Deb Antney of Mizay Entertainment is pushing forward, despite what the comment sections say. Antney is just as militant in her business dealings as she always was. The Queens, New York native can be credited with kicking off the careers of Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj, and of course Waka Floacka Flame, her son. Now, she’s on to the next chapter- expanding her empire and signing on to produce Hip Hop’s next superstars.
Although Antney professes herself to be naturally aggressive, there’s a thread of goodwill that runs through her and her growing brand. The idea of women in power is one that appealed to Antney even before working with Minaj years ago. It’s clear that her way of thinking had some part in how the first lady of Young Money conducts business. As Mizay Entertainment continues to build, the label’s owner holds steadfast to her desire of putting women at the forefront of a culture where that image is scarce.
HipHopDX recently had a moment with Deb Antney at this year’s Core DJs conference in Atlanta, Georgia. After speaking on a panel dedicated to Power in the industry, she told us about her new signings, growing ambitions, and the hardest part about being Miss Deb.
DX: Who’s currently on Mizay’s roster?
Deb Antney: We all know Tarvoria of Tarvoria.com. [Her most recent work] is the Street Couture project and the Me Nobody Knows album comes out on October 23rd. There’s two sides to me, let’s go here first: there’s the label side and I have the management side. And although my management company is still run like a label, there’s still a difference between the two.
So on the management side, I have my son of course, Waka Flocka plus his whole BSM crew. I manage all of them: Dirt Gang, Fetti Gang, Cartier Kitten, Wooh Da Kid, OJ Da Juiceman is still very much a part of that. I still do things with [Gucci Mane]. Then we have Suga Shane, Reema Major is the newest one added into the family. We have a slew of producers, you know, Lex Luger, Southside, TM, L-Don, Big Phraze… I’m also into reality stars now, so I have Ashley and Sharon from [Vh1’s] Mama Drama and I can’t talk about the other ones that we’re in negotiations with now. So we’re growing into the movie side of things as well.
DX: Speaking of reality stars, what’s the likelihood that you’ll be managing Rasheeda from Love & Hip Hop Atlanta? You’ve been featured in a couple of episodes and it’s been said that you may become part of her team.
Deb Antney: I can’t talk about it. I cannot talk about it.
DX: Okay, well, what’s been the hardest part of your job after years in the business?
Deb Antney: It’s gaining the respect of people and people learning to respect you for who you are. I think the hardest part is the rumors. When people try and slander you, me losing my identity… Like, at first, me being Nicki Minaj’s manager then me being Gucci Mane’s aunt, then it was OJ Da Juiceman, now it’s Waka Flocka’s mama, but the biggest thing I want people to know is that I’m Deborah Antney. Don’t rob me of my identity, of who I am, don’t take that away from me. I’ve been out here- even longer than this. I’ve been in this game for even longer than my son was alive- even going back to DMC and ‘em, Kelly Price, like, I’ve been around for a minute, but it was on the charitable side because that’s what I love. My first love was charity. I love charity work. So I used to work with a lot of underpriveliged children and bringing celebrities in to do a lot of things for them. That’s how I gained my notoriety here in Georgia.
Thanks to Ludacris and Poon Daddy - that wasn’t Ludacris at the time, he went by Chris Lova Lova when he was with Hot 107.9 with Poon Daddy. No matter what went on, whether or not they were doing whatever, they’d come out to support the kids. That’s what this really started from - all the basketball players and everybody else who supported me. It wasn’t until Gucci came along… He really wanted me to come in and be a part of his career and manage him. I ain’t wanna do no management because I really loved case management and social work. That’s my background. I love helping and doing for people but what I learned in the industry is that social service is definitely needed here. So I got to run my company as if it was social services, like, doing case management on artists.
DX: Would you say your job gotten any easier?
Deb Antney: No. No, because it’s still very threatening. People still spread rumors and instead of them coming along… I open mad doors. I don’t care, I’ll help anybody and work with anybody. I don’t care who they are. Me being tough is because I’m in a male-dominated business and they come at me all the time. I don’t wanna be like this. I’m an aggressive person anyway though because I’m gonna go after what I want and I’m gonna do what I wanna do. My mama’ll tell you that. I’ve always been that person but do I find it easier? No. Because I’m not cliquish. I love everybody and I wanna hang out with everybody. I don’t want to just belong to you. You know what I’m saying because there’s a lot of me to go around and I wanna share me with everybody because I have a lot going on up here in my head and I need to release it. It might not only be able to be released to you, I need to help a lot of people and the biggest thing for me is the women.
That’s how Nicki [Minaj] became such a big play, that’s my baby. That was my first-born child as far as being able to be successful, I thank God I was able to stand up and see her walk across that stage. That was the plan, that was the move and it’s done. Now it’s time for other ones. Other people need to come in. That’s the biggest thing that I want: for us to be able to respect each other. Women should just respect one another. That’s super huge. Not tear each other down. Not ridicule, not every time you turn around I wanna bash you or I have something to say about you. My next big thing is that I want to see a chocolate [complected] girl up on stage because we come in different shades. First and foremost though? The women.
DX: So, what advice do you have for young women looking to move into positions of power?
Deb Antney: Legs closed, pocketbooks open. That’s the motto I have for all women. I want them to stand there and feel strength. That’s really huge for me. For all shapes and sizes, not to feel uncomfortable with who they are. That’s why Tavorria is so important to me. I’m not changing her because I don’t think she needs to be changed. I want people to recognize her for the talent that she has. Not because she went out and got ass shots or breast implants, but every woman is beautiful and the beauty is only skin deep. I want every girl to feel comfortable enough to where she can get up there onstage and not be ashamed of who she is, but she can get up there and do whatever it is that she wants to do.