With her still-new-enough-to-smell-the-newness-on-it radio show at ThisIs50.com already receiving nominations via the 2011 UMA Awards, Radio & TV Personality/Producer Maya The B has proven that once one door closes, another one opens. Formerly one-third of ThisIs50.com talk-show mainstay The Round Table Show (alongside hip-hop executive Lenny S & former DJ Ron G manager Big Lite, which was at one time produced by the Founder of Avenue 1) and also one-third of it’s spin-off brand The Syndies (which enjoyed success under the Thisis50.com banner), the NYC transplant via Boston has carved quite a resume for herself…by herself, primarily operating as a one-woman machine throughout most, if not all of her radio run.
It took a year, but we finally caught up with the speedy power girl to talk a variety of topics, as nothing seemed to be off-limits.
Avenue 1: This is honestly one of the few times in hip-hop right now where putting out an album to a degree can take a backseat to consistently performing – do you think this could backfire for the business in a couple of years, or can help regain some of the creative art that has been lacking for sometime now?
Maya the B: Well, in order to get booked for shows you need material out. So I wouldn’t say that putting out an album takes a backseat because it’s needed in order to have the opportunity to even perform. But, I will say that to the established artist or a buzzing artist- concerts are one of the main sources of income. Since the internet allows people to download music for free- album sales have suffered, so shows have become one of the necessary ways to make money. Creatively, performance wise- I think it makes artist dig deeper- especially rappers to have more entertaining shows to keep their fans wanting more.
Do you think the internet community pays too much attention to what artists tweet?
I think twitter is amazing. It’s a great tool for upcoming artists and established stars. Definitely, the public takes every word to heart and the press will take 140 characters and turn it into a news story. But, overall twitter is a positive outlet to get to know your favorite artist and get some inside into their lives.
What song do you hear and wish you had written?
Wow. Let’s see. There’s so many. I would probably say anything by Sade. I love her & her band. They’re so passionate about their music and you can feel it. I’m all about the emotion that music brings out of you. And, Sade always makes me feel sentimental. “Love is Found” off her last album is in heavy rotation in my library at the moment.
What was the first album you bought with your own money?
Actually, FUNNY STORY! Me and my sister caught wind of “Columbia House” which looked like a steal when you’re 10 years old and they’re advertising 10 cd’s for 1 cent! So of course we took advantage of that and ordered a whole bunch of CD’s including Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle.” Later, we learned that in order to take advantage of this deal- you signed onto buying 6 cds or something throught the year for regular price! Soon we got a collections letter and my dad was SHOCKED to see that Columbia House didn’t do any type of inquiry to see how old their customers were before signing them up! It was pretty funny but we started our every growing CD collection with that experience!
What was different about the business in Boston versus the business in New York?
Well, Boston doesn’t have an “entertainment” industry. I did everything I could there before realizing I needed more and that could only be found in the entertainment capital of the world, New York City! I came to NY with an open heart and mind and took advantage of every opportunity that came my way. The city will take you down if you allow it to, but it will also bring you to the top if you put in work and dedication towards your passion! Definitely the city where dreams can come true!
We’ve seen bloggers get into singing careers, including B.Scott – tell the truth, are we going to see a Maya the B album?
Take us through your first radio gig, and the experience, while knowing that you were going to pursue a lane in the field.
Well, I didn’t always know radio would be my love. I actually started in radio in Boston at WJMN 94.5’s promo department. It was there I fell in love with it and started to explore the idea of becoming an on-air personality. When I got to NYC – I started producing and interviewing a vide magazine w/ a high school friend. It was called GWOP and focused on celebrity’s financials. This was my first time conducting on-camera interviews. Not to toot my own horn but I was a natural. Having no formal training, my love for Hip Hop and all its components made me very curious to know what goes into making the music and the movement. I ask things from a fan point of view, because that’s what I am; first and foremost. I got introduced to radio when I did my first interview w/ DWI from “Da Matrix” which is an underground radio station in the Bronx. I came up to promote GWOP and kind of took over the show. I have always been an entertainer. Since, I was a kid I enjoyed making people laugh and it gave me so much pleasure to do so. After that interview, I started my own show at Da Matrix studios and since then- I’ve been going super hard trying to work my way up to larger platforms.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you when they first meet you?
What’s funny is people often think I’m going to be “hollywood.” I’m really a down to earth person. I love people. I will never, ever be pompous or presumptuous. I respect everyone’s story. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt . Some folks feel like they have the right to change with the onset of fame. But, in my opinion- the only way you can make it through this industry- is to remain true to yourself. When you start acting like youre too good for people you once fucked with- karma comes around to bite you in the ass. When people throw shade my way- I try to brush it off and keep going and take solace in the fact that one day- those people who turned their back on me when I needed them- will be looking to be apart of my movement. That is personally satisfying to me. And, I don’t shit on them when those times do come around. If anything, I help them and make them feel stupid for jerking me. You must lead by example so that people can follow and do the right thing.
You’re one of the few female media personalities in the New York City area who works hands on behind the scenes with your career. How important is being hands-on, and is having a backbone of sorts among a field of ego-drenched men play a factor in it?
Man, if you don’t know your craft from the bottom up- you’re doing yourself a great disservice. I’m a leader that gets down and does the dirty work. We cleaning the bathroom today? I’m right their scrubbing toilets with my team. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. In order to be a boss, you have to be able to put in the work on all levels. People don’t respect those who delegate but have no idea what it takes to do the work. I try to make my team feel like they’re individually important- which they are- and encourage them to give me their best because that’s what I only know how to give in return. Being a woman in charge comes with great challenges. Not only do I have to prove myself to the higher ups, I have to prove myself to my team who are almost all men. Historically, women have taken the backseat so I’m part of the minority that drive this MF-er! I won’t allow the idea to enter into my head that men are inferior to women. Socially- I can’t change the world but individually- I do believe there are women out there that are capable if not more capable of doing a job better than a man! This is not because I’m sexist because I love men and women the same. Really might love men more but I also love the fact that women are underestimated. That motivates me to blow past people’s expectations and take everything I do to the next level.
Did you feel coming into the business early on that there was pressure on you to skin yourself out, like appearing near-naked in one of the magazines out there like a Straight Stuntin’ Magazine despite your strong pure knowledge and position of the culture and business?
Ha! Well, again not to be conceded because I’m not- but I’ve always been sought after by the men and looked up to by women. I try to put myself in that space where you have to fuck with me because I really don’t give you a reason not to. My x-factor is that I don’t use looks to get to where I want to go. I put in work and want people to take me seriously because of my grind and intelligence. If I got naked or did videos- it would be 100 times harder for me to be looked at in that light. Not knocking models because that’s their craft, it’s just not mine. I want the focus to be on the quality of me as a person. I want to be that woman that you want to hang out with, watch sports, play video games and have long, interesting convos with. If you fantasize about being with me, too! That’s a plus! At this point in my life, I’ve really come to the understanding of inner beauty. Your appearance changes with time, but your inner soul always flourishes and gets more beautiful with age. With all this being said, I definitely think it’s vital for females to have imppecable upkeep just because we are judge by our looks, but at the same time don’t neglect your spirit.
The fellas want to know, are you dominant or submissive?
LOL. We’ll I’m both. I’m guessing we’re talking intimacy with this one? I would say I’m submissively dominant. I like to make a man feel like he’s a man- so I definitely don’t try to overpower him. I love male energy. I’m so not ever going to be bisexual or a lesbian. There’s nothing like the smell, touch and presence of a man. I thank God for putting them on this earth to complete us as women. I’m very pleasing, sometimes to a fault. When I’m with someone- I want them to feel like they’re the only man in the world for me.
To be able to move from your early project (with a person who’s name we won’t mention here) to doing the Round Table Show, to The Syndies, to now your own show on ThisIs50.com, how have you been able to maintain the same approach and formula that obviously works because of the numerous award nominations
Well, I think the circle of people you work with is constantly changing until you find a winning combination. I’m a driving force so with any project I do- I’m’ thinking next level all the time. NOTHING is every good enough and I believe you can never be the best because you can always do better. It’s a hard ideology to live by but it keeps me on my toes at all times. Shout out to the Syndies and Lenny S!
What was your vision early on doing ‘the first project’ and eventually The Round Table Show? The latter has spawned A LOT of imitators might we add.
I started Kitty Radio, which was my first show- thinking that there needs to be some more female voices in Hip Hop and urban culture, overall. The Round Table show came about when Lenny S from Def Jam asked me to do a radio show with him. This was one of my career defining moments and definitely a stepping stone in my career. I can’t even express my love and thanks to Lenny for believing in me. A man that works with one of the greatest rappers of all time (Jay-Z) chose me to be apart of his movement. I felt like, man, finally I’m getting somewhere. He probably will never know how big that was for me. I also think Lenny had no idea what he was in for. We knew each other but he didn’t really know me. Within one month- we went from radio to live online video broadcasting. We were one of the first, if not the first to have a weekly, late night live Hip Hop internet TV show. I discovered a company that would give us the space and produce the show in exchange for exclusive content for their site. We really became a staple in NYC and everyone- from celebrities to locals would come and watch the show which gave it a Jay Leno/Letterman type of vibe with a live studio audience. Truly an amazing ride. And, of course we encouraged a onslaught of online shows which was inevitable. Flattering is the highest form of a compliment and all that did for me was push me to be 10 steps ahead of the competition which I believe I’ve been doing to this day, pretty successfully. It’s just really cool to be apart of this whole online entertainment boom!
What was the most difficult part of bringing the shows to life?
Well, besides having to be entertaining- I booked almost all the shows. Def had a lot of help, but the responsibility of creating dope shows was always on my shoulders. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be as relevant as terrestrial radio and network television shows. I was getting guests that they were getting which helped the overall popularity of the movement because people were pretty shocked that it could be done. Plus, when I had Lenny it was pretty easy to get huge guests since his name carries a lot of weight and respect in the industry. Sometimes I would just have to say “Lenny S” wants you to come and sure enough they’d be there! Over the years I’ve established a rapport with celebs so now I’m able to get people to interview off my work, which is so amazing. They even wanna hang out with me! lol Most of all though, you need a great team of folks. Like your own Chuck Holliday! You need people that believe in you and the movement to have success in any business. I have been blessed with those types of people who I truly wouldn’t be able to do this without.
What are some of your most memorable moments doing the shows?
Another tough question! There are so many moments that I can’t believe I’ve had. I grew up listening to artists like Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Joe Budden, EPMD, etc so when I got to meet them it’s like WTF!? I’m a super fan. I eat, sleep, live Hip Hop. Especially from the 90s. When I get the opportunity to interview these people it’s like a fans dream come true. Not on some groupie shit but on an admiration level. I had a chance to talk to Rick Ross first hand about the CO situation. How many people can say that? I’ve done an ass test on Coco, Ice-T’s wife. I’ve talked to Raekwon about Biggie beef. This is what people mean when they say that it’s so important to love what you do for work. Now, I work for one of my biggest role models, 50 Cent. This man gave me my 2000 swag! Before starting thisis50 Radio- 50 has been an unwavering favorite in my life. From his music to his mind- I appreciate this man and try to emulate what he would think was impressive. Thanks to Nelson at G-Unit he’s allowed me to be apart of the brand that I have so much respect for throughout the years. It’s truly a dream come true and something that I never thought would happen to me, ever! If nothing else comes of my career, I can still look back on my life and say “wow, I was part of 50’s brand.” That’s huge.
How annoying can it be that some of the rappers who are positioning themselves for interviews outright kiss your ass?
Ha. Well, that’s the nature of the game. The entertainment industry is filled with frauds and phonies. People talking about they’re doing this and doing that. What’s great is I can just “google” you and if nothing comes up- most likely I won’t interview you. Not because I’m a bitch but because it doesn’t make sense for me to interview someone who has no presence online. Since my shows are based on internet viewership- I need my guests to have some sort of appeal to tune in. So, I keep it 100 with people trying to come on the show and share that info with them. Basically, get your weight up so it makes sense for both of us. But, I will always be an outlet for the underground/upcoming artists. I think that’s super important. It’s my duty to the people to put you onto the next big thing.
Who would we be surprised to learn is in your music collection?
Let’s see. I’m an eclectic person. I’m known for having “confused” mixes of music. I’m really big into movie soundtracks and scores. I enjoy watching films that have thoughtfully chosen their music. I love the score for the Bourne movie series. Love those strings and climatic peaks. I love the Lincoln Lawyer score. They chose so many great, classic records from Gang Starr to Bobby Blue Band – which was really impressive. I like emotional music. Not sad and weepy shit but music that brings any emotion out in you. That’s the point of art right?
Is your legacy important to you?
Of course! If anything, I want to leave my mark on this world. We only live once and have one opportunity to be the greatest you can be. I want to be more than an entertainment personality. I want to be a great person. That’s something you have to work for every single day for the rest of your life. I want to help people and create opportunities for folks. Again, not just in the entertainment industry. I see myself doing more for the human race. Something that will help us all better ourselves as human beings.
(Photo Credit: Manny C, Element, & Darija/MyHipHopLife.com)