Jamaican-born, Bronx-bred emcee Gangalee was doing her thing back in the day when women were some of the pioneers of the rap game. Today, she’s still writing and now, producing her own style of intellectual, empowering hip hop, and she’s hard at work bringing the superstar female emcee back up from the underground.
GH: For those who are just meeting you, when did you first get into emceeing?
Gangalee: “I began emceeing in the Bronx on 182nd and Tiebout Ave. Doo Wop gave me my first shot by allowing me to be an initial member of The Bounce Squad. I was down with them from 1991-1993. It was an honor to be down and it was a great learning experience. Once DJ Doo Wop gave me a chance to rock on stage live I never looked back. I knew what I was destined to do: emcee.”
GH: Your Facebook page says that you’re “the untold story in hip hop.” Can you give us a taste of that story?
Gangalee: “I am like an urban legend – many have heard of me but don’t believe I exist. I’ve been in this game for many years now and because I choose not to compromise myself, be it lyrically or physically (with plastic surgery, etc.) they fight against me telling my story. I grew up on hip hop where we had Ladies Wednesday on Rap City and for the entire hour it was all videos by female emcees. I was in an all-female hip hop group called The Gypcees. We were destined to do great things. We opened up for The Roots, EPMD, KRS-One, Wyclef, Jazzyfatnastees, and even had a deal from Elektra on the table at one point. But due to the powers that be, nothing manifested from that but learning experiences.”
GH: What do you mean when you say that “they fight against you telling your story?”
Gangalee: “I feel that the average woman in hip hop is not being represented. The woman that takes care of her family, her business, and does it all without compromise or regret, she does not have a voice right now. So I am electing myself to be that voice and to speak on behalf of these women that love hip hop but are slowly falling out of love with because of the lackluster direction the music is taking in regards to women. I was a featured artist on PoweRgirls for MTV. They licensed my song “The Jam,” and that was a turning point in my career. It let me know I cannot stop this.”
GH: Hooking up with DJ Erika B – did the two of you just click or was it an important decision for you to work with a female DJ?
Gangalee: “God sent DJ Erika B to me. I can honestly say that I never put an ad out or even put the “word” out that I was looking for a DJ. I always envisioned a female DJ on my set, I thought it would be a dope concept, but I never pursued the idea fully and completely. Then one day, through mutual friends, DJ Erika B was told about me and introduced to my music and she aggressively let me know she was the woman for the job. I thank God for her because on the indie label that we run (DOE Inc), we both wear many hats and thanks to Erika B we are moving in a positive direction.”
GH: Tell me about DOE Inc – why decide to create an independent label?
Gangalee: “I decided to create the indie label DOE Inc after The Gypcees got a raw deal from the label that we were signed to. We had no rights to any of our music. We could not even get promo copies to give to prominent DJs to spin. Major labels wanted to sign us and this label just gave us the shitty end of the stick. It made me say, “you know what? I want to be in charge. I want to make music that I want to play.” I started out by buying a recording studio and recording myself and other underground artists. Then, after I realized I was making great music, I decided to create a label and make it official and put my music out myself.”
GH: The Ladies Run This show on UStream – how did you decide to start making the show, and has it helped you promote your music?
Gangalee: “DJ Erika B and I were looking for an outlet to just perform, ventilate, voice our opinions, and plug my music. We’d seen cats stream in the past and looked at it as an outlet for us also. We wanted to once again represent the female persuasion in hiphop and do so to a backdrop of music. In the end it has definitely helped promote my music as well as music for other emcees from all over who otherwise might not get spins. (Every Saturday on Ustream.tv you can catch us live from DOE Inc.’s The Mint Studios).”
GH: What does the future hold for Gangalee and Erika B?
Gangalee: “The future holds a tour overseas later on this year and a new EP, The Black Pinup. We are on the mixtape series Females of the Rap Game. I have songs on Volumes 1 and 4 and DJ Erika B is DJing Volumes 4 and 7, and I am alongside her hosting the same volumes. Overall, I see pure blessings and the world receiving us with open arms and that “about time” look on its face because we are a long time coming. You will see recognition globally for what we are doing today.”