The Lady Of Rage, who calls her time at Death Row Records a “dope experience” where she learned about musicality, recently spoke with Billboard about witnessing what she calls the “crumbling” of a “dynasty” when it was time for her to craft her debut album, Necessary Roughness.
“When I first got to Death Row, the lineup was going to be Dr. Dre, Snoop [Dogg], myself, and then Dogg Pound,” Lady Of Rage says in an interview for Billboard’s Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop article. “For whatever reason, Dogg Pound came out before me. I don’t know the reason, but I know that when it was time for my album Necessary Roughness to be produced, the dynasty was crumbling. Dre was leaving, Snoop was unhappy and on the verge of leaving, Suge was locked up, and [Tupac Shakur] was assassinated. And then it’s like, ‘Alright Rage, you’re up next.’
“I didn’t have the conductor and I didn’t have the same help that everyone else had when it was time for their albums to be produced,” Lady Of Rage continues. “Everybody came in and contributed for The Chronic, Doggystyle and Dogg Food. Everybody came in for Above the Rim and ‘Murder Was The Case.’ When it was my turn, it was just me. I second-guessed myself. I have the highest confidence in my lyrics, but when it came to formatting and the sound, I depended on somebody else for that. That’s always how it was always done, even with the L.A. Posse and Premiere. I’m not the producer. I’m the lyricist and I brought my part of the equation to the table. When the other part of the equation was missing, I had to fill in, but I’m not skilled on that level. I had bitter feelings and I held a grudge about that for a long time. But I got over it because I felt like if it was meant to happen another way, it would have happened another way.”
Lady Of Rage says her album, Necessary Roughness, features some of her best lyrics and she says she feels her lyrics from then could “rival some of the stuff that’s out today.” She also says the album helped her achieve a goal.
“Back then, it was so much about respect from your peers,” she says. “I wanted to be known as a dope emcee. In future years, I wanted to be in the discussion of dope female emcees and some of the greatest to do it. I feel like I did achieve that.”
Lady Of Rage recently signed with the Shirley Wilson Agency and she is working with Fred Hampton Jr. on a docu-drama about the life of Fred Hampton. She says she hopes to release the docu-drama by the end of 2014. She is also working on her final album.
“I’m going to put my all into this project and that’s going to be my exit,” she says. “It’s like a relationship. If it’s over, it’s over. [Hip-hop] I love you, but I don’t want to be with you anymore. I can still admire you from afar, but that’s it. I will always love you, but I have to move on.”
In 2007, Lady Of Rage spoke with HipHopDX about what she missed most when thinking of Death Row Records.
“Just the camaraderie,” she said at the time. “The little functions that we would have. It was like your own little family, and just the things that we would do together. Studio vibes. Going to the studio smoking, drinking, just listening to beats, creating on the spot and that whole little flavor right there. I miss it.”
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