The founder of Atlanta’s Mizay Management, Debra Antney has shaped the careers of many of the hottest acts in hip hop, from Gucci Mane to Nicki Minaj, OJ Da Juiceman, producer Lex Luger, and her son Juaquin Malphurs, better known as Waka Flocka Flame. While Nicki has since moved on to other management, and Gucci also left the fold for a few months this year, last week the news broke that Gucci Mane was returning to Mizay. “That’s my nephew,” said Antney in a statement. “I love him. This is beyond the music game.”
But who is this woman behind so many stars of Southern rap? She's the kind of woman who bends but never breaks. Family and education rank high on Deb’s list of values. The oldest of nine children, she’s the mother of five boys and the three adopted girls. "There’s more—because if somebody was to read that in a sentence they would kill me," she says. "But legally I have three." Deb wanted to have 15 children, but never wanted to be married. “I used to watch the women in my family get beat,” she says. “And there was no way to me that that could be love. That just wasn’t love, you know? I’d watch them get beat but they still cooked and cleaned and took care of them and I just vowed I would not be that woman.”
Instead she worked her way through school while on welfare to become a certified acupuncturist, and also gaining various social work accreditations and becoming so accomplished that when she was looking for work in Georgia, a position had to be created for her. But she was also working behind the scenes in the music industry, first in Hollis, Queens; then later in Atlanta with the Ludacris foundation. (It's Ludacris' pronunciation of "Miss A" that lead to her company name.)
Deb Antney is a woman who has seen the good and the bad of life and the music industry and has given up on neither. She “busted her butt” to provide a good home for her children and she did it on her own. More than a strong woman, more than an accomplished businesswoman, she’s a survivor.
As part of his Waka Flocka Flame feature for VIBE’s December 2011 issue, Kris Ex spoke with Antney at her Georgia home. The conversation was so groundbreaking we couldn’t limit it to just a few quotes in the Waka pece. So here we present highlights from their epic conversation, a VIBE.com exclusive.
On Her Own Childhood:
My dad wasn’t that perfect man. He was an addict. At the age of 9 years old, I OD’d. There was no Bureau of Child Welfare to come to protect me. Me, playing with a mountain of heroin, thinking it was baby powder, it absorbed in my body. Those are stories that people don’t tell. Those are stories back then where there weren’t people there to save us. I remember sitting in the car with my father telling me to look out while he robbed a place that my moms was working. And I had to be the lookout. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. My father just told me to watch out, make sure the people ain’t come cause they had did something wrong and I had to look out. I remember going on 150th street strapped with deuces—you know, $2 bags of dope—around my body. I didn’t ask for this. There’s a lot of things I didn’t ask for but it was hand-delivered to me.
On Waka’s Intelligence; Perception vs Reality
Waka was a bright-ass kid. Bright as hell. Honors. The shit that get me about him is that he does this language shit that he do. He’s from New York. Yeah, he was here since a kid, but he’s different from all the rest of my kids. If you hear the way he talk [compared] to everybody else, you know they come from New York. But [Waka] adapted everything about the South; he really do know here better than he know up there. He was a bright-ass kid. And then he just went astray.
If Waka wasn’t doing this, he was supposed to be doing ball. He was being scouted for ball. He stopped playing ball, he stopped doing everything. And he became this freaking kid that was from hell. He just went left field, he didn’t care about nothing. Nothing. He didn’t care about nothing and nobody after that happened with my son. He became so angry it was pathetic. You don’t understand: I mean, teachers, principals, coaches—everybody was coming for him to try to get him. Waka was bright. School was everything to him.
Waka goes to the ER three times in one week:
When he was younger he fell so many times—in the emergency room three times in one week he had to get stitches. Always doing something, falling out the tree. I’m crying and screaming like, “Don’t stitch him!” and he just sitting there looking at me like I’m crazy, just taking it. It almost was like he was immune to getting stitches, like he enjoyed it. I was like, “This boy is crazy.” And they had called BCW [the Bureau of Child Welfare], like, “She needs to be investigated” because we was in the emergency room three times in one week. This kid getting stitches; He fell, “oh I cut myself up on the thing.” And me having that background [in social work] because that’s the work that I did, [I knew] that’s suspicious. Three times in one week, the kid coming in the emergency room getting stitches, the kid cut up, leg, hand, his shoulder. Then he ripped his shoulder open. Waka was always doing something and the crazy thing is he’s my Mini-Me. He’s a male version of me. It’s crazy. We bump heads a lot, ‘cause we are so much alike.