“Toes are tappin’, hands are clappin’;
My deejay’s on the cuts, and Sweet Tee’s rappin’,
Rockin’ the spot ’cause the jam is hot;
You think I’m through? Hmm…Not by a long shot!”
Twenty-plus years removed from her one and only, albeit, classic, nine-track solo debut, It’s Tee Time, pioneering Queens, New York, femcee, Sweet Tee, is finally back on the Hip-Hop scene, and more than ready to show & prove that after all this time the lovely lady born Toi Jackson can still easily go toe to toe with the best of ’em — Rappers beware!
“ I started off rhyming in the park, and I had to have a fresh rhyme every day just in case. My inspiration was just being able to express myself while rhyming. I was fascinated with that. ”
Back in the summer of ’95, you re-emerged on scene with the track “What’s up Star,” using a new moniker, Suga — Why didn’t this situation ever pan out? Were there actually plans then to do a whole project with Def Jam?
I was signed to Def Jam through JMJ Records. JMJ lost the deal with Def Jam, so I was caught in the middle. I was also in the middle of recording (a) CD when this happened.
It is my understanding now that you are finally working on another record –- Has your long overdue, brand new solo effort even been titled yet?
Yes, I am working on a solo project. We are meeting with producers, and formulating the tone of the CD at this time. No, it has not been titled yet.
Oh, okay. So, for someone, like my-self, who hasn’t heard anything from it just yet, what would you tell that person can be expected from Sweet Tee circa 2010?
We are in the beginning stages of putting the CD together at this time. I want to make sure that my music speaks to my current fans, and to new ones.
That makes sense! Well, how do you feel that this new project measures up to that of your ’89 debut release, It’s Tee Time?
It is hard to compare them, because my debut release was done in a totally different era.
Yeah, I guess you’re right. So, in the meantime, there’s your Best of Both Worlds mix-tape, which features Jay-Z, and is hosted by Kid Capri — Tell me about this project… And, how did you manage to collaborate with these two heavyweights in the game?
Well, I actually just took Jay-Z instrumentals and rhymed on them, and Kid Capri hosted the CD.
So then, what was it like working with the legendary Kid Capri?
It was an honor being in the studio with Kid Capri.
I bet! Well, take me way back…When did your first get started rhyming?
I started off rhyming in the park, and I had to have a fresh rhyme every day just in case. My inspiration was just being able to express myself while rhyming. I was fascinated with that.
You grew up in Queens, New York, right? So, whose music did you gravitate towards?
Yes. Michael Jackson. He was my husband! *Sweet Tee giggles*
When did you determine that you wanted to rap as a full-time occupation?
We didn’t know it would become a profession at that time, we were just having fun. The first record I recorded was with Davy DMX, and there was the birth of Sweet Tee the artist! A few years later, I signed management with Hurby Luv Bug.
Yeah, but first you hooked up with DJ Jazzy Joyce, correct? And then later, Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor, who eventually helped you ink with, the now defunct, Profile Records?
I was signed to Hurby Azor for management, and I recorded “It’s My Beat” with him the second day I knew him. Shortly after recording the record, I saw Jazzy Joyce deejaying and I wanted her to be on my record. We clicked, and made it happen! How I got my first deal was Hurby was at Profile Records where Dana Dane, who he was also managing at the time, was signed. He was trying to get them to change where Dana Dane was recording to Bayside Studios where I was recording. In hopes to convince them, Hurby played a tape of “It’s My Beat,” so that they could hear how clear the sound was. They were convinced, and they also wanted to know who the girl was that was rhyming. I was signed to Profile within 72 hours.
Dope! So, lyrically, where does your writing abilities stem from?
Yes, I write my own lyrics! And, I draw inspiration from my life, and things that go on around me.
Success, define yours?
I am honored just to be in the books as a pioneer.
How do you feel about today’s Hip-Hop compared to yester-year’s?
I think it is a lot different since my last deal, but I love the music.
With that being said, what about the business side of things with the rampant running of illegal downloading, file sharing and bootlegging that has slowly, but surely, destroyed the industry as “we” know it?
Yes, it is taking a toll on the music business, so now artists are becoming more creative with ways to make money.
On an unrelated music note, I hear you have an affinity for shooting pool…
I spend a lot of my free time in the pool hall taking people for their money! *More giggles* It is a desire of mine to play in pool tournaments, but I know in order to do that I will have to put my street game down and play with a more polished edge. We will see what happens with that.
Well, good luck with that! So, looking ahead, say, 5, or even 10, years from now, where do you see yourself??
I like to write screenplays, and I would like to have established myself as a writer for television and film in ten years.
What’s next for Sweet Tee?
We are in the studio working on my CD as we speak. The music is new, fresh and coming along.
Can’t wait! Well, are there any particular tour plans at this time?
I do classic shows, but hopefully I will take my new show on the road soon.
And finally, do you remain in touch with either of your, former, musical cohorts; Jazzy Joyce and/or Hurby Azor?
I still speak with Joyce, and we will get on the stage again before it’s all over.
Sadly, Thursday, June 25th 2009 the world lost the greatest entertainer who ever lived — What was your first reaction upon hearing the tragic news? How does Michael Jackson’s untimely passing affect, not only you, but, music in general? And, in the wake of his demise, what does this mean for the future of recorded music?
I miss him, and I still struggle with the fact that I’m not going to (be) anticipating anything from him, and the world no longer has him in it. I will always love him.