The ladies of ABC’s newest show, Queens, joined their co-stars and creative leads to have an incredibly spirited conversation on all things female empowerment, the souls of their characters, and what it will mean to the masses.
Hosted by VIBE’s entertainment correspondent, Jazzie Belle, and in partnership with Billboard and ABC, the virtual premiere party gave a special group of viewers a sneak peek into the inner workings of the program’s setup and inspiration to storylines and themes. Now, the conversation is yours to enjoy as well. We had a little fun collaborating and creating a mock throwback cover that we envisioned the fictional group, “The Nasty Girls,” would have done for VIBE on our March 1999 issue (we’ve still got love for Master P and Silkk the Shocker, our real-life cover stars). The added surprise to this cover is the QR code that can be scanned so you can find out which “Nasty Girl” you are from the show. Take the quiz and learn about yourself and the ladies.
Having real-life Billboard chart-toppers in Grammy winners Eve and Brandy, NAACP Award winner Naturi Naughton, newcomer Nadine Velazquez and fresh faces Pepi Sonuga and Taylor Sele take the ’90s-themed drama, that fast-forwards to present-day, to new heights in primetime television. Guided by executive producers Zahir McGhee (of Shondaland’s Scandal writing team), Sabrina Wind (Desperate Housewives) and director, Tim Story (Barbershop), the storylines will be filled with twists and turns that are sure to test our patience and passion for Hip-Hop narratives led by women. The complex nature of an aged-out rap quartet trying to find its footing in the speed of light music industry can at times mirror real life, especially for Brandy and Eve. Yet, we learn in this talk that life imitating art has some limits.
Eve, Brandy, Naturi Naughton, and Nadine Velazquez spoke on the complexities of their characters, sisterhood, which women in hip-hop they drew inspiration from. “What all our characters represent is what many women go through,” Eve expressed. She plays the Brianna a.k.a. Professor Sex, a wife and mother of five trying to reignite the spark she once had as her renowned persona. Eve—being that rap legend in real life— revealed that despite her having several similarities to her onscreen character, she’s able to “be a lot more feminine,” more than normal. The First Lady of Ruff Ryders, along with Brandy and Naturi, pulled inspiration from MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and Lauryn Hill. Naturi even reflected on her portrayal of Lil Kim in the 2009 biopic, Notorious.
Naughton plays Jill a.k.a. Jill Da Thrill who is a raunchy yet uptight personality who’s struggling with her identity and sexuality. “I think she has so many complexities and is a [tall tell] sign of what hip-hop and the pressure of the business can do to you,” she explained. Velazquez chimed in, revealing that Valeria grew up in foster care and explains how she obtained a hustler’s mentality. Brandy shared that with her character, Naomi, she’s “a true artist,” but is trying to find a balance with her career and being a mother.
When discussing Queens overall, series co-creator, Zahir McGhee, stated, “From the start, there’s a lot of extra awesome things to the show, right? The music and the performances are huge, but at the core of it, it’s a show about friendship and second chances which are universal […] and what does your second life look like? Like reinventing yourself and everyone loves a reunion.”
VIBE: First, I’ll start things off [with] the Queens themselves: Eve, aka Professor Sex. Naturi Naughton, aka Jill Da Thrill. Nadine Velazquez, aka Butter Pecan. And the vocal Bible herself, Brandy, aka Xplicit Lyrics. Of course, the queens wouldn’t be complete without their newest TikTok famous member, Lil’ Muffin, played by Pepi Sonuga and manager to the stars, Eric “E-Roc” Jones, played by Taylor Sele.
And joining our star-studded cast are a pair of veteran producers, and the creative minds behind Queens, Zahir McGhee, and Sabrina Wind.
Naturi: I love that we’re all doing silent claps (everyone laughs).
VIBE: While watching the first episode, of course, one of the words that kept popping up in my head is sisterhood. So ladies, from your own words, if you can, what’s the meaning of sisterhood to you?
Naturi: The meaning of sisterhood. It’s so funny because I never got to have sisters, and these ladies are like the sisters that I didn’t get to grow up with. So it’s pretty special, really. It’s almost surreal, the organic chemistry, but sisterhood is, it’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s real, it’s got ups and downs. There are going to be moments when you fight with your sisters, but then, in the end, you’re the ones who pull them up and literally pick them up off the ground. That’s what these women have been to me through this process. And sisterhood in this show, I think, will represent what all women need to see that we are able to support each other when it’s good and when it’s bad. So sisterhood is being there for each other no matter what.
Brandy: I would add to that by saying loyalty, and again, just being there when you need that person to be there, and they’re there for you. I just think that’s so important in friendships and sisterhood and just in relationships in general, but loyalty is my thing.
Eve: I would say support as well when the good and the bad, and keeping you authentic. Even in the hardest moments, being able to keep you authentic. And loving even through the difficult. Love, support, and authenticity.
VIBE: Love that.
Nadine: I’d say it’s definitely a nurturing space where you’re safe enough to express the ever-changing emotions of being feminine and all of the things that come up within feminine energy, just a safe space though.
VIBE: I love that. Speaking of feminine energy, let’s talk women in Hip-Hop, because you ladies are killing it on this show. I wonder growing up, who was someone, a woman in Hip-Hop that inspired you guys or that you guys watched coming up?
Eve: For me, it goes back for me, like Salt N Pepa, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte. For me, they were those pretty tomboys, being able to hang with the dudes. And then through high school, it was Lil Kim and Foxy and Lauryn Hill. I am a super fan of female MCs.
Naturi: They just took all my people. I mean…(everyone laughs)
Brandy: It could be the same people.
Naturi: I mean, we really were in the same era [like] Brandy and Eve said. I grew up loving Lauryn Hill, Eve, definitely…I was more on the R&B side, but I definitely respected Lil Kim and winded up, years later, playing her, which is kind of crazy. My brother had a poster of the iconic bikini leg spread. And I was like, “Oh, you’re like obsessed.” He was obsessed with Lil’ Kim. So it’s a little weird that I played her. And he was like, “Little sis, this is a little uncomfortable for me.” But yes, those were some of my faves.
VIBE: I love that. What about you, Nadine?
Nadine: Well, I didn’t come up with Hip-Hop, so I don’t have a real big answer other than my female idol was Wonder Woman (everyone laughs).
Eve: Yo, if Wonder Woman could rap, that would be amazing. Wonder Woman is amazing. Wonder Woman is hard! Okay?
Naturi: Why are we giving out concepts right now? That’s a spinoff.
VIBE: Yes. Well, you know what, Pepi, Little Muffin, she’s such a colorful character. If you can, let me know. Where did you draw inspiration from when it comes to your character?
Pepi Sonuga: Oh my gosh, what do I not draw inspiration from with Muffin? She’s so everything, but I definitely channel a lot of Nicki [Minaj]. I love Doja Cat as well. I also love Left Eye [of TLC]. So, I think those three women are a huge influence on what I think Muffin is. But with the colors and the way that she is, I don’t think any one person acts that way. So, that’s with everything. That’s just…I love watching cartoons, I pulled from that a lot, music, colors, everything.
VIBE: Now, if you ladies can, please best describe your character and let us know what makes them so special.
Nadine: My character is a businesswoman. She knows the game, the hustle game. I think she had to learn that to survive. She grew up in the foster care system, so I had created a whole backstory about her upbringing and her introduction to music that connects me to this type of character and why she’s so driven. So, it’s like my own motivation for Valeria. And then what I think is so special about her is, and I think it’s written and a plan I’m trying to play it, is even though she has this ambitious part of herself and she is pretty self-centered in that way and she feels like a boss, she also has a vulnerability to her and she can acknowledge that these women were like family to her. And now she’s trying to make amends and make it right, but she still very much has all of those qualities that made her who she was. And I just liked playing those two colors, those opposites.
VIBE: Brandy, what about you? What makes your character so special? And let the people know about the character.
Brandy: Well, I would say [about] my character. I play Naomi, Xplicit Lyrics, and I would say what makes my character special is that she is a true artist. She’s a poet. She is also a singer. She can play the guitar, and the most special part for me is that she’s a mother and she’s trying to pull that together. She really feels like that’s the relationship that’s the most important to her. So, she’s trying to balance being in a group, coming back to this amazing group and then also being a mother because she wasn’t a very good mother. Coming up like in the ’90s, it was all about fame, it was all about getting that bag. But now, it’s about still pursuing her dreams, but also balancing it by being there and being the kind of example that she should be as a mother to her daughter.
VIBE: Naturi, let’s describe your character. Let us know what makes her so special.
Naturi: Jill Da Thrill, it’s literally written in the name. I’ll just talk about how does Zahir come up with these awesome names. My character, I mean, you’re just like, “She is thrilling.” She is probably a little bit more on the raunchy side in the ’90s. She’s in your face, hardcore all day, every day. But then Jill is this complete conservative, devout, clutching her pearls type woman. And she is also dealing with identity issues, her sexuality. The journey of Jill being married to a man in love with a woman coming out. It’s kind of interesting because I think she has so many complexities, along with her issues with substance abuse. I think my character just represents a telltale sign of what the business or what Hip-Hop and the pressure of the business can do to you. And also her religious background. So, I think the character is fun, but she’s probably dealing with some really deep-rooted issues to just be her true self. And I think a lot of people can connect to that.
VIBE: Eve, what about your character? Tell us about her.
Eve: I play Brianna AKA Professor Sex. She’s happy in her life. Brianna, she’s this mom of five who she loves and a wife. And she is trying to get back to Professor Sex, trying to find that fire again. She loved her life 20 years ago when she was Professor Sex, but she equally loves her life now. But I think along the way, she kind of lost some of herself, some of who she really was by kind of disappearing into her family and to her husband. And you catch her figuring out what that means for her and trying to get back.
And I think just like Naturi said with her character, having all these complexities, we all do, all of our storylines. And I think a lot of what all of our characters represent is what many women go through. And especially with me with Brianna, nine times out of ten, the woman is the one to say, “I’m going to give up this career and make sure the family is good.” And in a lot of ways you completely lose your identity of self. She’s trying to find that back and yeah, it’s been great playing her. I love her.
VIBE: [Eve] Let’s talk about the similarities versus the differences because you are an MC. You’ve been rocking the mic for years. Definitely in my top five. So if you can, because you talked about having the career in Hip-Hop 20 years ago, fast forward and becoming a mother and having that family lifestyle. Talk to me about the similarities between you and your character and the differences, because I see some differences by watching this show.
Eve: There’s definite differences, but I have to say, we do this all the time. There will be times we’re on set and we look at each other like, “y’all, this is spooky.” Because we come from that era, we live this time and we all love performing. It’s great when we do our big performances together and our videos, it really feels like that time.
With Brianna, it definitely, it probably took me like a week or two before I could really find Brianna the way I want it to, because I was like, I am married. I do have four beautiful bonus kids. I was out 20 something years ago and I’m a rapper. And I was like, “how do I figure this out?” And I’m lucky enough to be able to dip in and out of my home life, my performing life. So the one thing I love about this for me with Professor Sex though, is I’m able to be a lot more feminine in a way that, not that I wasn’t, but I obviously am showing a lot more skin than I probably would be comfortable just as Eve. Professor Sex has opened me up a little bit. I appreciate it. I really do appreciate playing these characters. I connect with Professor Sex and Brianna, but there are some differences, but the parallels are real. They are.
VIBE: Yes. What about you? Brandy, talk to me about the similarities versus the differences.
Brandy: The similarities. The singing, I love singing. Everybody knows that I love singing, but I don’t play guitar, which is a great thing to get to look like I played guitar, but I don’t. I love Hip-Hop. I’ve been a Hip-Hop head my whole, ever since I could remember. I just loved hip hop and I dibbled and dabbled in the rapping. And so similar there too, but I’m not as hard as Xplicit. She’s so hard. And she’s such the tomboy of the group and I’m not a tomboy. I’m a little bit more feminine. I don’t know, I just love this character. I just get to be boho chic as Naomi, and then this hard rapper in the group. And it’s just awesome.
VIBE: I want to elaborate more on the hardcore rapping because you had some experience being around…shout out to MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, the Queen.
Brandy: Yes, and Queen Latifah. And then also the mom, I’m a single mom, but I’m just a better mom than Naomi, that’s it (everyone laughs). I know how to balance it a bit little better.
Taylor Sele: Set the record straight.
Brandy: I had to!
VIBE: Now Taylor, I’m going to bring it over to you. Okay, because your character, E-Roc, honey. He’s giving very much…Diddy (everyone laughs)
Taylor: Take your time with it. (smiles)
VIBE: I’d say it’s giving Diddy with a hint of Stevie J, a hint of it.
Taylor: I definitely tap into the hustler of that lives in Diddy. That persona of “get it done however you can.” Not too familiar with Mr. Stevie J’s work and talents, but he has to find a way to exist with these supernovas and it forces me to confront what it means to be a man, what it means to have power. And oftentimes, people look at power as something, what you can do to people. But I think Eric will find his power through what he can do for these women, and that’ll allow him to find himself.
VIBE: Now, what did you draw inspiration from? I mean, I gave you my rundown, my assessment. I may be a little off, but you set up quite a spot on a little bit with Diddy.
Taylor: No, we have Diddy, we have people like Swizz Beatz. I came up listening to Hip-Hop, watching their style, their aura. I’m from New York, born in Liberia, but I grew up in LeFrak City, Queens. So, I grew up around Hip-Hop, Nore [of rap group CNN] was somebody I grew up with in LeFrak City. So Hip-Hop is in my blood and I appreciate it. And so it just drew from some of the people I’ve hung out around and the music I’ve listened to.
VIBE: One of the lines that, I believe it was Jill Da Thrill that said, “I see a lot of things hasn’t changed, you know, men shaping the careers of young impressionable girls,” which really struck a chord with me and I feel like it will with a lot of the viewers as well. What did you learn while filming this show about the music industry and the trials that women go through? That you hope that the men out there that’s looking to take on a managerial role, that could probably take heed to?
Taylor: Whether, not even just the manager, all the things that women have to balance even to get to the screen, to share their talents, to maintain their essence of who they are. Being mothers, being sisters, going through all the different issues, various issues that may not get the appropriate assistance they need in society. They still have to face that and get the job done while doing it in six-inch heels. So, women are incredible, absolutely incredible. I grew up knowing that. I have an incredible mother, beautiful sisters. And so Eric Jones, he’s a very fortunate human being. I’m a very fortunate, actor to be working with these incredible women.
VIBE: Oh, Taylor, I thought that was such a good answer. Zoom hug.
Taylor: Listen, he’s still a bad boy, though (everyone laughs).
Brandy: He’s got some issues with Valeria and…Don’t give him too much love, now y’all (everyone laughs again).
VIBE: And that’s where the comparison of Mr. J came from.
Eve: (Points) Right!
Taylor: I’ve only heard some things. I do not know anything about Mr. J, but I understand what you’re saying.
VIBE: It’s fine (laughs). And that does bring me to Zahir McGhee. With writing this show, what was most important for you? Because you’re writing this about so many dynamic women, this cast. So, what was most important for you that you had to focus on and telling these stories?
Zahir McGhee: Well, I think from the start, there’s a lot of extra awesome things to this show, right? Like, the music and the performances are huge. But at the core of it, it’s a show about friendship and second chances, which are universal, that goes across any gender. And I’m at a point in my life where I just had my second kid and I’m in my early forties, and what does your second life look like, right? Like reinventing yourself. And everyone loves a reunion. I don’t know why that stuff just makes me sad.
I use to not be able to watch the last episode of the Real World because I didn’t want to see people say goodbye, but I loved watching the reunion because you got to watch these people come back together. So, these were things I was thinking about from the beginning and going back to what you guys were just sort of talking about, in addition to what women have to deal with in the world. Black women have to deal with five, ten times more than that. In Hip-Hop, it’s such a young man’s game, and then the world is also sort of biased against women at a certain age.
So, it just felt natural to sort of deal with that in a more interesting way, more heightened way with women in the world of Hip-Hop. I came up in the Shondaland worlds where women won every scene, and they were fully formed characters. And so I didn’t work in writers’ rooms that had men in them like I was the only one. And I didn’t know anything that was different about that, and then I got out and I was like, “What’s going on out here? What are these dudes talking about?” It just didn’t make any sense to me. So, the notion of having women that weren’t fully realized, women of color on the screen. I’m just happy that with our partners, we were able to put women of color and particularly these women of color, and this many characters of color on-screen on a broadcast drama is really groundbreaking and awesome.
And to have their stories and not have the burden be on Brandy or Eve, to be the one mother to represent all black mothers. We can show different shades of it, we can show a generational thing in Hip-Hop with Pepi. We get to see what it looks like for a man in Hip-hop who had more, I would say, power or leeway or whatever we were doing back then. And see what that looks like, and how does that fit with the group now? And how did these people find their voice again?
I think as humans, we’re always trying to figure out, like what the next step is. What do we have to say? Are people so interested in what we have to say? And what does it mean? And rarely do you get an opportunity to express again who I am and what my identity is. And giving these characters played by these amazing actors, this opportunity to define what life can be at twenty, forty. And I don’t know, maybe we’ll be doing this when you guys are fifty on camera and see what that looks like.
Taylor: It’s like that… (everyone sighs in unison)
Zahir: No, that just means a long time!
VIBE: That means the beauty is long-lasting. That means there ain’t no cracking it.
Zahir: Well, that’s the part that’s a little bit annoying. I grew up, obviously, listening to these people, and then you’re like, “Yeah, but I look like, I look and they look like they haven’t aged one minute.” I love it, and I hate it (everyone laughs).
VIBE: Now Sabrina, with you being a veteran producer that you are now, you work on many projects that were led, that were women-based, I would say. What was it about Queens that made you say yes, I have to be a part of telling this story?
Sabrina Wind: Besides Zahir? Without question, it’s my favorite topic. It’s the kind of story that I have developed and worked on the most in my life. I love a female empowerment story. I love when we’ve chosen to use this forum that we have to show how hard and glorious and wonderful and challenging a woman’s story can be. From my own personal story, got divorced a while ago and literally changed my life. And that feeling of knowing that your story is never fully written until you decide when it was, it speaks to me beyond anything else. And so Zahir’s lines about these women who get a second chance. I was hooked.
VIBE: What would you say you’re most similar to, who is most relatable to you?
Sabrina: In my dreams, I get to be Naomi, but I am not. And so the one that I probably relate to the most, as a lot of women will be [is] Brianna. That challenges life like I have that I live, where I’m a mother and I have dreams and how do you combine all of those different aspects of your life together and not feel like you’ve lost your voice? Which to me is where we pick up Brianna’s story, at a moment when she’s lost her voice and she needs to find it again.
VIBE: Let’s bring it to Brianna, let’s bring it to Eve. Let’s bring it to Professor Sex real quick. Your debut album, Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, came out in 1999 and this is where the show was initially set in 1999. What do you remember about that time that you wanted to incorporate into the show and your character, Professor Sex?
Eve: It was fast, it was furious. It was an amazing movement in time within Hip-Hop, with the crews. Being the most protected woman on the planet at one point, cause I was always with fifty dudes. Shout out to Ruff Ryders all day, and also being able to be just the most incredible, the way that I felt I was able to live it. I felt this incredible force and I was able to live in that way. And I think that’s what I, and all of us, are trying to bring to Queens, to our music.
The music we have is so incredible. So, every time we get a song, we’re impressed more and more, and we’re able to bring that feeling of, we want to be hard. Back then, Hip-Hop was in your face and it was lyrical. I think this is what we are bringing to Queens. This is what I try to channel for that. But I do appreciate being able to put out music and not have it as just on me as Eve, and stress. So being able to hide behind Professor Sex, and still do dope records is the best thing.
VIBE: Well Brandy, why are you high-fivin’? (Laughs)
Brandy: (Laughs) Because it’s fun to play a singer. It’s fun play a rapper. To pretend to be, instead of the pressure of the charts and this and the deadlines and that, what comes with this industry. So, it’s just beautiful to be able to be a part of something so special that has music and how we all have been saying, just playing these complex characters. It’s just dope.
VIBE: When it comes to Xplicit Lyrics, I wonder, did you reach out to your [past musical] costars Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and Yo-Yo to help with your style and cadence?
Brandy: I didn’t reach out to them, but I am inspired by Nas and Jadakiss. Those are my inspirations for Xplicit Lyrics. I listen to them like all the time to just keep that tone and execute the way they do. I’m not as good as they are, but I try.
VIBE: Now, Nadine [with] you being the Latina on the show, I know you say you didn’t grow up listening to Hip-Hop. But what did you put into consideration about deciding on how to portray your character within Hip-Hop. Being a Latina, what was one of the things [where you were] like, “You know what, I’m going to bring this type of spice to it, just to represent my culture”?
Nadine: Right. What was already there was a lot of J. Lo vibes. Moving from the clothes to the hair, and that as the prototype, which is true, she was in the ’90s. She was the only Latina that I saw, who was moving around in those spaces. So, she’s not the only one, but she’s the one that stands out the most. I was watching a lot of her style in terms of how she felt free or comfortable on camera, not that I do that. I think I do that, but I don’t do that. And then just learning, listening to more songs or artists like Cardi B and I was listening to Lil Kim, too, and just getting my ear familiar with flow. It’s so funny to say that and because it is, right?
I have such an appreciation for rap now because it’s such a message of empowerment. You get to just say what you want to say in the most poetic way. And then you get to add this rhythm and the sound to it. And I was like, “I like that”…I feel like it’s getting better and better. It’s getting easier and easier and I’m having more fun. And I like to check in with Eve and Brandy and send the songs to get notes and get some ideas. And any time I’m with the three of them, they will all contribute to my swag and my swagger. If I say a word that doesn’t sound like the group would say it, I get corrected and then I add a little thing to it (everyone nods in agreement).
Zahir: If I could just add something, what’s crazy is you hear how Nadine will always tell us that she has no experience and has never done it. And if we didn’t know any of that now, and you just listened to the music, you would just be like, “This all works.” There’s something about everyone bringing their own special thing. And we know a little bit more about Eve and Naturi, and Brandy and what they do. But everyone’s doing something that’s a little bit different as they said. But when you listen to the track and Nadine comes on, you’re like, “Whoa, where did that come from?” It’s exactly what the character and how she entered into the story in the show, which people are going to find out in episode two, how it happened.
And then when you listen to the music, it all makes sense. Then you realize that no matter how the group came together, how this cast came together, it all happened the way that it was supposed to be because she brings something that no one else can bring to the table as well. And it’s really special. So, one day she’s going to start telling people that, and we’re just going to keep it flowing for twenty-five years.
Nadine: In Season One, but you’re right. It’s very flattering. It’s hard for me to own that when you guys have done this for a living, you know what I mean? That doesn’t feel right to me.
Eve: But it’s not about, you are owning it though. ‘Cause you’re doing it in your way and you’re killing it, like for real.
Brandy: It’s so authentic. It’s so good.
Nadine: Thank you. I will get there.
VIBE: That’s pretty big you get the snap of approval by some amazing vets up here.
Nadine: This is like a playground to learn. I was saying in an interview earlier with Randy…[motivational speaker] Tony Robbins always says, “If you want to learn from the very best, go to the masters, go to the ones that do it the best.” And this is where I was placed by, I feel like, by God to learn something that I needed to learn at this time in my life and this is the best playground.
VIBE: Well, I love that, Butter Pecan. Shout out to Zahir for naming her that. I’m such a Hip-Hop head (Zahir interjects with Raekwon’s song “Ice Cream!”) and I feel like you paid homage to Raekwon’s “Ice Cream.”
Nadine: Zahir, did you know that Puerto Ricans are called butter pecan? Like Puerto Rican…
Zahir: I grew up on a block, this is what I wanted to represent. I grew up on a block where I didn’t know there was any other Latin ethnicity other than Puerto Ricans. And so on my block, it’s like, “Okay, there’s Black people in this Puerto Rican people.” I thought we were all the same, so I thought. I really just wanted to represent Puerto Ricans, because that’s where I grew up and that’s so East Coast to me. I’m a Wu-Tang fan. So yes, I knew about butter pecan, that was the one name I just was like, “That has to be it.”
VIBE: [We] do have a few questions from the fans. Who is the funniest person on set?
Nadine: Naturi is very funny.
Eve: Naturi goes in. Yes.
Brandy: Taylor’s funny, too.
Taylor: I’m a sniper with it.
Naturi: Eye crossing challenge with Brandy and Eve. We can’t cross ours. I’m very silly. So maybe I am the funniest person because I just don’t care if I look silly. We can’t cross our eyes, so Brandy put us on Instagram, and was like, “Look at these fools.” And Eve was like frightened by me crossing my eyes. I won’t show you.
Eve: Now, you got to show them.
Naturi: Okay, here it goes. Is it crossing?
Eve: No, they’re still not. It’s not going to happen (everyone laughs).
Naturi: So anyway, we are very silly.
VIBE: Ok, so Naturi you win that, the funniest person award on set.
Nadine: From my perspective, they’re all very, very funny.
Eve: You, too! I think we have moments.
VIBE: What can people expect from the soundtrack?
Brandy: Rapping and singing, snapping and singing.
Eve: Yes, bangin’ records.
Naturi: We have features, so many people on it in character. We’re actually doing a Lil Muffins [track], she’s going to murder it. We have so many…is Cam’ron rapping on it?
Zahir: Cam’ron is. “Heat of Queens,” episode two. And if [can] I just want to add about the music, it’s all amazing. But one thing we’ve been able to do is, every song is a craft. It’s crafted out of the story. If you listen to the lyrics, you are advancing the story at that point, or we’re learning more about the characters, right? It’s amazing as the performances are. They don’t exist and they don’t have purpose, unless they are driving the story forward. So, we’re never going to put out a piece of music that isn’t reflective of where we are in our story and doesn’t somehow move forward in the story and the characters. And I think that’s what makes us take it from just hot songs to integral to our storytelling as well.
Brandy: It’s like the soundtrack to all of our lives.
VIBE: That just sparked a question. So with it being a soundtrack of back in the day, especially in the ’90s, Bad Boy, Dipset and Roc-A-Fella. You just brought up Cam’ron himself. And I know he stars on the show, [but] if you guys had to choose back in the day and I know Eve, [you’re] Ruff Ryders. But let’s say you weren’t (laughs)… if you had to choose one, what squad would you ladies be a part of? Bad Boy, Dipset or Roc-A-Fella?
Nadine: Whatever Eve’s on, I’ll be on.
Eve: That’s a good question. I don’t know, that’s hard. I would probably say, for me it would be between Bad Boy and Roc-A-Fella.
Naturi: I was thinking the exact same thing, but Bad Boy.
Eve: It’s hard to represent two different things because I’m both sides. Diddy is the glitz and glamor and Roc-A-Fella…so it will be between those two if I wasn’t Ruff Ryders for life (everyone laughs).
Naturi: Bad Boy, for me, for sure. I feel obligated. And it’s like, I live in Brooklyn, but I’m from Jersey…East Coast. I don’t know. It was between those two for me, too, but I would probably choose Bad Boy. Just so I could have Diddy in the video dancing with me. I just want that.
VIBE: Yes, and you did an amazing job playing [Lil] Kim, so it makes sense. Pepi, who would it be for you?
Pepi: I, honestly that’s the worst question to ask me, because I don’t know who was on. But I know Diddy, so I guess…(laughs) Bad Boy.
Naturi: Diddy would be your thing.
Pepi: Isn’t Roc-A-Fella, I feel like Jay-Z is Roc-A-Fella, right? I don’t know any female artists that were there. So, I don’t know if it’s too gangster. I got to be like a little, little cute. So maybe that—
Naturi: You would have been down with Roc-A-Fella, and I think you would have been great for both, too.
VIBE: Brandy, Nadine, who we got?
Brandy: I’ma go with Bad Boy.
Zahir: Dipset’s getting destroyed here (everyone interjects). Cam’ is…
Brandy & Eve: No shade to Dipset!
Eve: Yo, you know what it is. I love Dipset, not that the other two aren’t specific, but Harlem is a movement in its own way. And I feel like you got to be Harlem to be part of Dipset. It’s just different.
Naturi: Yes! That’s why I can’t do Dips. You can’t dip in the dip.
VIBE: Thank you so much, everyone. [Zahir] The last question would be, what do you hope people take away from the show?
Zahir: First and foremost, just what all of these people are bringing to the screen, which is their heart and their soul and their talent every single day. And the show is incredibly ambitious and hard and difficult to make. But then when you have the good fortune that I have right now to look at the pieces when they come together, it’s just sort of undeniably awesome and undeniably special. So, it would be that.
Then also, it’s been a rough year, a rough couple of years now and I want people to have a good time. I want them to feel good. I want them to identify with these women, which they will. I just want to throw a party every single week. The pilot is an effin’ party and episode two is that effing party also. And we’ll get deeper and more serious and learn more about these women. But that’s really all I want. I want people to connect with these women, which I know they will connect with Taylor, see Pepi’s absolute brilliance as this scene-stealing crazy character that she makes so grounded and awesome. And to have a good time. And I think that we’re pulling that off. So, I’m just excited for the world to see it. October 19th can’t come around soon enough. I think people are going to love it. They’re going to love seeing these women and love seeing Taylor’s sexy, sexy self (everyone laughs).