For those that need help with the title of this blog, Tracey Lee is a rapper from Philadelphia PA, that made his debut in 1997 with a single entitled "The Theme", however, his story starts way before that year and really, his saga never ended, leading up to him passing the bar exam in 2007 to become the first major label hip hop artist to earn the title "Esq" after his name .
Tracey's early collegiate life at Howard University in the late 80's and 90's was surrounded by greatness in the making. Although Howard is known for having alumni such as Angela Winbush, Phylicia Rashad and Thurgood Marshall, men like Anthony Anderson, Sean "Puffy" Combs and Deric D-Dot Angelettie had no idea of the entertaining icons they would soon become. And we're sure Tracey didn't know the Hip Hop ride he was getting ready to take.
Skuuuurt! Now, fresh off his single in 2018 "Doc Brown" (the "Back To The Future" reference), is so befitting to his legacy. From HBCU college student, to having a hit record storming the charts, to having to adjust to being a regular person again and finding redemption with being a practicing entertainment lawyer. So let's hop in the Delorean, pull the doors down while I paint this picture...
1997: I'm watching Rap City the Basement and Big Lez is on the set of "Crush On You" by Lil Kim and she's interviewing this hip-hop star studded cameo cast from Ed Lover to Jay Z and then all of the sudden the camera cuts to this new coming rapper they call Tracey Lee. He's riding off of his HOT single "The Theme/It's Party Time" all of the sudden, Lee leaks that his album has a guest appearance with The Notorious B.I.G. and from that moment the rapper's ratings went from a 7.5 to 9.9999 in the hip-hop polls.
"A lot people don't know, Red Alert is the one that took a chance on that record. Comic Kev, Flex all of them passed on it because I wasn't known, but Red Alert gave it a chance and once he put his stamp on it, it was poppin after that"
But 1997 was The Tale of Two Coasts. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Hip Hop was still mourning the death of West Coast legend Tupac Shakur that happened in September of 1996, and on Mar 9, Brooklyn's Finest rapper The Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles while promoting his Life After Death album, released on March 25th. Those events led shockwaves throughout the Hip Hop culture and left the headz in a state of confusion, left to sort out how they felt about it. It was no longer "Party Time" (pun intended) in the USA. The country was choosing sides. When I asked Tra Lee how his record was effected by the coastal beef, he responded "Nah surprisingly but not so surprisingly the record was bigger than me, I can admit that. "It's Party Time" is known by the masses, but I could walk down the street and nobody even know I did that record, but to answer your question, that song was getting played in so many major markets because it was a vibe and hip-hop was moving the club at that time"
The title of his album Many Facez was aptly named because Mr. Lee struggled to find a solid identity during this time from 1998 to 2001. You had DMX and Jay Z making their way representing Def Jam, and Hip Hop was entertaining the fellas in Atlanta and New Orleans something major. This all led up to Tracey and Universal going their separate ways, which also led Tracey back to living with his mother. To his dismay and benefit his mother strongly suggested him to fly the coup and use the tools God gave him to figure the world out. He stated "That was the best thing she could have ever did"
Tracey decided to go live with his brother in Atlanta, and while down there, being the spiritual man he his...he listened to his inner voice challenging him to go to Law school. Being conscious of any negative backlash he said, "I didn't tell anybody I was going" He stuck with it, which produced him getting his law degree in 2006 from Southern University Law Center. Tracey has represented high-end clients such as Eric Roberson, Kelly Rowland and Solange Knowles.
As we talked he said very strongly "There needs to be more stories like mine that are told when it comes to hip-hop. I interrupt "But you know "The Industry" doesn't want us to get too hip to their tricks" Tracey continues "But still, we just need more positives stories, not just like the UnSung stories of artists that didn't know what was in their contract."
"Let them know that while I was getting my degree, I was still making music. I never stopped making music. I was still growing, just without a major record label behind me"
Which is why we are here today. Uptown Weekly and LLeft Entertainment are joining forces to promote his latest single "Doc Brown" A song that connects Classic Hip Hop drums with contemporary synth chords. It's a sound we feel bridges generation gaps while at the same time letting Mr. Lee be true to his hustle & flow. Search "Doc Brown" on ALL streaming outlets.
Before we ended the call, we paused and almost simultaneously agreed, because we felt it in our spirit! This was not an interview.... this was a long lost conversation between two kindred friends.
Thank You Tracey