Although the roles have evolved, the incessant need of established and fledging artist alike is the need for an entourage. As of now, the crew includes a stylist, both fashion and hair, publicist, road manager, videographer and various miscellaneous cats referred to in hip-hop parlance as “my mans and them,” the size of which is contingent on the heat of the act.
With that many cogs in the wheel, conspicuously absent is perhaps the person of most importance—the one who can stand up for you when things go wrong (and things will, at some point, go wrong) and protect your artistic and financial interest, as well as things that can affect your very life. Can we say lawyer? I know, it’s not as sexy as a huge mass of followers, but in essence, if an artist has talent, focus and good legal representation, he or she can accomplish and retain more of their resources.
Experience serving as the best teacher, hip-hop artist Tracey Lee, having gone through the peaks and valleys of being an artist, is poised to set sail again on the music seas after nearly two decades. He returns with a strong new album and an even stronger team in place.
As a quick reminder as to who Lee is, revisit the year 1997. One of the songs of the year, its “Mount Aire Groove” sound bed and the infectious hook of an old “Schoolhouse Rock!” segment combined to give Lee the springboard smash debut artists fiend for with “The Theme (It’s Party Time).” Remember “And everywhere that my crew go/Like Philly, New York or D.C./You know we get down, you know we get down.”
Hit single aside, his debut album, “Many Facez,” displayed some real wordplay and lyricism. Street tales of PSK or Steady B or the G-rated fare of the Fresh Prince notwithstanding, they were traits rappers from Philadelphia weren’t necessarily noted for. Since then, the floodgates opened, giving a path to Black Thought, Beanie Siegel, Gillie the Kid, Cassidy and Meek Mills.
Still Ginsu knife-sharp with his pen, the new project, “ESQ. The Revelation,” is an audio reality series that documents the growth of Lee as a man and emcee (check out “Visions” and “Devil’s Advocate”) under the LLeft Entertainment label, a company he co-owns with his wife, Lori Nelson Lee. As a muse for the return, it’s not just to give back to the culture from which he acquired much or to show that he can compete on the mic even now, but they do come into play. Said Lee, “I’ve matured lyrically and musically, and the evolution is apparent. My favorite artists of all time, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, I listen to them daily, along with the Earth, Wind and Fires, the O’Jays and the Philadelphia International sounds, so why not put that into what I’m doing?
“The live instrumentation, the arrangements, the compositions and overall movement of the records. That’s the approach I wanted to take, not only on this album, but henceforth. But as an MC, please don’t get it twisted. I still live and breathe the culture that we call hip-hop. Therefore, as we say in the hip-hop culture, I still got bars, my flow is still impeccable and I can still spit with the best of them.”
That real push is from a higher place. Said Lee, “My wife just gave birth to our first child, and as she begins her journey in life, I want her to see what her daddy does, not what her daddy used to do.” See what talent and focus can get you?
As for the good legal representation, he’s covered as well, having earned a Juris Doctor degree from Southern University Law Center. Yes, the “Esq” that’s in the album title is also in his professional title. Said Lee, “Obtaining a law degree was a natural progression. I decided instead of being upset with the music game and the players, let me learn about the game and contractual jargon, especially if you’re trying to get your paper straight.
“I looked at the move not just for me, but for the artist after me. You can get a lawyer, but is it an entertainment lawyer? Is it someone who not only understands the particulars of entertainment and recording? That’s what I offer through experience. I’ll have your best interest at heart, because I was and am an artist.”
“Esq. The Revelation” is available via iTunes, amazon and www.traceyleemusic.com. Also, if you’re looking for some Philly love this weekend, Kindred the Family Soul are giving it up at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (237 W. 42nd St.) Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Over and out for me. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.