by Nadirah Simmons
A week ago we hosted our very first live Twitter chat with Yan Snead, a woman making major plays in the field. She is the Communications & Digital Strategy Manager at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, & Justice by day, Editor of Dinner Land Network and Digital Strategist for Chase N. Cashe’s brand “Can’t Buy Respect.” She’s a Jack of all trades with an indelible ear for music and she’ll definitely argue Dom Kennedy’s greatness to the death.
Throughout the conversation we talked about the importance of Hip-Hop culture, self-preservation in the often draining business that is entertainment and navigating male-dominated workspaces. The conversation was so good that we here at The Gumbo decided to share all of the gems in an article for everyone to read. Check out the gems below.
What did your introduction to the media industry look like?
Podcast About Nothing, 2015. To be honest I’ve been writing and blogging since tumblr came about, but I didn’t REALLY get into the mix until @JamarMDickson threw me into it. We used to interview artists, media personalities, and entrepreneurs within the music community it’s actually wild how far I’ve managed to get in three years. But what worked for me was being extremely personable, connecting with whoever no matter how popular or unpopular they were/are, & asserting myself. I never wait on opportunities, I just did & still do whatever speaks to me.
The media and entertainment industries are without a doubt boys clubs, much like many other fields. What are some challenges you face as a woman? How do you navigate male-dominated workspaces?
Two things actually. The biggest challenges I face are one, maneuvering through genuine interest in connecting and building versus “you poppin’, I’m going to act like your friend so you’ll promo my shit.” And two, dealing with male egos. I’ve come across a handful of men that are intimidated by my upward progression and attempt to block plays or take credit for my strategies. But as @OloriSWANK said, I could show you my hand and I’ll still win.
You described Hip-Hop as an umbrella under which music exists alongside language, fashion and more. How do you feel about its current state?
Hip-Hop influences everything. Black Culture is pop culture. As far as hip-hop music, it’s a LOT of quality shit out there. The cliché answer would be “it’s in shambles, we praising too much goofy shit,” but there’s a lot of quality artists and music in circulation. Hip hop is alive and well, and if you believe otherwise it’s a reflection of the goofy shit and wack music you personally entertain.
Having so many different jobs can take a toll on one’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. What do you do to practice self care?
You have to take time to feed your spirit. For me that looks like reading books, listening to podcasts, having conversations about life/business with good friends, sometimes it’s totally isolating myself because I NEED me time, and other times it’s surrounding myself with love.
Some people champion having a seat at the table. Others champion building their own. What do these two statements mean to you, and how have they influenced your career decisions?
When I first started out, honestly the only thing I was sweating was a seat at the table, but that was before I recognized my value and influence. Now I understand the value in knowing how to be a guest at a table & the importance in building your own. Need that balance.
I think our generation doesn’t pay enough attention to all the helping hands the greats received by being guests at someone’s table so that when they built their own it would be solid. You can’t do shit alone in any industry, ESPECIALLY not media/music. and what I’ll close that thought with, like I always say, while you’re at the table, you better be inspiring, teaching, plugging and giving back just like someone did for you to be able to sit there.
You can only take on project from this year into 2019. Which one are you picking and why?So we gon’ talk about the production quality, endless game dropping and replay value on Victory Lap or nah? Album of the year.
You get to executive produce an album and you’re choosing two rappers and producer. Who are you picking and why?
@Lowcollege and @DOPEITSDOM. I’ve always wanted to executive producing a Dom project, that’s my favorite rapper, real ones know. & Joe College the best thing out of Jersey.
As far as the producer, y’all know I was always choosing my right hand @ChaseNCashe. He laces everything.
Who are some women in Hip-Hop that you look up to and appreciate?
The women that I admire & appreciate are @vashtie, @erinasimon, @BreaSimone, @hinadirah, Ethiopia Habtemariam, @DJMissMilan, @jamisaaa, @BiancaEnRogue, @IvyLikeBlu, @theKYingredient, @TheKaiMiller, @viasimone_, @__KCarter__, man its a bunch of y’all.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Stop comparing yourself, they ain’t you and you don’t want to be them. You’re special and people will see it when they need to.