Angela Yee, host of Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club,” has become one of the media’s best-known multi-hyphenates. A businesswoman who founded her own “Lip Service” podcast, Yee spent much of the fall of 2019 on the road, teaming up with Live Nation for “Lip Service Live.” The tour featured guests in every major city who came on to discuss such topics as sex and relationships.
No stranger to doling out advice, through her role as co-host of a nationally syndicated morning show — alongside DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God — the Brooklyn native began to notice a void in women’s voices on terrestrial radio, particularly when it came to talking about their sexuality. Incorporating her own experiences, “Lip Service” became a safe, non-judgmental space for both men and women to speak up about their bedroom preferences, learn some tricks and above all else, have a good time.
Yee’s influence in booking some of the hottest names in music and entertainment stems from her two-decade-long career in the industry. She got her start interning for the Wu-Tang Clan which later led to a role in helping manage the group. That cred helped her land DaBaby for an episode of “Lip Service,” its most-watched clip to date, with more than 1.5 million views on YouTube. Other “Lip Service” guests have included 50 Cent, Megan Thee Stallion, John Legend and Kevin Gates with his wife, Dreka.
Variety caught up with Yee in Los Angeles last month.
What was the genesis of “Lip Service”?
“Lip Service” was initially a segment. It was so popular that Sirius wanted to make it its own show. We were bringing artists on, like Remy Ma, whose dog peed on the floor, and a lot of video vixens and models. Remember XXL [Magazine] had Eye Candy? Guys loved to look at these girls but nobody knew what their personality was like. It was a great platform for that. It was fun, we talked a lot about sex. We had this one segment called “Pillow Talk” where people called in to have phone sex with a guest. It was so funny, they’d be so excited. Where else can you have phone sex with your favorite video model? Nobody took it seriously, it was just a fun time.
Did you have a vision for the show?
A place that would be empowering for women — to be sexual and to talk about sex, and for guys to come in. Usually guys come in for an interview and the women are the ones that are more uncomfortable — especially in the hip-hop world. When I first started at Sirius, I was the only woman on the whole station. So it’s more of the women taking control and the men feeling more comfortable to express themselves. They let their guard down more when women ask them questions.
Whose idea was it to partner with Live Nation?
My management, Kevin Parker and Brian Dobbins. We had done some live shows that did really well in New York, so they came to me and said that Live Nation was trying to do more podcast tours.
What’s the process of picking special guests?
It’s interesting. I want to make sure we have people represent their cities. It’s good for me to go to these different regions and see what’s poppin’ out there that I might not know about otherwise. And for local artists, it’s exciting for them. It’s dope, you get to be on “Lip Service.” It’s a show that a lot of people watch.
What are the economics of putting on a live show?
What was difficult for me: Live Nation charging a lot for tickets. I don’t like that. I don’t want it to be something that’s too pricey. When we did them in New York, it wasn’t expensive. This was our first time doing this type of run so it’s a learning curve for me too. … Moving forward, I don’t want it to be seated like a lecture. I want there to be tables where people can get bottles and have food. It’s a very interactive experience: people are talking back to us, we’re talking to them. I want it to be more casual and lounge-like. I want to set it up as a shorter show that turns into a party.
It’s dope that you care.
Please. I’d much rather we get paid less. Next time, maybe we have a sponsorship situation. A lot of people would want to be involved. I was talking to Tampax and to condom companies. In my dream world: Megan Thee Stallion’s album comes out in 2020 and we do a Lip Service Live with Meg in Houston, Atlanta and New York. That could be really fun.
Why is it important for you to have a platform for women to speak up? Because women get judged. The things a guy will do or say, if a woman says it or does it, it’s a whole different type of judgement. Women are also very harsh in how we speak about each other. It’s bad enough we have men judging us, we shouldn’t have to do that with each other. I want women to be educated. We have so many inhibitions in the bedroom. We have so many people telling us, “this is taboo” or “this is wrong. You shouldn’t do this! You’re disgusting.” Whatever you decide you want to do, as long as you’re in agreement, then go for it.
Did you ever have a #MeToo experience?
Definitely. I can’t imagine that any woman in this business hasn’t. It was a long time ago and I didn’t really know how to handle it. That’s why I’m very sympathetic when women talk about things that happened in the past that they didn’t feel empowered to speak about. People would be, like, “Oh, this happened 10 years ago and you didn’t say anything; why are you saying it now?” Because I didn’t feel like I could.
I was in a position where my boss flat-out said, “I think you should sleep with me.” I was horrified. I didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t quit at that time. I was young — only 22 — and you’re thinking “I have bills to pay; Am I not going to be able to work in this business anymore?” My boss didn’t come to work for three days after that, because I said “I would never do that if you were the last person on this planet.” Then he had his partner fire me. [Laughs] “Yeah, we’re going to lay you off.” They gave me two weeks severance pay.
I did get my revenge in a way. They had a car service account, and I gave some of the Wu Tang guys the account information. They were taking cars to the Poconos, going to the grocery store, taking the cars around the corner. For a whole month, they ran that bill up crazy. … That made me feel good. I’m not into revenge anymore, I just let go and let God.
What was it like working for Wu-Tang?
That was my first real job and all my friends were so jealous. It was really fun. Those guys are great. You would think that might be the sort of place where a young girl would have problems, but working there was an amazing experience because they looked out for me. I was their little sister, they wouldn’t let anyone talk to me crazy.
What are your favorite podcasts?
I like Whoreible Decisions. They’re really funny. I listen to Envy’s The Casey Crew, which is funny to be at work and hear his wife checking him all the time. [Laughs] I like Chelsea Handler. She did “Lip Service” also which was amazing. They reached out to me! I was, like, “Get the f– out of here!” We’re supposed to do drugs together one day. Ayahuasca, not cocaine. I don’t care how much I like you, I’m not going to try cocaine.
How are you and Charlamagne now?
We’ve always been the same. We work together, it is what it is. Like he said, we’re co-workers. A lot of people have jobs where they don’t necessarily love the people they work with, it’s just a part of life. That’s not the person you’d hang out with in real life…
Have you guys had tension like this in the past?
Yeah, there’s been a lot of experiences. The important thing is I’ve always been a responsible person. As a woman, too, you have to be a lot stronger. Things are always happening that if you let it bother you, you’ll be mad all the time. It’s hard not to [take things personally]. It sucks because sometimes you feel so numb. You used to get so upset over things and feel so much, after a while shit keeps happening, you’re just numb to it now. … Also, if we got along all the time, it probably wouldn’t be as interesting. The way that I am: there’s certain things that I don’t agree with and I’m just never been the type of person… I was taught in radio: if somebody is talking, then you don’t talk over them. Sometime, it’s hard to even speak. Sometimes being the only woman on the show, I have to always try to cut in. … Because I’m also the person who’s doing the research; watching the shows; reading the books. I’m always trying to get validity and points across. There’s not enough room for me to do that and express my feelings, you have to figure one or the other. When we do Rumor Report, I have the stories. When we do Front Page News, I’m presenting the stories. They’re jumping in with their opinions, but somebody has to present the stories. It doesn’t leave as much space for you to say “Ok, here’s what I think.” I express myself a lot more outside of that show.