage, etc.) of the early 90s, lin que dropped the album rebel soul under the name "isis." a couple of years later she resurfaced under her real name of lin que, forming a production company with mc lyte, and dropped two singles in anticipation of a never-released album for columbia records. another couple of years later lin again resurfaced as a member of the put-together wu-tang-affiliated female "supergroup" deadly venomz, but left the group shortly after they began (the other four members continuing on without her). she's now back again, and the new songs i've heard sound pretty freakin' awesome (check out her myspace page for music and info). i did an interview with her a while back, which has taken me forever to put up here. finally, here it is. if you haven't her this woman rip, you're in for a surprise, she's a killer...
as someone who's followed your music for a long time, i'd like to ask you about some of the different "stages" or "phases" of your musical career so far. if you can tell me about the different periods in your career. first, where you are from, and how you got into becoming an MC, and who influenced you in your early days?
I’m from Queens, New York. I fell in love with Hip Hop the first time I heard it. I was always memorizing other emcee’s rhymes. I started in this business pop-locking, which is a form of break dancing. From there, I was dancing in many Hip Hop videos and movies. This director, Dwayne Hayward, asked me if I wanted to make a record and that’s when everything jumped off. He is the one that introduced me to Professor X of X Clan. My influences back then were Run DMC, Eric B and Rakim, LLCoolJ, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, EPMD, Public Enemy, MC Lyte, Dana Dane, Slick Rick, Dougie Fresh, etc.
as part of the blackwatch movement, you were down with x-clan, and were known as isis. how did you become a part of this movement / group, and what it was like being a part of that collective during that time period of rap?
I was introduced to him through a mutual friend, Dwayne Hayward. Lumumba told me what they were about and asked if I could write about that. I said, “yes” and that opened up the flood gates to my new found consciousness. It was great. I feel very lucky that I was catapulted into Hip Hop in that way because with it I felt a sense of purpose and responsibility. Hip Hop was still very potent and undiluted at that time. It was a privilege to be a part of that time in history.
after that, you went by the name "lin que," when you dropped a couple of 12"s. i remember "rip it up" and "let it fall", both on differnet labels. what was going on then? were these just single deals or album deals that never materialized?
I’ve been privileged to have three album deals in my life as of yet. I’m working on the next one now. I didn’t realize how lucky I was when I was on Island Records, my first record deal. They believed in me. The other two record deals, in my opinion, turned into single releases because they didn’t understand or believe in me.
if i remember correctly, you went on to form a production company with mc lyte and someone else. i'm wondering what was going on at this stage in your career.
Yes, we opened a company called “Duke Da Moon.” It was MC Lyte, Pam Wilder, and myself. We handled Management and Music Production. I was the first artist to be represented by “Duke Da Moon.” That’s when “Rip It Up” and “This Is It” were released. We had other artist such as Backspin, Born In Hell, and Bamboo. After that, MC Lyte and I opened up “Ace Entertainment” and that’s when “Let It Fall” was released.
and then, the deadly venoms. how did this come about? was it a "put-together" group?
One day before the DV’s were about to shoot their first video “Bomb Threat”, I was called and asked to join the group. I liked the concept and knew Champ MC from being on the same record label with her before. It was all good. I toured with them for a minute and unfortunately left because of business reasons.
this brings me to the present day. you're back, new tracks, i'd like to know what's been going on with you the last few years. have you been working on music on the low, or did you need to take a break and reassess things from a distance?
I opened up a business with my homie, Barb Sherin, called Queb, Inc. We handle everything from graphic design, website design, and multimedia. You can check out what we’re about at www.quebinc.com. I needed a break and was very discouraged by the Industry. It really affected me. I would get mixed signals. The record company would be telling me, “I don’t hear a single” and the streets would be telling me “Who do I have to hurt… when are you coming out with some new shit.” It was hard. I stopped listening to the radio and watching videos. It hurt too much. After Queb has been in effect for a while, I realized that having my own business could allow me to get back into the Music without stressing about money.
after all of your experiences with differnet crews, etc., what have you learned about yourself that you are now applying to your new solo material. what strengths have you gained? what weaknesses have you overcome?
Just being in the industry alone has given me a huge advantage. I realize what the industry is about and it is a business. I am an artist and I’m into the art form of Hip Hop. I do want to sell records and have bills to pay, but I do this for the Love of Hip Hop and the Love of Music. I could have been a millionaire long ago if I just wanted to sell records… especially being a female. I could have put on poom poom shorts and hooker heels. I learned the importance of marketing and promoting myself. Which, to me, is the meat of this business. Of course, quality music is a given, but you can be the dopest emcee out here and if you don’t market and promote yourself, who will know!!!
what messages and/or sounds are you trying to push forward with your new music?
I’m just about Lyricism. That’s what I love about Hip Hop. I’d like to think that I am an innovator taking Hip Hop to the next level.
brother j has a new "x-clan" project out, do you still keep in touch?
I just saw him recently. He was on tour with Jurassic 5 and they came to New York to do a show at Irving Plaza. It was great. I got on stage and spit for a minute with him like old times.
as somebody who's been doing this for a long time, and is perhaps a little bit older than some of the younger cats coming up today... do you feel that being a "veteran" presents a challenge to you to stay relevant, or do you feel you now have more to offer due to the wisdom of experience (both in music and life).
Being a veteran is a privilege. I don’t expect anyone to tell me when and how to express myself so I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone else. I just remain ‘true’ to myself and allow others to do the same.
who are you working with now? how did those collaborations come about?
I’m working with Ayatollah, Crazy Al Cayne, Monifah, just to name a few. I was recently introduced to Ayatollah through a mutual friend, Cynical. She co-directed my last video, “Breathe, Spit, Don’t Stop”, with me. Ayatollah and I just hit it off. I respect his sound and he respects mine. Crazy Al and I have known each other for quite some time. We have worked before on other projects. Monifah and I have been friends for a while as well. She kills it on two of my new tracks on my album.
are there plans to drop an album soon? are you doing it independent? where can people find out about you online?
I’m working on my album now. I have over twenty songs already, but keep creating. I’m shooting for a Jan 2007 release. Fingers crossed. You can check out some of my tracks on myspace at www.myspace.com/linquemusic. Not sure as of yet whether it’s going to be independent or not. Let’s just say I’m not waiting or relying on a major.
[note: as i said, we did this interview a while back. the album is out now, go to lin-que.com for info.]
any final comments you'd like to say? or shout-outs you'd like to give to people?
I want to thank all the people who have shown me Love and respect what I do. They keep me moving in the right direction. I couldn’t do this without them. Much Love goes out to my son, Myles, and my family and friends for the support and inspiration all these years. Shot out to The Ayoung Family, Cynical, Barb Sherin, Yve Cotto, Ralph McDaniels, Ken Murphy, Lord Bless, Prince Paul & Newkirk., the rest of “The Ill Out Show” family, There are so many others… Thank you Ryan. Appreciate the chance to “Spread My Word.” Nuff Respect!!!