College Grad Turned Music Mogul: Yandy Smith Talks Getting Her Start In The Music Biz, Love & Hip-Hop, Jim Jones, Chrissy, Missy & More
Before Love & Hip-Hop, I knew who Yandy Smith was. If you’re familiar with Harlem’s rap group “The Diplomats,” then you should have somewhat of an idea who Smith is. She’s the woman who is responsible for some of “The Diplomats” success, especially Jim Jones. Not only is she or was she Jim’s manager, she also handles a lot of projects for “The Diplomats” as a whole. I last ran into Smith back in September, when I was at this Dipset questions and answers conversation, alongside celebrity blogger and radio jockey Miss Info and Dollah Tha Rapper, in Harlem. With the help of her mentor Mona Scott Young, this Howard University alumni has managed the careers of Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes and Jim Jones. Angela Byrd over at KYSDC.com caught up with Yandy and they talked about getting her break in the music biz, Love & Hip-Hop, Jim Jones, Chrissy, Missy and much more. Below are some excerpts:
Now you’re a HU alumni, how did going to college help you get your foot in the door?
It was really persistent for me to get into the music industry. I am a Howard University alumni but in music what I come to find ,a lot of the stuff I’ve learned in college, I haven’t had to apply it. I was a business management major, with business management I had to take finance, accountant, and business law. All those different things added a little salt to who I am but we have lawyers that cover our contract. I have accountant to handle my mone. I have a financial advisor to handle my finances.
Was it easy to break into the field?
Two months after I graduated, I moved back to New York. A friend of mine had a meeting at Violator and I went with him. I was just sitting in the receptionist area, while I was sitting there, I saw artists come in and out, everybody was laughing, talking loud, music playing. I was like “is this a job or is this a hangout.” At that time, I wanted to get into entertainment law, so I thought maybe God brought me here for a reason. I was just persistent, I got the number to the receptionist and I would call her everyday, then I found out Mona’s assistant number and I called her everyday. Every time I was in Manhattan, I would stop by the office to act like I was saying hi to the receptionist. Every time I went or every time I called I asked if they needed help. I did that for about 3 weeks and finally they gave me a job/internship.
Love & Hip-Hop is heating up. You’re one of the creators of the show along with Mona Scott Young?
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NEXT PAGE: YANDY TALKS LOVE & HIP-HOP, JIM JONES, MONEY, MISSY & BUSTA RHYMES
In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, you said you joined Love & Hip to show a different view of women in the entertainment industry. Is there a void of acknowledging female moguls? Why do you think men have been so dominant?
I think it’s just a model of the world not only in hip-hop but in the world as it stands. Women have taken the backseat for so long. Now you’ll see a shift in the music business, you see a lot of women holding their Senior V.P. position, president positions, just like in the corporate world you see a shift happening as well. I think within time like with anything else. It’s just like when it was a switch in slavery days and you started to see black people come into office. Everything takes time. It takes time for people to realize that. Roles like I’m playing on the show and other women that play in real life. I think these are the types of things that society, young women even men need to see cause it shows that we are here , we’re coming through and you better make room or we will push our way through.
You also said you joined for branding reasons. There are a lot of drama already on the show. How do you protect your brand on reality TV?
You can only control what you do. I can’t control what anybody else does and what anybody else says but as you see on the show I maintain a level of professionalism, you know to the best of my ability. I am human, so it might be a time were your like wait a minute you slipped up there because I am human, but for the most part I felt like it let me promote my business, it let me show that I’m a good manager and I have new jewelry line called “Everything Girls Love” so they let me wear my jewelry all day, every day and let me look good doing it. So people are like “Who is she? She dress nice and she talk well.” I felt like it was important to be a trendsetter and standout.
In the last episode, You made it clear it was about the money. Is it really about the money?
Well, you know that’s a lot of editing as well. Absolutely not because I wouldn’t be with Jim if it was only about the money. You know Jim is an artist where you have so much outside non-income generating stuff that you have to do. There is so much damage control that goes in to managing an artist like Jim. Like handling his son’s birthday, talking to his mom, talking to Chrissy all the time, bailing someone out of jail whether it’s him or his entourage. Those things you don’t get paid for. I did it and I didn’t complain at all. What you don’t see in that scene, I’m not sure if they kept it or not, but I was like “Chrissy, come on, you know it ain’t about the money when it comes to Jim.” Now, you might be able to say that about a client I don’t necessary care about but with Jim you can’t say that. But at the end of the day if it is about the money what’s the problem. I don’t go to work to fraternize, I don’t go to work to party , I don’t go to work to have friends, I go to work cause that’s my job and I have a mortgage to pay. It’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just I made it personal with Jim, Chrissy and everybody because they became friends. But that’s not how it has to be.
Whats the relationship with Chrissy now?
You have to watch the show to see how it plays out.
I know the show keeps you busy , What are you working on or with?
I’m working very closely with Missy and Busta. I do a lot of stuff with the Diplomats as a whole. You know Missy is dropping an album, Busta just signed to Young Money, so it’s a lot going on, plus my jewelry line, which is my new endeavor.
Speaking of Busta and Missy, they are legends in the music game. What has it been like working them?
With Missy and Busta they have been there since the beginning, since I was an intern at Violator. They’re really like my big brother and sister. I was just on the phone with Busta a couple of days ago and I was at Missy’s house last night preparing for a big meeting we have tomorrow. With them as much as I work with them, I am also fans of their creativity. I am fans of who they are as people. I am fans of their business. The way they handle themselves is the reason they’ve lasted so long. They are really about business. They changed the game in so many way as far as they music and identity. They never settled for the status quo. They always worked outside the box and that’s the kind of stuff that drives me to do what I do.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
You know everyone asks me that question and two years ago I never would have thought I would be in front of the camera. Ten years ago when I was prepping for law, I would have never thought I would be in music. So I can’t say were I’ll see myself in 5 years because I really believe sky’s the limit and I’ll be putting myself in limitations if I speak it. I’m a firm believer of speaking things into existence. I have no idea where this new life , will take me. I’m open as long as it doesn’t hurt my integrity or hurt my brand. I’m open.
Read the entire interview over at KYSDC.com.