Interview: Lyrasis (Minneapolis)
by Kandis Knight
Depending upon how diverse your Hip-Hop taste is, or how long you’ve been kicking it around the local Hip-Hop scene, you may remember two local females going by the name of Lyrasis and Link (collectively called Double L) from back in the day. I recently caught up with Lyricist a.k.a. Tracie Barber, who is now solo and poised to drop her new album (currently untitled) sometime this year. We discussed her former career as the first lady of Clientele Records (formerly home to Lil’ Buddy) and the new direction her career is taking as she prepares for her “come-back.”
Kandis: Where were you born?
Lyrasis: I grew up on the southside of Chicago.
Kandis: When did you start rhyming?
Lyrasis: I was out when Salt ‘n’ Peppa were out.
Kandis: That’s all you ever need to say! Nuff said. Who are some of your music industry influences?
Lyrasis: I would say Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah. Because they’re not just artists, they branched out into other areas of the Hip-Hop business. They’re multitalented. I would want to follow their path into acting and producing. I co-produced some of the music on my new album.
Kandis: Did you go to college?
Lyrasis: Yes, I went to business school in Chicago. I got a two-year certificate. Kandis: Tell readers about your career, the highs and lows.
Lyrasis: I’ve pretty much done it all [in the Twin Cities Hip-Hop scene]. I’ve opened up for Jay Z, MJG, Twista, All For One, Jodeci. On the high end of my career, I can say I have done a lot of performing here and I have learned how to work the crowd. On the low end, I was signed to Clientele Records and some things went on and I was released from my contract.
Kandis: How long were you with Clientele?
Lyrasis: For two years and we were released from the label about two years ago due to the difficulties. Our album was next in line to drop. [Unfortunately], it was never released.
Kandis: You mean the Lil’ Buddy situation?
Lyrasis: Yes, but it was still a good experience. We got to shoot a video in New York that actually was playing on BET. It was a very good experience I didn’t know it took that long to shoot a video. It took almost like 24 hours [of shooting to complete]. By the time it came on BET I was like, “I don’t even want to see it.”
Kandis: So what’s up with Link?
Lyrasis: She’s still my girl but she decided Minnesota was not for her and she moved off to Detroit and St. Louis. She’s also getting back into the studio. Hopefully we might do a reunion project.
Kandis: Even though you’ve been doing your thing for a long time locally this forthcoming album is your debut solo album, right?
Lyrasis: Yes. I was on the Vibe Compilation and we recorded with Sounds of Blackness in 1999. We had singles out getting air play on the radio, our debut project, however, was never released because of the trouble at the label. So I’m starting fresh, new material, new team, new producers. I went through a lot but everything made me a stronger individual.
Kandis: What are your goals?
Lyrasis: Everyone says you can’t blow up or make it out of Minnesota. A lot of people try to establish themselves here and then they move out of town thinking that they can do better elsewhere. I want to prove them wrong by getting organizations to work together and look out for local artists. There is a lot of talent here. All the artists need is a solid platform. I have a strong relationship with KMOJ and B96 and I think they really have a forum to get local music some exposure.
Kandis: Why do you feel it’s so difficult for females to make it in Hip-Hop?
Lyrasis: I think a lot of it has to do with males not seeing females as being “hard” enough. There are some females that come hard, but it’s hard for females to get on because men run most of the labels. Big ups to Queen Latifah. It’s a male dominated industry, all the guys are putting their buddies from college and high school on. It’s hard for a female to get heard.
Kandis: Describe your style?
Lyrasis: I don’t put myself into any categories, however, people say I fall somewhere in the Eve and Foxxy Brown category. Kandis: That’s a dang good category to be in. (laughs).
Lyrasis: I love them both, Foxxy please come back.
Kandis: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Lyrasis: I love Kanye West and we’re from the same hometown. Also Twista, I know him personally.
Kandis: Didn’t Twista used to hang out in Minnesota in addition to doing shows here before he blew up?
Lyrasis: Yes. He’s also doing some work with Crucial Conflict—they would all come back and forth up here doing work. I met Twista when we opened up for him about two years back before he signed to Rocafella. I used to see him at The Regal in Chicago when he would perform there.
Kandis: What label are you on now?
Lyrasis: There are a couple deals on the table. Nothing is finalized but everyone will hear about it.
Kandis: Which producers are you working with?
Lyrasis: I’m working with Flinch Productions and we have a clique called Ill Saga.
Kandis: How many tracks will be on your new album?
Lyrasis: We have eight tracks done and we are shooting for 14.Kandis: What’s your favorite track so far?
Lyrasis: It’s a track called “Kitty Kat.” It’s a feisty little song.Kandis: Meeeeoooowwww. (laughs). I guess that’s the proper ending to an interview with one of The Twin Cities more established female emcees.