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The Best Of Rap & R&B #23

Queen Pen

Is she the lone link between rap music’s Golden Era of the mid-to-late ‘80s to its present day?

Among today’s newest bumper crop of female rappers to grace the industry in several years, 26-year-old Lynise Walters a.k.a Queen Pen stands out as the lone link between rap music’s Golden Era of the mid-to-late 80’s to it’s present day. The mother of two young sons (one of whom is the son of the late Darren „The Human Beat Box" Robinson, who was a memeber of the Fat Boys), Walters’ past experiences grwoing up in her native Brooklyn read like a rocky road of stardom. Amittedly boy-crazy during her teenage years, Walters began her career in the industry by writing songs at the tender age of fourteen. By age fifteen, however, Walters got pregnant and was immediatly sent packing by her mother, forcing her to fend for herself, by her won admission, „between doing everything short of selling my a-s."

But even with all of the drama that underscored her developmental years, Walters did not turn away from her writing and performing skills as she continued to work hard at fine-tuning her craft. „Despite my personal setbacks, I hadn’t given up on my career," explains the down-to-earth Walters. „Having said that, and without going into details about what I was doing or going through back then, I will say that the lyrics on my album will reflect some of my true street experiences, without glorifying any negative activities. See, I hope my brothers and sisters can identify with and learn from my mistakes. I want them to feel that with God’s help, if I can make it, they can, too."

Walters fine-tuning her skills would pay off handsomely in 1992 when she approached former Guy member and mega-producer Teddy Riley in an IHOP parking lot in 1992. During that time period, Riley was in process of developing his Future Records label and was working with Wreckx-N-Effect on their eventual hit Rump Shaker, when Walters caught his attentions. After hearing her pitch, Riley made her no promises but encouraged the young performer to send him a demo tape of her material. Upon listening to the tape, Riley liked what he heard and eventually came back to Walters with and offer around the same time that he formed the group BLACKstreet.

During the spring/summer months of 1995, Riley was working on BLACKstreet’s second album, Another Level, which included the hit singel No Diggity. But, Riley admitted, some element was missing from the mix. „We were looking for an unknown female rapper for No Diggity," recalls Riley in an interview with Vibe Magazine in 1997. „I told Queen if she did Diggity, I’D give her a record deal - so here she is: my little hoodlum." Walters eventually made her inpressive debut on No Diggity in a minute and a half stretch of the record which inpressed Riley to where she evetnually got her deal and went right to work on her debut LP, My Melody.

Working on the album with Riley, however, was no day at the beach for Walters as her life changed dramatically after No Diggity was released. Suddenly, there were tour dates and television appearances as well as her own album to record, which made for some frayed nerves amid the spartan conditioning that she had to undergo in preparation for the entertainment lifestyle. „Teddy was in teh studio working on my album all the time," she recalls. „Sometimes, he wouldn’t sleep more than three hours a day; I would sleep in my car out in the parking lot. It was [really] hectic."

„Working with Teddy is so mething that I’ve looked forward to for a while," she continues. „He is a man of his word. He promised me that one day we’d work together. When he came through I wasn’t surprised, but I was pleased and excited."

Walters’ success on No Diggity opened other doors for her as well. When the buzz over her cameo appearance reached a crescendo among music listeners in and around the industry’s inner circle, Gerald Levert was so taken by the young rapper’s talent that he hand-picked her to rap on Levert’s hit single True Dat. Other appearances, including some memorable performances with BLACKstreet on New Edition 1996-97 Home Again tour, the Soul Train Music Awards, Showtime At The Apollo and MTV’s popular Spring Break ‘97 televsion special, introduced Walters and her lyrical talents to both urban and mainstream music audiences across the country.

Despite all of the fanfare over her arrival as an artist, Walters rmains grounded, citing that remaining a positive role model for her children and her community is her number one priority. „I accept that responsibility [of beeing a role model]since I feel it comes with the parent and celebrity territories," says Walters, pointing directly to her mother’s supportiveness voer the years despite their differences. „We may have had problems when I was growing up [as rebellious teenager], but wer’re very close now. My mother and my son’s unconditional love, along my faith in the Creator, helps me face challenges and chase my dreams."<

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