By Kandis Knight
“Ladies Keep Ya’ Legs Closed” -Switch
On a whim, I decided to catch a flight out of ATL for a little rest and relaxation. I was going to visit one of my favorite females in the music industry.
A few hours later, relaxing in a rooftop Jacuzzi in Manhattan, I decided it was time to formally interview the lady I am betting will be very big in 2008.
As she sipped her pricey Bordeaux from pricey crystal she was elegant like a swan, all while she carefully tucked her legs neatly under her body so she could sit erect, like a stalking lioness.
“It’s hard to not get distracted by the money, negative energy from people and remain prayerful, I am epic in character and with my music, I am the rose that grew from a rock,” she calmly explains, as she swirls her wine in rapid circles while gazing up at the stars.
Welcome to Switch’s world. She is called the “BK Empress” for a good reason.
In 2000, Nicole “Switch” Harding was a young ambitious female emcee hustling her way into the music industry in Brooklyn, NY.
“I went to high school with Inga Marchand a.k.a. Foxy Brown. I was real popular in High School, people know me. My first foot in the game was in 2000, in front of thousands I opened up for Foxy Brown, Capone, Nore and the Lox at the Audubon Theater (the historic theatre where Malcolm X was murdered) in NYC,” explains the 5’9” (no typo) exotic Amazonian beauty who is holding down a Modeling contract with T-Pain’s company DreamStar Talent in Atlanta, GA.
“I know I was scared to death like before that I never did open mics or showcases,” she explains in her thick BK accent.
“I was fresh outta’ BK and my first show was with DJ Kay Slay on the wheels. I felt like I had on cement boots, I actually froze up I can’t lie,” she lets her bun down and her long straight hair plunges to her chest, she glides across the water and up the ladder.
Later that evening, during Sushi at some swanky Uptown joint, Switch dawning a stunning Gucci gown under a fur coat tells more.
Her stage fright did not last long and she emerged to do what she was born to do. “I believe I was destined to meet Kay Slay that night. We are such good friends to this day, call it fate.”
Switch had no other choice but to shock and awe the crowd. “I totally transformed into this beast I was hyping the crowd and I got a great response. Kay Slay later told me, “I thought you were an R & B singer when you first walked out because you’re a pretty girl”, he liked the shock value I guess,” she laughs.
“After performing I handed him my demo as I passed it to him he said all I needed to know, “If I feel it I’ll call you right away if I don’t you will not hear from me deal?”
Switch was positive she would get a call back so she waited. Exactly eight hours later. Switch looked at her watch and picked up the phone Kay Slay was on the other end. “Yo you’re hot!” The following week, Switch’s freestyle premiered on Kay Slay’s mix tape.
“I screamed like Michael Jackson. I was jumping around acting crazy I’m sure when he reads this he is going to be surprised because I totally played it cool,” she laughs.
Kay Slay kept his word to Switch. “The first Kay Slay joint I was on was hosted by 50 Cent, I thought, bingo, I have officially made my introduction to the game. At the time 50 Cent was tearing up New York. Before Eminem and Dr. Dre tapped him on the shoulder.”
As we headed for the nightclub later that night, Switch told me how close she and Kay Slay had become through the years. Switch refers to him as her mentor. “Kay is one of the realest djs I’ve ever met. He has always showed me love and included me on things to network and meet different people. I will never forget one time he was like it is no problem putting you in the right circle but it’s up to you to network and build relationships on ya’ own.”
Switch seemed to have taken Kay’s advice because her Blackberry reads like a “who is who” of the entertainment industry from film, television, fashion to music, her networking skills are to be admired. I have met
Switch has also been featured in a few Kay Slay videos. “I’m actually in the Kay Slay video with Three 6 Mafia “Who Give A Fuck Where You From” I’m all through out that joint.”
As we jumped out of our limo to make an entrance at the club, Switch began listing off the mix cds she has been featured on as I tried to take notes in my Blackberry. Switch is a regular on many Kay Slay mix cds some were hosted by many notable emcees such as, Nas and Busta Rhymes.
Switch even had the honor of being on Kay Slay’s “The Drama Hour” on NYC’s Hot 97.
“Girl, I remember the competitive spirit was heavy the night of “The Drama Hour” taping,” she recalled as we strutted to our booth.
“It was so every chick for themselves but over all it was fun I met a ton of people and got respect from everyone was like “Yo Switch is hot she gotta’ keep it going.” I got to hit the booth with Remy Ma, Lady Luck, Amil, Glaze Ny, and DJ Lazy K and Funkmaster Flex. Many music industry heavy hitters were in the building. People got to see me shine that day.”
Since that day her star has shined brightly in the New York underground scene however she has struggled to complete a debut album until this year.
“It is very hard for a female to make it in the music industry, especially if you refuse to fuck your way to the top.”
Or maybe since she is so Petey Greene-ish her time is only now ripe?
“I feel like from day one up until this very minute I’m always misunderstood. People say “Oh she’s pretty she might be easy, oh she’s from Brownsville she’s a thug, oh she’s a female rapper so she’s hard to work with. These are just a few examples of things I go through on a daily basis on top of that, my business was so not right I was clueless to how the industry works, I didn’t have proper representation like I do now.”
Regardless of the obstacles she has had to encounter, Switch is expanding her stock daily. She has hosted two New York television shows, NYC Underground and Video City. She is also a radio personality for the Chris and Chris Show (produced by Hot 97 Executive Producers), by the way, you can also get your Switch fix and peep Switchy’s modeling skills featured in the new Straight Stunting Magazine and check out Switch’s You Tube channel, where you can watch as the pilot for her reality based-entertainment talk show Switch on The Scene which is being developed for a major network.
Just like the Notorious B.I.G., Switch was raised in a half Jamaican, half Brooklyn household so her swagger is 100% organic Switch promises to fill a void in the industry she may very well become the face of the lucrative Carribean hip-hop generation.
“Growing up my family was like the black Brady Bunch minus three kids we were raised on Bob Marley and Buju Banton. My parents are from Jamaica, but I was born in Brooklyn. Hello Brooklyn!” she shouts and pumps her fist in the air. “My city is birth place, without my city there would be no hip hop!” she taunts as she orders all the stuff on the appetizer menu, the waitress knows her by first name. “Anything else hot mama?” she asks Switch.
Switch replies, “A fucking Oscar and a Grammy!” We all laugh.
Like any true BK born hustle-ress Switchy is always quick to talk business. “Currently I’m working on my first official album due out May 2008 it is called MISS UNDERSTOOD I also have more mixtapes due out February 2008 and an EP done waiting for an angel investor, holla at me! I’m feeling like I’m in the best position of my life I have amazing people around me who are working with me to build this empire. I am going to work harder and smarter and not let things or people distract me like before. I am coming, consider me competition,” she slides out of her fur.
Switch is an emcee who also has great vocals and she sings. You can check out her versatility on her new album which will consist of fourteen tracks, and intro and some skits. “It’s going to be the story of my life. I do know for my first effort this album will change my life and allow the many layers of Switch to shine through as always.”
Miss Understood will also feature some Reggae anthems for the new music generation.
In the future Switch wants to work with everyone from Dr. Dre to Scott Storch. Currently she is working with producer Hassan Shareef who produced Boss Bitch (has also produced for Benzino, Ghostface Killah and Karl Thomas). “Actually I am going to link up with Chris Styles. Chris produced Amusement Park for 50 Cent,” she laughs then she turns smug.
“I hate the politics of the music business. The hesitancy people have when it comes to working with a female artist. I have had an A & R tell me that people are reluctant to work with female rappers because we cost to much to market and we don’t want to spend that kind of money but they will invest in dudes who they kind of know wont generate any sort of interest or R.O.I.”
Switch also takes a great interest in the hip-hop industry as a whole. “Right now hip-hop is in a messy state. Vets don’t want to usher in new artists. An old vet will be out for ten to twelve years and refuse to let go of the mic or to mentor others who look for that mentor type. I can tell the fame and fortune is a drug that some just can’t get off.”
On top of everything she does in the entertainment industry Switch is the quintessential business woman, did I forget to mention she is the CEO of her own record label called M.OB.A.N. Entertainment? Switch is also a sales manager for a finance magazine, a licensed Real Estate Agent, a licensed Phlebotomist and EKG Technician. She represents everything today’s black woman should be.
“I love to travel, cook, shop and invest in stocks and real estate when the time permits,” she perks up and looks at her watch. “I’ll be right back mami”.
As a man brings a mic over to our table, Switch stands to her feet. She didn’t even tell me she was performing. That says something, Switch’s is always going to shock us. I also must also add this is one lady who sure knows how to party. She jumps on the stage, the crowd cheers.
As the sun was rising over New York, our adventure was coming to an end. But not before we got back to her place to cook a little soul food breakfast.
Over turkey sausage, grits, scrambled organic eggs and Mimosas, we get to the heart of the matter. Switch switches to an early morning reflective mood after we do a few yoga vinyasas together.
“I have survived a lot more than the average female rapper running around these streets both personally and professionally and I can’t wait to make it official with the release of this album. I’m always about making music for the masses for all the misunderstood souls who can relate all around the world.”
Yes she is always thinking big.
For more information visit www.myspace.com/switchbk
Switch’s Music Industry Survival Tips
1. It’s important to find that life changing outlet who will believe in you and your product and make that major move whether it be cracking your single to radio or helping you to secure a recording contract.
2. Never ever mix business with pleasure. No one in this industry is your friend.
3. No one gives a fuck about you the person they only care about your product.
4. Be driven by the non believers. Closed doors should make you work harder. Not curl up in a little ball.
5. It is not what you earn it is what you save that counts.
6. Watch you’re the people you surround yourself with. You got to keep people around you who want you to win everyday separate yourself from the ones who don’t. Simple.
7. And for my ladies keep ya’ legs closed!