“From Emcee to Lawyer: Learning the Business of Music”
In 1997, the lyrics to Tracey Lee’s smash, The Theme (It’s Party Time) could be heard in every club from the east to west coast, and Tracey could be seen on national television shows such as BET Rap City: The Basement, HBO’s ARLI$$ and more. From the success of a popular single, there can be ups and downs, as Tracey found out shortly after the release of his first album, Many Facez. Now, let’s start from the beginning……
Raised in the city of brotherly love, Tracey first fell in love with hip-hop at 9 years old when he heard Sugar Hill Gang’s, Rappers Delight. Tracey then wrote his first rhyme when he was 11 years old and knew he wanted to be an entertainer and successful emcee. After graduating from Howard University with a degree in Communications, Tracey inked a recording deal with Bystorm, a subsidiary of Universal Records founded by music industry executive, Mark Pitts. The Theme, which settled on Billboard’s Top 100 for thirty-seven weeks, was an immediate smash and catapulted Tracey to stardom overnight.
As a rising star in hip-hop, Tracey had the opportunity to be a part of some amazing collaborations with award-winning artists such as Busta Rhymes, Kanye West and the popular Keep Ya Hands High collabo with Notorious B.I.G. “That was the most incredible experience for me as a signed artist. During our session, BIG taught me more about the game than I had known at that particular time. He was the first artist that I witnessed write without a pen and paper, which inspired me to eventually write lyrics in my head (without pen, paper, Blackberry, Android, iPad, etc…). His skillset on the mic is unmatched to this day,” remembers Tracey.
After the moderate success of Many Facez, Tracey recorded a second album that was not properly promoted and marketed, and he was eventually dropped from the label. After this professional blow, it prompted Tracey to seek additional education in an effort to become more knowledgeable about the legal side of the music business. As a result, he earned a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) Degree from Southern University Law Center making Tracey the FIRST former major label hip-hop artist to earn the title Esq. after his name. Tracey says, “Obtaining a law degree was a natural progression. I decided instead of being upset with the music game and the players, let me learn about the game and contractual jargon.” Some of his clients have included: Grammy-nominated artist Eric Roberson, Invisible Productions (for Kelly Rowland, Solange Knowles and Kobe Bryant) and DJ Young Guru (former tour DJ & Engineer for Jay Z).
Even though Tracey had a J.D. under his belt, he still had passion for music and decided to return as an independent artist under the LLeft Entertainment label, a company he co-owns with his wife, Lori Nelson Lee. So, after 20 years of being benched, Tracey re-enters the game with the release of his new album, ESQ. The Revelation. On the album, Tracey worked with fellow Howard alum Eric Roberson on two songs, Howard Girls and The Hunger. DJ and Grammy award-winning Engineer, Young Guru produced Devil’s Advocate. Guru also did the scratches on the single entitled, Pro Bono. The album also highlights two up and coming artists; Bryan Pace, who performed and produced Weight and Vision, and Ms. Cherokee aka Em Cee, who performed on Back Home.
The inspiration for ESQ. The Revelation comes from Tracey’s love of the art and culture of hip-hop, as well as his spirituality, which he attributes to guiding him on this path to fulfilling his God–given duties. His final inspiration comes from his daughter, Tanner Lee. “As she begins her journey in life, I want her to see what her daddy does not what her daddy used to do,” states Tracey.
You may wonder if Tracey lost any of his swag and style. Of course not! “When Many Facez was released in 1997 I was 26, single and living a “rock star” life. I've grown since then. I’m 44, married and my wife just gave birth to our first child. I’ve matured lyrically and musically, and the evolution is apparent. But as an Emcee/MC, please don't get it twisted. I still live and breathe the culture that we call hip-hop. Therefore, as we say in the hip-hop culture, I still got bars, my flow is still impeccable and I can still spit with the best of them,” says Tracey. This is evident in the support and accolades he receives from such legends as Chuck D and Big Daddy Kane. “I always thought it was dope how you mixed hood sh*t with party sh*t. You’re a real MC, lemme pay homage correctly,” says Kane.
Howard University Sports & Entertainment Law Conference
Tracey Lee was a featured panelist at the 2015 Center Court Conference.
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INTERN MEDIA: Don’t Call It A Comeback. He Never Left: Tracey Lee Esq. The artist and the attorney.
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Tracey talks with Mr. Peter Parker about his new album. LISTEN HERE
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Most of you know may know the name Tracey Lee, a thriving rapper who got his start years back when he was signed to Universal Music. After a tumultuous journey in the record industry, he decided to put his bad experiences to good use and joined law school. READ FULL ARTICLE
BLACK ENTERPRISE MAGAZINE: The Many Faces of Tracey Lee: From Rapper to Attorney
Artist wants to protect others from signing lives away in bad contracts. READ FULL ARTICLE
HYPE MAGAZINE: Rap Versus Law
Artist, MC, attorney and family man Tracey Lee takes us through the golden era of hip hop, working with Notorious B.I.G on a track, studying law and some inside information on his latest project due out fi rst quarter of 2013. If you’re into fi nding a balance between the music and the business with regards to law then this one’s for you… READ FULL ARTICLE
THE URBAN DAILY: Tracey Lee Remembers Recording With Notorious B.I.G And Night He Was Killed
On the eve of the 15 year anniversary of one of hip-hop’s most important figure’s untimely passing, Tracey, now a certified entertainment attorney and freshly minted independent rapper, shares his memories of working with Brooklyn’s finest, including a conversation they shared just minutes before BIG was shot. READ FULL ARTICLE