Hey, You’re Cool! Angela Yee
Find out how Angela Yee went from Brooklyn to The Breakfast Club.
Photos and words by Seher Sikandar
Standing at 5’ 3”, the disarmingly charming Angela Yee comes in an unassuming package. Be careful not to misjudge her girly love for shoes and a pretty face for any other chick, though — you’ll be swiftly put in check by the quick-witted Flatbush, Brooklyn native.
Upon graduating Wesleyan University, the once-aspiring writer opted for a change of plans — nothing major, really — just a job as assistant to the CEO at Wu-Tang Management, where she interfaced with only about every label on the planet (and built up quite the Rolodex). Thanks to support from Shady Records co-founder Paul Rosenberg, Angela then landed a morning prime time spot on The Cipha Sounds Effect at Shade 45. With an unshakable work ethic, she seized every opportunity to “get in where she fit in.” With what became an irrefutable track record, Angela got her own show on Sirius — the infamous Lip Service. With women outnumbering men in the room, the male-centric industries of radio and hip hop got to taste a new flavor. And they liked it — a lot. Alongside day jobs, the marvel also managed GZA and Jay Electronica, eventually facilitating the pivotal meeting of Jay Elec and Jay Z. Now, Angela is dusting her shoulders off as co-host of The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 and a national TV personality from VH1’s The Gossip Game, to name a couple of things. And you’re damn straight: can’t stop, won’t stop.
Mass Appeal: What was day-to-day life at the Wu-Tang office like?
Angela Yee: It was a really fun job. The guys used to come in there all the time — it was their hang-out spot. I remember when ODB used to come in there, he would just tear everything apart. One day he came in there and he just decided — they had a lot of posters and plaques up on the wall — he just took one of the plaques and walked out, and they were so mad at him. It was huge.
They used to smoke so much weed. We were on, I think, the 11th floor – and you could smell the weed from the lobby downstairs. One time I put up a sign in the office that said, “No Smoking Weed During Office Hours.” [Laughs] Raekwon came in and was like, “Who put this sign up?!” I said, “I don’t know!”
I feel like you’re a total closet nerd; tell me a nerdy secret about yourself.
I am great at math. When I was younger, I would always square numbers in my head just to see if I could do it. I don’t know why. Like, 19 squared is 361. 20 is 400. 18 is 324. Yeah, I don’t know why. 17 squared is 289.
Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Like, 21 is 441. When I used to work at Wu-Tang, my boss Divine used to call me The Human Calculator.
Being this petite, cute woman, did you ever feel like you had to go out of your way to establish your credibility when managing GZA and Jay?
Certain times it was difficult and certain times not. I think after a while a lot of people knew who I was. And I think the way that I carry myself and the way that I dress show that I am a professional person – and just the way that I act.
Also, if I’m out with GZA and his crew or I’m out with Jay Electronica and his people, the amount of respect that they show me when we go out kinda lets people know like, “Ok. We gotta treat her like that ‘cause we see how much they respect her.”
How did the idea for Lip Service come about?
People liked that segment [“Slutted Out” on The Cipha Sounds Effect] so much that they were just like, “Yo, you should just do a weekly show!” That’s how Lip Service happened. It was my friend Lea Rose and me. Lea was a music editor at XXL, so it gave us credibility; like, we’re real women that know about music, but we also have our own personal, intimate lives that we’re not scared to share.
We would have guys come on and there would be all these beautiful women and they would not know what to do. It was kind of a role reversal because normally you do this stuff and it’s so male-dominated. This time, a guy walks in and he’s the only guy in a room full of women. People used to love the show.
Having received threats based on what you’ve said on air, do you ever get concerned and feel the need to tread lightly on some topics?
I don’t worry about threats. No matter what happens, people are going to feel a certain kind of way when you have to address issues that they are not happy about. I don’t think that I censor what I have to say.
I just don’t want to make an accusation against somebody like, “Such-and-such, you know, I heard they had an illegitimate child” and that might not be true. I don’t put things out there that are not verified.
I don’t want to destroy anybody’s life. That’s all.
Do you ever feel guilty or conflicted about some of the questions that you ask?
I think, as an interviewer, you should be able to ask whatever questions that you want to ask. It’s up to the person being interviewed – their job is to figure out a) how to answer or b) how to not answer. You know, I’m doing my job and that person is doing their job. I never feel bad about a question. And sometimes, if it’s something that is particularly touchy, I would let you know ahead of time. I don’t want anyone to feel like I am bombarding them.
How was it managing Jay Electronica?
That guy is a handful.
Yeah, I bet. What tended to make him a handful?
Jay has his own ideas of what it is that he wants to do and some of it doesn’t make sense to me [Laughs].
One time, he did a show and he gave away all his money on stage. He gave away his sneakers, his chain, his clothes and everything and we had to walk down the street barefoot. He was in basketball shorts and a t-shirt and he was like, “I wanna go to Greenhouse.” Then a girl comes up to us on the street and she’s like, “I just want to thank you because I didn’t know how I was going to pay my electricity bill” [Laughs].
Word on the streets is you’re a music nerd.
When I was growing up, my parents had a lot of vinyl -— and I still have a lot of vinyl at home. I used to sit in the basement and listen to all their old music and records. I listen to the Savannah Band and, oh my God, I used to love Sheila E.!
I used to listen to Run DMC’s album. I would rewind it over and over again and write down all the lyrics.
What’s next for you? What comes after working in gossip, so to speak?
Well, I want to do my own thing! I love being part of this show and I feel like branding myself outside of it is important as well. I’m trying to do a talk show now. That’s going to be fun — to really show my personality and not be so censored. Hopefully that’s going to happen really soon.
In a big picture sense, where would you like to ultimately take your career?
I would love to be writing books and scripts, ultimately. I’d love to keep doing radio and be able to do that as well. That would be ideal for me.
What kind of books and scripts?
Fictional books and scripts based on those fictional books. Watch, my next book is going to be about somebody on a reality show, all the craziness that goes with that — now that I know so much about it.
This story appears in Mass Appeal Issue 53. Read more stories from the issue here.