By: Todd Davis
Lady Tigra (Rachel de Rougemont) first rose to fame in the late eighties as one half of the, then, popular Miami Bass female rap duo, L’Trimm. Tigra, a Hollis, Queens, by way of Kendall [a suburb in Miami], Florida, native, and her partner-in-rhyme, Bunny D’s, biggest hit-to-date, ‘Cars with the Boom,’ an ode to subwoofers, quickly became a top 40 hit and provided L’Trimm a chance opportunity to embark on a national tour. Atlantic Records took notice, and quickly signed the femme tag-team to a record deal. L’Trimm’s sophomore album, Drop That Bottom, followed, but unfortunately was only met with a moderate amount of success. By the time their third project, Groovy, dropped, the ladies had already disbanded due to a variety of both personal and professional reasons.
Rap Industry Dot Com spoke to Lady Tigra, who cites Slick Rick, Eric B & Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, and 2 Live Crew as her strongest musical influences, on the eve-of-the-release of her years-in-the-making solo debut, Please Mr. BoomBox
Welcome back! Musically, it’s been quite a long time since you were last heard from — Where the heck have you been?
LADY TIGRA: Thanks, I’m glad to be back. I’ve been living in New York and Miami. I’m currently living in L.A.
What exactly have you been doing during your lengthy career hiatus?
LADY TIGRA: After L’Trimm, I stayed close to music and fashion by throwing parties and helping launch a high-end clothing line on South Beach, (and) then running nightclubs in New York.
‘91’s Groovy wasn’t as warmly received as your first two group efforts — Why do you think that is?
LADY TIGRA: Groovy was a departure from the kind of music Bunny and I traditionally made. It was a lot less Miami Bass/Hip-Hop, and more House/New Jack Swing. The label felt this was a better direction to go in. The fans didn’t.
Following this release, what actually caused L’Trimm to disband?
LADY TIGRA: Bunny and I weren’t as enthusiastic about the direction our music was going in. We wanted to pursue other creative outlets.
Why have you since opted to remain absent from music for such a long time?
LADY TIGRA: I’ve never stopped making music with friends. And, working with deejays and bands in the nightclubs allowed me to stay close to music; which is my passion. So, I’ve never really been absent from music. Just not as visible.
You titled your long overdue solo debut, Please Mr. BoomBox — Tell me why?
LADY TIGRA: My “BoomBox” was my world as a kid. It was where I got to hear new rap songs on the radio, and where I got to share mix-tapes with friends and family. People carried their boom-boxes, and you got to hear what they were listening to, (and) talk to them about new artists or deejays you might not have found on your own. It was communal. The title of the album is sort of a plea to my “BoomBox” to bring back that feeling of community and discovery to music. It’s also a command to the world to bring that feeling back by “Pleasing Mr. Boombox” with good music. Also, “Mr. BoomBox” sounds a little dirty.
For someone who has yet to hear your solo effort, what would you tell that person can be expected?
LADY TIGRA: It’s very Bass, Old School, with an Electro, Caribbean twist. I rhyme in French and Creole on a couple of tracks. Expect it to be very unexpected at times and very familiar at others.
What are your favorite moments on or about the new CD?
LADY TIGRA: I love the song I did with MC Lyte called ‘They Stole My Radio.’ She’s my favorite female emcee, and a genuinely sweet person. I’m also excited about the dreamier, more experimental tracks in French and Creole, like ‘The Fall of Tchitchi’ and ‘Cauchemars.’ One of my best friends, Mr. Sandwiches, produced the album, and Abnormal, a really talented emcee wrote a couple of tracks on it. I’m very pleased with the entire thing overall.
How do you feel that this solo project measures up to that of those previous L’Trimm releases?
LADY TIGRA: This album holds its’ own. It’s definitely a classic. My old fans will be happy.
With that being said, how would you say it either differs and/or compares to those other group efforts?
LADY TIGRA: It’s an evolution of L’Trimm. I’m mostly picking up where we left off. ‘Bass on the Bottom’ is a shout-out to Bunny, and our old stuff. But, there are times when the sound is uniquely me and I like that, too.
When did your first become exposed to music?
LADY TIGRA: I grew up in a very large, musical family. There was always music blaring from the stereo, (and) just about everyone plays an instrument or sings. When we’re together, there’s never a moment that someone isn’t walking around the house singing loudly, playing an instrument or album, or making up funny songs. In fact, my mom just released her first album. It’s in my blood.
So, a career in music was only inevitable?
LADY TIGRA: It was more of an organic happening than a decision. As I said, I was inundated with music from the time I was born. It seemed natural that I’d eventually find a way to do it in a professional capacity, either as a front person or behind the scenes.
So then, how did it all begin for L’Trimm?
LADY TIGRA: Bunny and I met when we were featured dancers on a local, Miami Bass dance show called Miami Teen Express. It was produced by the members of The Gucci Crew, who later became our label-mates. Mighty Rock, a local rapper, was our ride home from school, and we stopped at his label so he could pick up some tapes. The producers asked us if we could rap, and we wrote and recorded our first single, ‘Grab It,’ that night.
Since you all had already been friends, I guess this wasn’t your first time rhyming together?
LADY TIGRA: Bunny and I were best friends in high school. We used to write rhymes and battle the boys during lunch. By the time we were asked to write a song for Hot Productions, we already had an arsenal of rhymes, and we were used to flowing together.
How did you come to be known as Lady Tigra?
LADY TIGRA: I used to wear cat-eye make up, and file my nails to a point in junior high. A little French boy in the 6th grade had a crush on me, but I wasn’t feeling him back. He used to say, “Everyone thinks you’re a pussycat, but you’re really a tigra!” Ti gra also means “little fatso” in Creole, so my family really loved the nickname since I was always a skinny kid. They’ve got mad jokes! I used it as my tag, and eventually my MC name.
[Their moniker, L’Trimm, actually derives from a, then, popular designer brand of blue jeans, Trim, and they added the “L” prefix to give it a French feel]
How has Hip-Hop evolved or changed since your whole inception into it?
LADY TIGRA: I’m in love with Hip-Hop. It’s easy to talk shit and say Hip-Hop is all bad right now. Music is all bad right now! But, in every era in musical history, there have been morons with little talent making money from it. From that, the gems stand out, and stand the test of time. Bob Marley, Mozart, and Nina Simone all had crappy peers. I’d rather talk about what I love about the state of Hip-Hop today. Like the fact that women are no longer an anomaly. Missy is a dope producer! And, that there are still brilliant lyricists out there like Nas.
What happened to that good ole fashioned Miami Bass sound?
LADY TIGRA: That sound, as well, has evolved and spread throughout the southern Hip-Hop community, and now throughout the world with all the Electro. Miami Bass is now universal music. Everyone can relate to a party.
Over the course of the years, how have you withstood the true test of time?
LADY TIGRA: I write songs that I, my family, and my friends like. That’s a pretty large and diverse group. I’d never write songs I wouldn’t buy myself. So, I don’t subject my fans to that. I’d rather not make music at all, than make songs I don’t believe in. And, I think that shows in my music. It’s personal and intimate.
Is that the best way to categorize your sound?
LADY TIGRA: It’s familiar, it’s different, (and) it’s a party. It makes you think, and it makes you forget.
What do you feel it is that will keep sustaining you in this grueling industry?
LADY TIGRA: I deal with the industry only when I have to. I make music all the time. I’ll still be writing even if I’m not a part of the rat-race. The industry is a by-product, not the reason I write. My love of music is what keeps me going.
What has been the highlight of your lengthy career?
LADY TIGRA: Finding out that people still wanted to hear what I had to say, and that a lot of them still liked it. It’s pretty cool when I get emails from kids who’ve found the new album on their own, and discover that their parents listened to our old music. Two generations of family sharing my music. That isn’t something I thought I’d experience (in) my lifetime — It’s humbling.
What would people be most surprised to know about Lady Tigra?
LADY TIGRA: I love going out and listening to live music, (and) supporting local bands. I love to read, I crochet, (and) I spend a lot of time with my animals, friends & family. There’s almost always music involved though. I’m lucky I get to laugh a lot.
Do you have any other outside aspirations?
LADY TIGRA: Yes, I want to do as much charity work as time and money will allow me to, especially in Haiti. It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, probably the poorest, and it’s right in our backyard. Very little effort or money goes a very long way in Haiti.
What is the first single and/or video you are actively working from Please Mr. BoomBox?
LADY TIGRA: I’m still deciding which, of three tracks, will be the first single. I did a video for ‘Bass on the Bottom,’ and have been accepting treatments for another track. I really love the ‘Bass on the Bottom’ video, so I’m excited to see if I can top it with the next one.
Please Mr. BoomBox is available, when exactly?
LADY TIGRA: We’ve done a soft release on iTunes and Amazon, so it’s available for download now. There’s no date for a physical release yet.
Will you tour in support of the project?
LADY TIGRA: No plans yet, though I’m really excited to bring the new material on the road. I’m booking shows locally in the meantime.
And finally, do you and Bunny D still remain in touch?
LADY TIGRA: Bunny’s like my sister. We speak regularly. She’s one of the funniest people I know, and a great source of support and inspiration.
When was the last time you all spoke?
LADY TIGRA: Yesterday; for 3 hours!
Personally & professionally, what has she been up to lately?
LADY TIGRA: She’s got a beautiful family, and she’s a nurse in Indiana. She and her husband have four brilliant, well behaved, gorgeous kids, and she’s still fly! She’s super-woman!
And, futuristically speaking — Is there any chance of an L’Trimm reunion?
LADY TIGRA: There’s always a chance, but we haven’t planned on it. She’s got a lot going on with 4 kids!
Do you have any message for the readers of Rap Industry Dot Com?
LADY TIGRA: I really want to thank all the fans for the love. I feel so inspired and encouraged thanks to the fans. I love the new ones as much as the old ones, they keep me going.