SUGA T, July 9, 1999

Suga T, the queen of Vallejo's first family of hip-hop, is returning to her roots. As part of The Click, which includes brothers E-40 and D-Shot and cousin B-Legit, she helped turn the underground respect of independent label Sick Wid It Records into major-label success with songs like "Hurricane" and "Scandalous." Now, she has taken it upon herself to promote and release her latest solo album. But that's not all. The versatile rapper and singer has taken on a variety of acting roles while maintaining an active presence in the community, running a business and raising a family. Suga T took time out of her busy schedule to chat with The 411 Online.

So you've got a new album coming out?

"Yeah, it's a production I put together called Suga T and Friends, Gettin' It. It's under an entertainment company that I've been handling for a while called Pushin' Hits Management."

What's the first single?

"Itís an underground release titled "Can You Handle This?" produced by a producer named Erotic. The second one is a release titled "Gettin' It," and that features E-40. That's the one that everyone will hear about."

You said the album credits Suga T "and Friends." What kind of people are you going to have on it?

"I have Money B, Conscious Daughters, Rodney O, MC Breed, Silk E Fyne, Yo-Yo, Levitti ..."

So now you're totally independent? No more Jive?

"I'm a Jive artist still with The Click. We're working on our group album. We're looking for a November release, somewhere around there."

Since you were involved with Sick Wid It Records from the start, you're certainly familiar with coming up independently.

"I grew up with the Sick Wid It record label, so it taught me a lot of the rules of the independent game. I'm just tryin' it. What can I lose?"

Is the success more rewarding if you do it on your own rather than having a major label behind you?

"Well, it's scary. With my solo album, it was really hard for me, because major labels... I don't want to say that they don't do their part, but there's always some kind of politics behind it. They give up on you quick, and I don't think they really care about you.. I just wanna always have my own back. With me being a single parent and, besides having a teenager, also having a young child, it will secure me knowing that if I'm going to lose in this business, I'm going to lose for myself, not from being on a major label and just sittin' there waitin' for them to do what they're supposed to do when they get ready to do it... I don't mean to sound really negative toward the majors...but independent labels are the ones that take care of me and hire me all the time."

How does the acting fit in to all of this?

"I'm doing a few movies. One of them is called "Obstacles," and that one is produced by my brother, D-Shot, and I am playing the co-star in that production as his big sister. But I'm actually his little sister. And also there's another production called "Mob Figures" and we're shooting that now. "Charlie Hustle" is a documentary about the life of my brother, E-40. Then there's a documentary called "Not Born To Be A Gangster" and I narrated that production, which is going to be shown on PBS and HBO. Oh, and I'm also co-hosting the Raiders' TV show. It might sound like I'm Superwoman but I don't have to do that every day. Just like maybe once every two weeks."

Not only have you had success as a rapper, but you've also done a lot of singing -- on your albums as well as background vocals for other artists. Do you know which direction you want to take your career in?

"Let's just say my singing is going to be a surprise to the world. Rappin' is my kiddie side. Singing is my womanhood."

And now you throw acting into the mix...

"Acting is my belief. Hopefully one day I can do a major part. Actually, I'm doing a trailer right now where I'm playing an African queen. I lost touch with my family, but I'm running a talk show. So there's lots of opportunities. We'll see which one feeds the children."

Other than putting out your new album, what is your management company up to?

"My company does a lot of consulting for independent labels that haven't had a chance to do the things that I've had a chance to do. So what I do for them is help them put together projects and get artists for compilation albums. I also help them coordinate their project and put together a marketing plan. I just try to help them accomplish their goals, or at least get them further than where they started in a faster, cheaper and honest way. Then they can go on and take it from there and be a step ahead."

With all this going on, do you find that your background with an independent label helps you with every new thing you take on?

"It does. It really does. Because, I'll tell ya, if I would have been concentrating on just being popular and gettin' on the screen every second, I think that's all I would have been doing. I would rather have the knowledge than a whole bunch of money. That way I'm not dependent on the person that has the knowledge. I feel a lot more secure."

You also do a lot of work in the community, right?

"I do a lot of work with the kids. We're in the process of incorporating this program I started for the Hayward Unified School District called the "Community Care Program." What I did was bring panelists in to speak to the kids about issues like gang awareness, violence prevention, media conflict, teenage pregnancy, AIDS and other topics that could help give the children some knowledge and a taste of reality."

-- Mason Storm, The 411 Online

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