HHD: You knew you were talented and wanted to have an entertainment career at a young age. Early on your were derailed from that. You had to take some time off for personal business. For women in the entertainment industry it seems like you have to hurry up and get in before you miss out on your opportunity. For other females who have dreams similar to yours and they run into the same kind of situations you’ve encountered, what advice would have to give to them?
QP: The game is so different now. I would just tell them ‘Don’t stop’. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise that things are tougher for females in this industry whether it may be the artist side, business side, or magazine side. It just makes you fight harder. Women period, I think we have a lot more on our plates. We’re not as respected but we’re the reflection of what the dudes is talking about on the record…’You know my mom raised me on her own.’ We are the struggle.
HHD: Your first introduction to the world as an artist was on a platinum hit that instantly led you to basically tour the world. What did you learn during that time that you were able to apply to your career?
QP: It’s a bullshit game. That’s why I think I was always able to stay well grounded. When I came into the business I was coming straight from the street. Coming from where I come from you can’t forget your struggles. I don’t know how people can forget it, I know I can’t . I know I can’t forget going in and out of town hustling just to feed my kids. I think that what I got from that was ‘Oh, okay this is some real bullshit here.’ I carry that with me. I have my bullshit meter. Even at times when it would have benefitted me to put myself in a company of bullshit and fake muthafuckas…i didn’t want those types of rewards.
HHD: Tell us about your high risk teen programs in Harlem and Brooklyn. What are you offering the youth?
QP: We have this program, it’s called Children of Promise, I’m on the board of directors for. All of the children in the program, either one of their parents or both of their parents are incarcerated. Every child has his or her own issues. Children with incarcerated parents, they’re dealing with child abandonment issues. A lot of them are in the foster care system. We’re dealing with children who have been passed around the foster care system. We offer that relationship. We make sure that they get to see their parents. Right now we’re working on video-conferencing where they can be able to go in the room for 15 minutes once a month and they can have a video visit. I go in and out of the high schools and junior high schools. I deal with the issues that a lot of times their teachers and parents can’t break through because I’ve been there. There’s nothing that a teenager can tell me. The fact of the matter is that I’m sitting there and I’m talking with them, I’m not talking at them. We’re talking together and I’m talking of experience. I’m in and out of Rikers Island dealing with juvenile incarcerated. Right now I’m working on a mentorship at the female prison a Rikers Island. It was so amazing to me, after I did “No Diggity”, how many people cared about what came out my mouth. My whole motto was if you can run me ragged to do promo for an album and I can do all the radio stations in this city, promo with the freak shows, back then we was signing cds, then you can put me in an inner city school. I want to tell them ‘If I can make it, you can do it because I done touched death plenty of times.’ I’ve been doing this ever since I did “No Diggity”. I felt it was my obligation to do.
HHD: Right now you’re working on your third album, which will be released in Summer 2010. What can we expect from this project?
QP: I guess what people always expect, just me and whatever I’m going through at the time. I’ve gone through a lot. People who didn’t know me on the music side, these past years they’ve gotten to know me through the publishing side, through the book. I only can write what I know and what I feel. A verse here or there may be painful, but life has been painful and that’s how it’s been for millions and millions of women.
HHD: Speaking of you writing your book, what inspired you to begin writing novels and the collection of short stories that you wrote?
QP: I always wrote. My mother still has some of my short stories when I was seven years old. I was signed with Interscope but my loyalty was to Teddy. Teddy made a promise and he came to get me to do “No Diggity”. Teddy said, tell them that you want to get out your contract, I’m doing my new deal. Long story short I did that after begging and begging. Long story short, Teddy decided not to do the deal after all of that and that left me deal-less. So I went back to writing “Trick” which is one of the stories in my collection of short stories. I just kept writing and said I’m a do three or six more of these little stories and take my money…see I had 100% publishing… and I printed it and put it out myself. That was a blessing in disguise. I find bigger and better things out of bad situations. I sold over 83,000 on my own. That led me to my two book deal with Simon & Schuster.
HHD: What do you want to be remembered for?
QP: My community work, change. You know the music’s gonna be there, the book’s gonna be there, but what is the purpose of being there if you don’t have the capability of making a change. Everybody should leave this earth, even if it’s making a change through your children, with making a change. I now have new legislation that’s on the floor in New York where I’m changing all the laws on domestic violence in New York wich means there’ll be a Queen Pen’s law next year. These are laws that never were touched that I decided since 2006 to change. That has been more important to me than anything in my music career because it’s really making a change. Not just a change for my family but a change for millions of people and that’s what I would like to be remembered by.
HHD: When can we expect your up coming single, “Please Forgive Me”?
QP: That is not my single. People have made that my single. When I go down to Atlanta to do this show with Blackstreet, I’m in the studio with Teddy to do these three records. Nobody has singles these days. Right now is the time to get in where you fit in and do what the hell you want to do. For me it’s the mix show djs, the djs in the club who say this should be the single. When I come, I’m coming and I’m flooding the market. But people like “Please Forgive Me”. I don’t know why. It’s a very truthful song. I cried in the booth doing that song.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
QP: An honest woman who’s comfortable in her skin. You ain’t comfortable in your skin you can’t be no diva at all.
Check Queen Pen out at www.queenpenmusic.com