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, RawLT prides herself on a strong work ethic bred out of her
independent childhood and relationships with a variety of artists built on
With a broad list of
and Paul Wall, RawLT has worked with some Hip-Hops Southern elite. Performing as the opening act for such artists
as, Nelly, Slim Thug, Shawnna, Lil' Kim, and Diddy, its 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, RawLT answers why heavy is the head that wears the
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about some of your influences.
RawLT: My influences really are the streets and the
struggle. I dont 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 youve 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?
RawLT: 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, Im 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 Im 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
RawLT: Well, first, of course its 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, thats not what your mama named you.
They want to know your real name, but were working and were 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
cant 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 couldnt handle it..
I would just leave it alone and go to another situation. Im not going to
compromise myself, because youre a producer and you know I wanna rap.
Now that Ive grown in the industry in Houston, and have worked with so many people
Im glad I never took that road because those are the same people I come across
today and theres a respect there. It took awhile to get, but I got it.
AllHipHop.com: Youve collaborated with a lot of major
artists including As an unsigned artists female emcee thats hard to do, but
RawLT: Im 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. Its a real hot song. The track with
Juvenile is a banger too
and it was a pleasure working with him in the studio. Everybody Ive 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 wasnt nothing for me to reach out.
AllHipHop.com: If you could describe or categorize your
music, how would you do so?
RawLT: I would say its versatile. Im not hardcore, but
Im not commercial or pop. Versatile because I can take any beat and do
whatever with it.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the Hip-Hop Sorority?
RawLT: The In Crowd and its 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 Weve kept our kids together
and its grown. When we come together, we have a gathering, cook at each other
house, bring the kids together, we just have fun. Right now its only in Houston, but once it
grows theres no limit to where it can go.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us how you knew Pimp C and how his death
RawLT: 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
didnt want to show it, because you just cant 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, Thats 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 Im 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 Its 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. Theres 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 whats next, and we
[females] is like, We right here. We doing it. We didnt 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. Whats the Hip-Hop scene in Houston like right now?
RawLT: 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. Im not even focusing on anybody else.
AllHipHop.com: Is it hard juggling being a mother and
grinding as an artist?
RawLT: Its extra hard. People dont 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, its hard. I promise you its hard. I go through it, I
cry sometimes because my Momma wasnt there for me. My Daddy raised me and my
sisters. So, I dont want my son to feel nothing that Ive felt. When I am in
town or do have downtime, even if Im tired and wanna pass out. I still have to
find some kind of energy to spend with my child. Like, I said, I dont want him
to feel the same pain that I felt. [My mom] is in my life now. But coming up, I
didnt understand all that and I dont want my son to have to. But hes very
proud of me.
AllHipHop.com: You talked about how your mothers absence..
How did her drug abuse affected you?
RawLT: When we were younger, we stayed with my grandmother.
When [my mother] started using drugs, the times she was away was more
extensive. So, shed be gone. Eventually we started living with my dad. We made
it, but it was so hard. Youd look at other families and you go outside with
your playmates and their moms are calling them inside. My moms wasnt 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 wasnt 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 Im good, because God never neglected me and hes
the only one that matters. Im just now getting that understanding. But Im
good and about to take-over, Baby.
RawLT MySpace page is: www.myspace.com/rawlt