rawlt

Raw’LT: The UnderGround Queen

With the wide variety of emcees that have emerged from the Houston, TX

Hip-Hop music scene, few have been female and even fewer have been endorsed by

the late Pimp C of UGK. Born Tiffany

McNeil, Raw’LT prides herself on a strong work ethic bred out of her

independent childhood and relationships with a variety of artists built on

respect.

 

With a broad list of

collaborations to boost, including, Chamillionaire, Juvenile, Bun B ["Getcha Mind Right"], Lil’ Boosie ["It Goes Both Ways"], Slim Thug ["I'm So Bossy"],

and Paul Wall, Raw’LT has worked with some Hip-Hop’s Southern elite.  Performing as the opening act for such artists

as, Nelly, Slim Thug, Shawnna, Lil’ Kim, and Diddy, it’s hard to believe this

mother of one has yet to sign her first major recording contact.

 

Crediting Pimp C as

a mentor, she continues his vision of the female version of UGK, with UGQ

[UnderGround Queen] along with her friend and fellow MC, Houston native TroubleSum.   Currently

completing her debut album Category 6 with

producer Terry Allen, Raw’LT answers why heavy is the head that wears the

crown.

 

AllHipHop.com: Tell me about some of your influences.

 

Raw’LT: My influences really are the streets and the

struggle. I don’t really look up to nobody, per say.  Of course, I love Salt N’ Pepa, though, me

and my sister, back in the day, used to always do the routines and had the

dances but, back then it was never about rapping, it was all about dancing. I

came up by myself, so it was just me. Rapping just gave me something to do and

it kept me busy. Rapping kept my mind free of everything that was going on

around me coming up.

 

AllHipHop.com: I noticed you say that you’ve been working

since you were able to get an I.D. How has that work ethic played a role into

your hustle as an emcee?

 

Raw’LT: My struggle coming up has made me more independent

now. It made it easier for me to step outside by myself and not need anyone. I

started off early – I learned to go places by myself without anyone to represent

me. So, I’m able to do one-on-one with somebody, ‘You have to talk to my

manager’ or ‘You have to talk to my representative.’ I can represent myself in

certain situations. You know what I’m saying?

 

AllHipHop.com: Is that harder to do as a female in the music

game? What are some of the struggles you face in this industry that a male

artist doesn’t?

 

Raw’LT: Well, first, of course it’s like everyone you come

in contact with is male. So, the first thing on their minds is not business –

they want to get to know you  personally. When they ask you your name

and you say your rap name. They say ‘Oh, that’s not what your mama named you’.

They want to know your real name, but we’re working and we’re not on a personal

level. But as long as you let them know, in a nice way, what it is and you

stick to your grind and you show them that your about your business, then they

can’t do nothing but respect that and move on. I learned that early. If I felt

like [a guy] was trying to come at me a certain way and I couldn’t handle it..

I would just leave it alone and go to another situation. I’m not going to

compromise myself, because you’re a producer and you know I wanna rap.

 

Now that I’ve grown in the industry in Houston, and have worked with so many people…

I’m glad I never took that road because those are the same people I come across

today and there’s a respect there. It took awhile to get, but I got it.

 

AllHipHop.com: You’ve collaborated with a lot of major

artists including – As an unsigned artists female emcee that’s hard to do, but

 

Raw’LT: I’m signed with BBH Entertainment. The [CEO Kevin Starks aka Big Bank Hank] is

very known in the club scene in Houston.

While I was out grinding with the music, I ended up meeting him out and about.

With his connects and my contacts, once we put em together it made it real easy

for us.Working with Bun B was great, we got a song called “Get Your Mind Right”

and we had DJs playing that in the clubs for awhile. It’s a real hot song.  The track with 

Juvenile is a banger too

and it was a pleasure working with him in the studio. Everybody I’ve worked

with has just been a pleasure to work with. It was never like a major hunt for

artists, because like I said, I gained those connects coming up. When it was

time for me to do the album, it wasn’t nothing for me to reach out.

 

AllHipHop.com: If you could describe or categorize your

music, how would you do so?

 

Raw’LT: I would say it’s versatile. I’m not hardcore, but

I’m not commercial or pop. Versatile because I can take any beat and do

whatever with it.

 

AllHipHop.com: What’s the Hip-Hop Sorority?

 

Raw’LT: The In Crowd and it’s called the Hip-Hop Sorority.

It consists of female emcees, club owners, promoters, just women in the

industry.  We all came together and did a

mixtape together. When we came together, there was about 20 of us that

originally came together, but there has actually been about ten of us that have

stuck together and came together in a fellowship – We’ve kept our kids together

and it’s grown. When we come together, we have a gathering, cook at each other

house, bring the kids together, we just have fun. Right now it’s only in Houston, but once it

grows there’s no limit to where it can go.

 

AllHipHop.com: Tell us how you knew Pimp C and how his death

impacted you…

 

Raw’LT: Pimp C wanted to reach out to me to sign me as an

artist for any future projects that he had. So, through different people he

tried to reach out to me. I was in Atlanta

for the BET Hip-Hop Awards and I got a phone call from an ex-label mate, he

called me over passed the phone and it was Pimp. Of course, I was excited, but

didn’t want to show it, because you just can’t play it like that. So, [Pimp]

let me know that he was interested in working with me. After that we had a

couple different conversations about doing a project together and he just gave

me advice. He was so genuine and the conversations never went off track, they

were always about music. We spoke actually the Thursday before he passed away,

because that Wednesday I had opened up for Lil Kim. And you know I was so

excited about that. The following day [on that Thursday], I had a meeting with

my label, while I was in the meeting my phone rang and it was Pimp. He said he

was in LA and he was like, ‘Yo, know you know when we get back, we gonna finish

writing these songs and this is what we gonna do. He was just telling me how he

wanted a group and was like, ‘We gonna do this UnderGround Queen [UGQ]  project and I need a Bun B.’ He said, ‘I know

you can be me. I ain’t tripping. I know you can be me. But I need a Bun B’. I

said, ‘That’s no problem, I got my girl Trouble’, who I work with.  So, we were gonna try it out. UGQ, which was

me and Trouble. We were gonna have a meeting that Tuesday and that was the Tuesday

he passed away.

 

The loss was grand. Everybody is effect by it. But I’m so

comfortable, because the last conversation we had, he was so upbeat and so

cheerful. He was in La, working with Too Short who was his mentor. He was

happy. He was straight. Like I say, job well done. I was so blessed for him to

come into my life for a short time, because the things he taught me has

meaning. Being able to push on now. I just thank god for that. The funeral was

beautiful. The sermon the preacher preached on was “It’s Hard Out Here For A

Pimp.” It was just so at ease and peaceful. It was off the chain. The whole

atmosphere, everybody was quiet. Nobody was loud and trying to show off. It was

just real nice. After the funeral, we went to the site, his final resting

place. I got to speak to his wife and comfort her. It was nice. There’s a lot

of females in Houston

that they sleeping on. Everybody checking for the men, but now that the males

have played their part. In Houston

the male scene has died down so everybody wanna see what’s next, and we

[females] is like, ‘We right here. We doing it. We didn’t just start, I got

years under my belt. So, for Pimp C to reach out, out of everybody. He reached

out to me. So, with the UGQ Movement sky is the limit. We gonna make sure that

vision is still alive.

 

AllHipHop.com: At one point Houston had a lot of focus on

its local artists. What’s the Hip-Hop scene in Houston like right now?

 

Raw’LT: The scene right now is the females. We doing a

take-over. A protective take-over.  Like

I love Chamillionaire. He did an extended version to “Texas Takeover – We Wont

Let You Down.” Me and TroubleSum are the only two females on that record,

holding it down. Love Mike Jones and all of em, everybody doing their thing but,

at the same time the ladies of Houston

taking over. I just had a show with the Ladies of Houston and there was so many

females – different artists and we all came out and did a wonderful show. There

was just so much energy. The Houston

scene right now is all about the women. I’m not even focusing on anybody else.

 

AllHipHop.com: Is it hard juggling being a mother and

grinding as an artist?

 

Raw’LT: It’s extra hard. People don’t understand, but its

really not for them to understand. I just gotta learn to deal with it. Its hard

when my child wanna go  do something, but

I got a session or I have to do a show. Something comes up with your child and

you in New York or in Atlanta, traveling cause you trying to make

it better for your kid, it’s hard. I promise you it’s hard. I go through it, I

cry sometimes because my Momma wasn’t there for me. My Daddy raised me and my

sisters. So, I don’t want my son to feel nothing that I’ve felt. When I am in

town or do have downtime, even if I’m tired and wanna pass out. I still have to

find some kind of energy to spend with my child. Like, I said, I don’t want him

to feel the same pain that I felt. [My mom] is in my life now. But coming up, I

didn’t understand all that and I don’t want my son to have to. But he’s very

proud of me.

 

AllHipHop.com: You talked about how your mother’s absence..

How did her drug abuse affected you?

 

Raw’LT: When we were younger, we stayed with my grandmother.

When [my mother] started using drugs, the times she was away was more

extensive. So, she’d be gone. Eventually we started living with my dad. We made

it, but it was so hard. You’d look at other families and you go outside with

your playmates and their moms are calling them inside. My moms wasn’t there, so

we had to settle for the girlfriends of my dads. And once he started to get

into the street-life the girlfriends came too often. You know? So now you gonna

get different people all over again. It was hell, but I got through.  I mean, it wasn’t traumatic. I never got

abused or anything like that. But in the absence of my Mom…. I basically had to

teach myself, because my dad had to work and it was just me and my sister. And

[my sister] became a run-away. So, she left. I would say neglect has been the

biggest thing in my life. But I’m good, because God never neglected me and he’s

the only one that matters. I’m just now getting that understanding. But I’m

good and about to take-over, Baby.

Raw’LT  MySpace page is: www.myspace.com/rawlt

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