Blue Raspberry: Breaking Free

For over a decade, Blue Raspberry, the soulful songstress and female presence behind some of Wu-Tang’s most classic songs found herself in an almost cliché state as an artist. She had worked with one of Hip-Hop’s most well-known groups yet she was unable to attain the credit she was due. She appeared on platinum albums […]

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For over a decade, Blue Raspberry, the soulful songstress and female presence behind some of Wu-Tang’s most classic songs found herself in an almost cliché state as an artist. She had worked with one of Hip-Hop’s most well-known groups yet she was unable to attain the credit she was due. She appeared on platinum albums and somehow found herself struggling financially. Due in part to her tremendous vigor, Blue Raspberry did not let struggle taint her soul and in 2005 she finally broke free with her debut solo album Out Of The Blue. The independently released album received plenty of reviews praising Blue’s soulful sound.

As part of Women’s History Month Blue Raspberry discusses Wu-Tang, her latest album, and what was held her back for all these years. How exactly did you receive the name Blue Raspberry?

Blue Raspberry: To tell you the truth I never really liked the name that much. [Laughs] Really?

Blue Raspberry: Yeah, I never really liked it that much. A long time ago, we was outside of Chung King [Studios]. It was me, RZA and Killah Priest and RZA was like, “We gotta come up with a name. Priest, what you think?” He said, “Hmm, I think Blue Raspberry.” And they ran with it. They ran with it and I just said, “Okay.” So you would never change it?

Blue Raspberry: As of right now, I may not because that’s what people know me as. That’s what I was introduced to the industry as. I do have a second name, but I’m not gonna reveal that one yet. For a while you were affiliated with Wu-Tang and you were involved with several project’s with them. How did that relationship with them come about?

Blue Raspberry: Well I was working in Atlantic City at Bally’s, and we had what they call the Impact Convention, a rap convention, and I was just getting off of work and me and my cousin we was just walking across the casino floor and there was a song by Patti Labelle “Somebody Loves You” it was playing on the intercom. And I was singing and I was just walking past. I was on the casino floor, I didn’t even know who was out there or whatever and then I saw these guys they had these bandanas on sitting up against the wall.

It was Ghost, [Raekwon], RZA, and I think it was U-God. U-God was standing there. And they say, “Wait a minute!” Rae was like, “Can you do that again?” And I looked at ‘em like, “Huh?” My cousin Rhonda she said, “Go ‘head, will you go ahead and do it, you don’t know any of them.” So I sang and from then on we just chilled with each other. I mean we just became the best of friends. [We] stayed in contact with each other and they told me, RZA said that, “Okay we’re Wu-Tang Clan,” and they didn’t say if we blow up, they said when we blow up that we want you to come on board with us and we want you to get in the studio and things like that. So I was like okay. I was young, I was like, “Okay, great yeah.” They kept their word.

Me and Ghost we stayed in contact a lot. Rae would come down to Jersey and come and get me and take me back up there to the studio. Sometimes it’d be him and Remedy. RZA finally called and said, “You ready?” I said, “Yeah,” so when I first went in the first song that I did was “Heaven and Hell.” So, went in, we did that and he told me that that was coming out on the Fresh Soundtrack. “Heaven and Hell” was done way before “Rainy Dayz” or anything like that. Then came “Rainy Dayz” when I went back to the studio with them. Has it helped your career for the most part, being affiliated with them?

Blue Raspberry: Yea, it has. It really has. ’Cause I don’t think any of us had expected a blow up like it did in the industry. It really did help my career a whole lot. In what ways?

Blue Raspberry: As far as me being with them and the songs that I’ve been on was on platinum albums and the fact that when they remember these songs they basically remember my hooks. And you know, when they look at the credits, they see Blue Raspberry. Wu-Tang, it had such a big impact on the industry and for me to have came out with them, it was an honor for me. Were there any downfalls to working with them?

Blue Raspberry: Well, I think not only me, but I think a lot of people have went through that stage where they were really young, they got into situations with their music not knowing about the records and patience they should have had and things like that instead of going off of, “Oh, we family, we family, we family”, but when that money comes in family don’t matter. You started working with Wu-Tang in ‘94, but you’re album Out Of The Blue didn’t come out until 2005. Can you kind of explain what that delay was all about?

Blue Raspberry: Well I was supposed to have an album come out called Blunted Soul that RZA was telling people to look for. I just caught myself self still going into the studio doing hooks and things like that. It got to the point where I would say I needed money, but I would wait ‘til my bills got piled up so heavily and then all of a sudden you know he’ll send me 2,500 [dollars] here, 2,500 there. One time he sent me 10,000, that was just once. That was between the years of ‘94 and ‘98 or ‘99.

Most of the time, I still was working. I had a job in Atlantic City and every time I had to go up to the studio and things like that, I would basically be unemployed [laughs] by the time I came back. After that, I got with Mark Kleiner that used to work with BMI and he got me on to Scott F###### that really looked over the contract I had and he had legally gotten me out of my contract. That was about ‘99 maybe and what happened was after that I left in 2000 and moved down to Virginia just to get my head straight. I had stopped singing for a while. I really didn’t start back singing full force till about almost 2005. I started knocking songs out and decided, “Hey, why don’t I just throw a CD out.” So I did talk to G Clef from Chamber Muzik and put a CD out called Out Of The Blue and it really did well. I got a lot of good reviews from it. I mean I remember one reviewer that listened to my album said, “History is about to repeat itself 10 years later.” So that’s basically what happened between those times. I was struggling. Even though I’m on platinum albums and things like that I still was struggling really bad. What are some of the albums you’ve appeared on?

Blue Raspberry: There’s Method Man’s Tical album. Only Built For Cuban Linx, the Gravediggaz the remix to “1-800-Suicide,” [on] their second album, “What’s Going On.” I did Cappadonna’s album The Pillage my song on there was “Young Hearts”. I was also on the Don’t Be A Menace… Soundtrack with my own song called “It’s Time.” The Blackout! album with Redman and Method Man I was on “Cereal Killer” I did a lot. I’m trying to think of all of ‘em off the top of my head [laughs]. It was a lot. I was on The W CD that came out, but of course my name wasn’t on the credits. How does that make you feel when you do something and you aren’t credited for it?

Blue Raspberry: It hurts. It does. Because to tell you the truth for me to look and see platinum [albums] on my wall or gold on my wall and to have not been able to afford a brand new car in all of this time. It gets to me sometimes, but I try not to let it bring me down. I just try to learn from it. Could you tell us a little more about Out Of The Blue. What was the process like?

Blue Raspberry: I did these songs because I wanted to get out. I mainly started because I let my feelings out in my music. I let my feelings out in what I write and people had encouraged me to start back singing, “Go ‘head and sing,” you know, “Do an album,” “You better go ‘head and get out there because you got really good vocals don’t let what happened with Wu-Tang hold you down.” So I did and I found out I had a lot more fans than what I had expected. [Laughs] When people started finding out I was coming out I was like, “Okay, alright well I’m gonna go ‘head and just throw this CD out and see what kind of response I get.” And it’s basically, Out Of The Blue, the concept of that me naming it Out Of The Blue is because nobody knew what happened to Blue Raspberry, nobody knew where she was, nobody knew what ever became of that lady that used to [be with] Wu-Tang. You sample Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” on your album. What was the motivation behind that?

Blue Raspberry: It actually had to do with a way I was feeling in a prior relationship that I had and a lot of things in my past I had written about and things like that and hadn’t put it to music or anything like that. Matter of fact, “Strange Fruit” has something to do with not only me, but I see people out in the world that’s going through some things. I see people being done wrong. I see people doing people wrong. I happened to have just finished watching The Cotton Club and I said, “Okay, I like the music on here”. So “Strange Trees” came from AZA he’s over in Europe. I think AZA’s from Hungary; he produced that track. I fell in love with it when he gave it to me. I’ve always looked up to Billie Holiday. I admire her work so much. That’s like one of my favorite singers. Do you ever plan on joining a label in the future?

Blue Raspberry: In the future, but right now timing is everything and I’m in the studio right now I’m grinding. I’m grinding real hard right now, trying to get everything. ‘Cause what I wanna do before I sign to a major label is I wanna make sure I have my album done myself. I want it to be, if not all of it, at least 75% of it being a single because when I go in the studio, I have single on my brain. I have hit single on my brain and if it’s not a single I want it to have a use in some sort of way. I want my album to be plush. Are you working on anything right now?

Blue Raspberry: Yeah, I’m actually working on album right now called TNT. I’m in the studio working on it right now and I have producers on it right now. The producers that I have, it’ll have Ski Beatz on it. This one is gonna have production on it from Khrysis. Of course, Doxx that did my first album he’s gonna be on this. I’m all about being open to production. I mean good music is good music I am not going to turn anything that sounds good down because a lot of these producers out here right now sound as good as the industry producers or better. I mean they have talent too. They need to be heard and so I’m open. I’m open to that.