You might already have an opinion on Yandy Smith, a new addition on the second season of VH1′s Love & Hip Hop. You might think she’s ‘messy’ or even that she’s the ‘Don King’ of the show. But you might be completely wrong.
We chatted with Yandy by phone and got to the bottom of some of the speculation on her TV reputation as an instigator, how she really feels about her cast mates and if her boyfriend really beat up Jim Jones.
With a few episodes left to go, the jury’s still out on a few things, but what we found was a woman who knows who she is and who she is not.
Yandy, you came out the Violator Management camp. Exactly how long have you been in the industry?
I got an internship with Violator in 2004, right out of college at Howard. Then I turned that into a position there.
When and where did you meet Jim Jones?
I met Jim in 2005 on a private jet chartered by Russell Simmons. They were flying us to Detroit for the Hip Hop summit to register young voters and Jim and I sat next to one another. He kept telling me that he managed this group The Diplomats and I told him to hit me up if he needed any help. He started calling me every day and eventually I was like ‘You’re going to have to pay me for this.” So I became his official manager and left Violator in 2005.
On the show you’re definitely portrayed as a woman about her business. Were you always that way? Or was there a situation that brought that out of you?
You know what, when I went to Howard, I got a scholarship the first two years. But my mother made me pay for the last two years. So that really taught me to be about my business. Yeah, being social was great and I did that too but I definitely learned quickly that I had to handle mine. And when school was over, I brought that same mindset to Violator Management. I knew I had to hurry up and find a job so I could pay back my student loans. So I came in on my business.
How do you determine whom you take on as a client?
You know what, management is a life thing. It’s not a 9-5 thing. I’ve had Missy, Busta, whomever calling me in the middle of the night and you have to be there to be on your job. So when I look at a potential client I look for two things. First, they have to have something and it’s not always just talent. You might not think Jim is the best rapper but he’s got this hustler’s spirit that makes you want to work with him. So it’s not always about the most talented because (and this is second), I have to believe in you. If you’ve got this hustler’s drive where you’re constantly looking for a way to make money, that’s something I can believe in and if I believe in you, I’ll go hard for you.
So on the show you made the statement that at the end of the day, for you it’s about making money…
See that was only part of the statement. What they didn’t show you was that I also said how much I love Jim. See a lot of that is changed in editing or manipulated by producers.
Let’s talk about that. Are you happy with the way you’ve been represented?
(Groans) See, here’s the thing: most people don’t realize how this really works. If the producers contact me and say there’s a woman named Erica Mena interested in meeting with me about management, I don’t know what an Erica Mena is. But I took the meeting and all the sudden its made to look like I’m starting something. Or if Emily invites me along with the rest of the girls to her party, I don’t know what type of party it is until I get there. And really I didn’t come with Kimbella. The camera just shows us walking up to the house together, so now it looks like I’ve brought Kimbella and I didn’t.
Did you know about the Kimbella’s history with Fab before that night?
No. When she told me on the show, is when I found out. And I told her, ‘you better tell Emily, especially if you’re trying to be cool, tell her before she finds out and tells you.’ But I didn’t know she would say something right there. But then all of the sudden, I’m painted to look like this instigator and I’m really not.
So have you been portrayed wrong?
Listen, you can’t edit something that you do. I am who I am on the show with one exception: I really don’t have any drama in my life. I’m not around grown women fighting and all of that. That doesn’t happen in my normal life. A lot of that is manipulated because it makes sense in the storyline.
Would you consider your cast mates friends in real life?
No. I’m friends with Kimbella. She is genuinely my friend. I like Somaya. I like Olivia. I knew Olivia from my Violator days. I wasn’t on her day to day team but we got to know each other better after that.
What about Chrissy?
I never had a reason to be close with Chrissy. Before the show I really only had a relationship with Chrissy through Jim. If we were going somewhere and Jim was like ‘I’m bringing Chrissy’ then I was like cool. But we never hung out or had dinner at each others houses. I have that relationship with Juelz and Kim. I’m the God mother of their child.
So you’ve finished filming and I know you’ve got a big episode coming up and you can’t tell us too much. So let me ask you this, are you at peace with how the situation ended with you and Jim?
I’m at peace. Absolutely. You know what? The show brought a lot of things to light. I’m quick to brother out somebody. I’m super quick to call a dude my brother – and part of that comes from being a woman in this industry. Calling someone my brother lets other people know there’s nothing going on and it sends a message to that dude that there’s a line he shouldn’t cross with me. But Jim? Jim was deeper than my brother. In a lot of ways I think of Jim as my first born. He really was my very first project. We were broke together and then got reach together.
So where is that relationship now?
I will always love Mama Jones. Mama Jones and I used to talk for hours about all sorts of things – not just Jim – so I will always have a relationship with her.
What about Jim?
I’ll just say this: Jim will always be a very important factor in my career history. Like I said, he was there in the beginning, so my appreciation for that will always be there.
You said the show brought some things to light, do you regret doing it?
See, I’m on the fence about that. Every time I meet a young girl and she tells me how much they admire me for being a strong black woman about my business, I’m super grateful for the opportunity to show that to them. I built myself up, without having to be someone’s wife or girlfriend. So that’s when I’m glad I did the show. But then when I see the comments about how I’m always starting something, I realize a lot of people don’t get it. They think all of it is real. And then that’s what makes me think twice about my participation.
So if they asked you back for Season 3, would you do it?
I don’t know at this point. Honestly. The people that can really affect my bottom line, know what it is. But the other people that see the show and call me the Don King of the show, they think ‘oh Yandy’s messy.’ I don’t know if there’s anywhere else for me to go on the show. And I don’t need my own show. America likes to watch a train wreck. Chrissy could have her own show. But I’m not a train wreck. So I don’t know.
There was a rumor that your boyfriend beat Jim up?
Who said I have a boyfriend?
I’ve done my homework.
Well depending on where you did your homework, you might’ve gotten that I’m a lesbian, or that I’m involved with a married man who paid for my college degree…So I’m just wondering.
Do you have a boyfriend?
(Laughs) Yes, I have a boo.
Did he beat up Jim Jones?
I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I heard Jim say it was a botched robbery in Harlem.
Did your boyfriend attempt to rob Jim Jones, in Harlem?
No. My boyfriend definitely doesn’t need to rob anyone.