By Robb Leigh DavisS
Photography by Steven Vaschon
Dishy diva Wendy Williams brings the heat with
a summertime party CD and brings us up to speed with the latest R&B rumor and hip-hop heresay.
She calls herself “The Queen of All Media,” and considering her 20-year career includes a No.1 radio show in New York on WBLS, a television show on VH1 and several books on the New York Times bestseller list, it would be difficult for anyone to say Wendy Williams was anything less. The opinionated empress adds another feather to her fabulous cap with Wendy Williams Brings the Heat: Vol. 1, a CD compilation designed to showcase the emerging and overlooked talents in today’s world of hip-hop and R&B. The disc shows Williams’ ear to be just as formidable as her tongue and proves that, at the end of the day, there’s a lot more to the radio maven than her ability to dish the dirt on the Destiny’s Child breakup and the bubble of hype surrounding Mariah Carey. Don’t worry, though—we took it there, too…
Why this CD and why right now? It was important for me to get it out in time for summer, because you know how summer and good music go together! Overall, [the CD compiles] my wish list [of artists]: Amerie was obvious, Jadakisss is my favorite rapper of all time and, to me, M.O.P. is the top rap group ever—they can throw down with Kid Rock on a stage in Germany and keep the crowd moving in Brooklyn, yet they don’t sell like some other artists. But record sales do not equal greatness.
Speaking of record sales, do you think hip-hop is reaching the end of its reign? I think it’s going into a new phase. It’s tired to have a bunch of ice and a bunch of rims and not have actual assets like a great house, property and investments. It’s not enough that you’re on Cribs in a rented house!
With sampling running rampant, do you think originality is vanishing? Well, there’s a formula and record companies get nervous that you won’t sell the music to make the money. Artists are afraid that they need that formula, but look at my good friend Jill Scott.
That’s my girl! She went platinum! On the strength of one single! But you don’t go platinum based only on a single; they do it by elating to their audience and not trying to fit into a mold.
What’s your comment for people who view you as nothing more than a gossip? That’s a fair assessment. My foundation is radio, and the foundation of radio started out as a comment on pop culture—otherwise known as gossip. I’ve evolved, though. I’m a woman who has lived a bit and I do have opinions. I don’t necessarily consider myself a role model, but I do consider myself a strong representation of black women today—one of many.
Has being a mother altered the type of music you want your children to hear? Oh god, let me answer this correctly: No! But it has opened my ears to other types of music. I still listen to the same shit—everything from Cher to Madonna to the Dip Set to gutter hip-hop. I just listen to the clean version when [my son] is in the car.
Your fan base is pretty extensive—black, white, gay, straight, Latino. Why do you think that is? I don’t know. Sometimes I want to ask people, like when I’m in the store and see a white lady in her 50s—though she looks 40 ’cause that’s how we do now—and she’s with her kids and they all know who I am, sometimes I want to say: “Why do you listen?” I think it’s because I’m being myself—I never pretend to be from the block. I think my appeal is based in my honesty.
On that note, tell me the first thing that comes to mind about the following things: Michael. Guilty! Poorly tried case, but guilty. And I’ll be looking at him the same way I look at O.J. and Robert Blake.
Destiny Fulfilled. To be expected—but wait for the rest of the story, honey, ’cause there’s about to be fire!
Mariah. Love her! She embraces the 12-year-old inside and I can identify with that, but at the end of the day we’re both grown-ass women and we pay our bills on time!
Whitney. A mess—and I’m not even gonna ask what happened, ’cause I’ve been there already.
Lil’ Kim. Shit happens. But she’s got a chance to come back. She’s a hip-hop socialite and a fabulously sweet girl. She’ll find a way to be relevant when she gets out.
Lastly, what do you want this CD to do for people’s summer? When we sealed this deal. I made a firm decision that I was going to give something good to the people who are good enough to support me. I want this CD to be the party theme music when people are heading to the clubs, needing a pick-me-up or a way to calm down. I poured my heart and soul into this project and think it rounds out my being the Queen of All Media.
Self-proclaimed Queen! Well, I think there are people who would co-sign on that, but I’m not one to talk. I realize that my 15 minutes of fame was over, came back, was over and came back again. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m just grateful to be here, because at the end of the day it is all about the fans.
Wendy Williams Brings The Heat: Vol. 1 (Virgin Records) is in stores now.
Visit wendybringstheheat.com, don-divas.com, or thewendywilliamsexperience.com
(from NEXT Magazine July 1)