#1 YANDY SMITH
Ballin’, Love & Hip-Hop
BY MARCUS BLASSINGAME
Harlemite, Yandy Smith is a music industry vet who’s had a part in the careers of some of today’s biggest hip-hop acts, including: Missy Elliot, 50 Cent, Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes, just to name a few. The Howard University graduate began her career by interning and eventually grinding up the ladder to manager as part of the infamous Violator Management team.
Always the hustler, Smith took on a side project in the early 2000s by managing hip-hop artist, Jim Jones—and she’s been alongside Jimmy ever since. In 2011, we were introduced to Smith as she joined the roster of “Love & Hip-Hop.” Black Men sat down with Yandi to discuss her ventures with Jim Jones, the happenings of “Love and Hip-Hop,” and her other projects.
Black Men: How did you meet Jim Jones?
Yandy Smith: I met Jim in 2004 on a private jet with Russell Simmons. We were ambassadors for the Hip-Hop Summit conference working on registering young adults to vote.
BM: How long have you managed him?
YS: Since 2005.
BM: Was he your only client?
YS: At the time I met Jim, I was working at Violator Management. Our clients
included Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Tweet, Capone ‘N’ Noreaga, Q-Tip and a host of others. On the side, I would sneak around, managing Jim. In December 2005, I officially left Violator and went to manage Jim full time.
BM: What was your most memorable experience being a talent manager?
YS: While “Love and Hip-Hop” [Season One] was filming, I was on a worldwide tour with Missy for three months. We traveled from St. Tropez, Australia, Singapore—to Casablanca, Africa—and many other countries in between. Another memorable time was being a part of the creation of Jim’s “Ballin’” record. From getting the beat from the producer, to watching Jim record in the studio, to delivering it to Koch/E1, and even though they didn’t think it was hit, Jim and I stuck to our guns and watched the record rise to number one on the Billboard charts.
BM: What controversy do you bring to “Love & Hip-Hop”?
YS: No controversy, I’m the friendly girl. I’m the girl everyone should love. Unfortunately, haters don’t, though.
Dwayne and then you saw me date Brian—that’s two.
BM: How did Dezmon sweep you off your feet?
RR: It was one of my best friend’s birthday parties, and she knows a lot of NFL players. They came by to say, “Happy Birthday” to her since they couldn’t stay for the party. I went to shut my door when they got there, because I didn’t even want to deal with any more athletes. We locked eyes, and ever since then it was like, done! We’ve been inseparable since.
BM: You mentioned earlier your books. I read about one in particular titled College Girls. Can you talk to us a little about the book?
RR: College Girls is based on my life and a couple of friends’ lives in college. It’s very real, very blunt and to the point. It’s not sugar coated. It touches on the subjects that most of the movies or books don’t tell. It’s the dark side. It’s the real side that I think I should’ve been more prepared for. I think it’s a good read for young girls who are going off to college. It talks about rape, it talks about STD scares, it talks about relationships, fights, fake friendships—it talks about everything. I’ve gotten nothing, but great reviews for it, and book two will be out next year.
BM: And you’re doing all of the writing for these books, right?
RR: Yes, I don’t have a ghostwriter. That’s something that people ask me, too, if I write my books. Yes I’m the one sitting behind the computer at night until five o’clock in the morning.
BM: What are some other projects that you have coming up that we should look out for?
RR: I have my dance company auditions coming up in the next month or so. If anyone wants information on auditions they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Outside of that I’m auditioning for Broadway plays. Being a mom first, of course. And oh gosh, what else? I’m just constantly moving. I can’t sit still; I get bored when I sit still.
BM: Tell us about the physical altercations on the show and what fueled them?
YS: We’re all women in the male dominated world of hip-hop, so we all have really strong personalities. The fact is that not everyone will get along perfectly, as you saw in the first season. So, when you watch the show you will see our relationships with each other play out in many different ways—good and bad.
BM: How did you play a part?
YS: I’m a positive person and very focused and passionate about my career and business ventures. You will see this when you watch the show. Like I said, I’m the friendly girl. However, one thing I don’t play with is my business and my career; that’s when I turn into the mean girl.
BM: Tell me about Everything Girls Love.
YS: Everything Girls Love is my new passion. I love things that sparkle and bling, and I wanted to create a line that was classy, outrageous, but affordable. I called up a few of my girlfriends I went to Howard with that are in the accessories business and we made it happen. Our jewelry line offers a unique collection of accessories from around the world. This upcoming year you can expect to see an EGL online magazine and lounge wear line.