By Joy Ramirez
Angela Hunte Breaking Boundries
Visions sometimes have a way of becoming reality for those who believe in the power of positive thinking. But no amount of ‘mind over matter’ will guarantee success like good old-fashioned hard work. Ask the Grammy Award-winning songwriter Angela Hunte what is the key to her success and she doesn’t hesitate: “If you choose something and you work hard at it everyday until the day you die—that is the key. Never falter, never complain about it.”
She should know. A trailblazer in the world of hip-hop, Hunte, wrote the NY anthem “Empire State Of Mind,” arguably one of the most commercially successful songs of all time. Released on Jay-Z’s 2009 album The Blueprint 3 and featuring vocals and a chorus sung by Alicia Keys, many live performances of the song have already become legendary. “Empire State of Mind” won two Grammys for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/ Sung Collaboration, giving Hunte a new measure of recognition and praise (and even a rare production credit) for something she had been doing all along.
“It (the music) has always been there,” she said. “Jay-Z decided to be trustworthy and honest,” in giving her the co-production role on the song. “I’m one of the few women in the industry that men trust,” she said. “Not a lot of women get to write for men.” As evidence of this, Hunte was recently asked to play a major role in the much-anticipated new reggae album by Snoop Dogg, Reincarnated, to be released early next year. She traveled to Jamaica with the rap star-turned-Rastafari, who now calls himself Snoop Lion after undergoing a spiritual transformation that forms the backdrop to the album and a documentary based on his experience.
Expressing her disbelief and honor at being asked to partake in such a personal project, Hunte remembers feeling like the whole thing was “touching and surreal,” and she didn’t quite know what to expect. Now, with the experience behind her, she looks back on the time in Jamaica as a seminal one in her life. “My trust circle (in what is still a maledominated industry) will get even bigger now,” she said. She also said that Snoop told her to “write as if you were writing for yourself, not for me.” Not only is that type of free reign rare and gratifying –in any industry—it has changed the way she writes now: “I bring that freedom to everything I do,” said Hunte. “I was treated (by Snoop Lion) as a writer, trusted for the work I had already done. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Snoop Lion documentary, Reincarnated, premiered on September 7th at the Toronto Film Festival and Hunte was in attendance. She waited until the premiere to see the film: “I did not expect to see such an amazing, tear-jerking documentary. I was in shock.”
With a career that is on fire, the busy Brooklyn native said she’s very excited for what’s to come. She has many important events on the horizon, including the release of the Snoop Lion album, the release of her own album around the same time and –perhaps the one she’s most happy and proud about—she will give birth to her first child in February. Meanwhile, the songs, she said, just keep on coming. “I have 20,000 more songs in me. The more I’m trusted, the more songs will come out of me. I haven’t tipped the iceberg,” she laughed.