Lin Que - Interview : Hail the Words of Isis
Interview conducted by:
Todd Davis

As an extended member of the X Clan family, Queens, New York born and bred rapper, Lin Que, nee’ Linque Ayoung, released her widely hailed major label debut, Rebel Soul, in the year 1990. She later deflected from the Clan, and joined forces with another praised femcee, MC Lyte, and the two began a short lived musical journey together recording singles for varied labels. Lin Que would eventually connect with four fellow female rapstresses; veterans, Finesse (of Finesse & Synquis fame), N-Tyce, and Champ MC, along with newcomer, J-Boo, and collectively form the Wu-Tang affiliated quintet, Deadly Venoms. However, unforeseen label woes and industry politics quickly put a damper on that project long before it was even able to see the light of day. And, sadly, Lin Que quietly stepped away from the music business


Following the untimely passing of Professor X [Lumumba Carson], and in his cherished memory, the X Clan recently reunited for an album and tour -- How come you weren’t involved with this historical event?

Lin Que: Firstly, I think it’s important for people to know that I was a part of The Blackwatch Movement. X Clan was also a part of that Movement, along with other artists such as Queen Mother Rage, YZ, Traedonya; etcetera. I toured a lot with X Clan, and performed as well, so I think people automatically felt I was member of X Clan -- I wasn’t. I used to go by the name Isis then, and I was always a solo artist. (The original members of) X Clan (didn’t work) on another album together. I believe (just) Brother J (did). As of today, I am not involved with (that) project, but we recently got in touch with each other and wish each other the best.

There have been talks of a new Lin Que record for quite some time now -- Why did you opt to wait so long between albums? Really, what has been the hold up?

Lin Que: I have been so discouraged by the industry. I came into this business thinking that it was all about talent. Through experience, I learned otherwise. Every time I thought I made a clean break, something would pull me back in. Even though I was under the assumption that I was out of the industry, I could never stop writing. About three years ago, I realized that I should be following my dreams and doing what I love to do. I started producing music as well, because I was tired of having to wait for music producers. Everything started to fall in place. I was able to make music anytime I wanted. Since then, I have completed about nineteen songs. I’ve worked with two other music producers besides myself; Crazy Al Cayne and Azteknique. I am extremely happy about where I am as an artist. The music is so potent and undiluted.

It’s great to know that you are finally working on some brand new material -- So, what can you divulge or reveal about it thus far?

Lin Que: (Like I said,) I have about nineteen songs done, and continue to write and produce. Although I had three album deals with major record labels, only one album was released and that was Rebel Soul. The others only released one single each. Because of this, people don’t really know how well-rounded I am as an artist. I believe the next album I drop will be a testimony of my talents and versatility.

So, besides putting together your long overdue, sophomore album -- What has kept you busy in years off from making music?

Lin Que: I incorporated a business with Barbara Sherin, my best friend, called Queb, Inc. We have been in existence since 1999, and handle everything from Graphic Design to Multimedia. Little did I know that Queb would act as the vehicle to allow me to make my music (again) without worrying about money and the whimsical stature of the music industry.

Take me back…When did you first realize that music was your true calling?

Lin Que: I was introduced into the industry through ‘pop-locking.’ It is a form of break-dancing that is also considered a facet of Hip-Hop. The first movie I was involved with was called ‘The Last Dragon.’ I was bit by the bug right away, and knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. From there, I met a manager that introduced me to my next manager. He shot and directed many Hip-Hop videos, and had me dancing in them. He was the guy who introduced me to Professor X (from X Clan). My first time in the studio was in the Bronx. It was great. Afrika Bambaataa was there, along with Grand Puba (of Brand Nubian fame). I was in awe, and was told to write some lyrics for a song that was centered around freeing South Africa. Lumumba, Professor X, took a chance on me and the rest is history.

Coming up, what artists influenced your sound & style?

Lin Que: I always loved music when I was younger. All different types, but when Hip-Hop came out, I saw people who were just like me on TV. I think that helped me have confidence, (and) that I could do the same. I loved Prince, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, (the) SOS Band, Mary Jane Girls, Rick James, Ready for the World, Fat Boys, New Edition, Michael Jackson, Afrika Bambaataa, Dougie Fresh & Slick Rick, Run DMC, Dana Dane, Eric B. & Rakim, EPMD, Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Mary J. Blige, Tracy Chapman, Sade, etcetera -- There are still so many more.

Who christened you with the moniker Isis?

Lin Que: I was given the name Isis by Professor X. My birth name is Linque, so it has always been a part of me all my life.

What message are you trying to convey with your music?

Lin Que: When X Clan and Isis dropped, and even still today, there was a desperate need to help young black youth get familiar with our history, and help them to have pride in where we came from. That was the basis of The Blackwatch Movement. Today, my music emulates all facets of life.

So, when you write your lyrics, where do you draw inspirations from?

Lin Que: Straight from the Heart!! It usually comes from life experiences. Sometimes I love diving into the poetry of it all and hitting the listeners with metaphors and similes. Then, there are instances when my expression is more literal.

You mentioned working with producers, Crazy Al Cayne and Azteknique -- How involved are you in that whole studio process?

Lin Que: I am extremely involved in the whole process. I’m such a control freak. I produce as well. I do not play a musical instrument, but (I do) use programs that help me to manipulate any sound I desire.

How have you been able to maintain your relevance in an, often times, very fickle recording industry?

Lin Que: I would have to say it’s the belief (that) I have in myself. This industry would have you believe that you aren’t any good. It’s hard to stay confident in a business that really is not focused on how talented you are. You have to (really) believe in yourself, and that is what has kept me going.

Do you enjoy any other facets of the entertainment world?

Lin Que: I write a lot. Whether it be screenplays, short stories, poems, musicals, etcetera. I’m also very interested in directing.

How has Hip-Hop either changed or evolved over the course of time?

Lin Que: I see a huge difference between Hip-Hop Music and Rap Music. Rap Music has been flourishing for the last decade, but Hip-Hop has been re-emerging on the scene. With the success of artists such as; Outkast, Nas, The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common, etcetera -- Hip-Hop seems to be holding it down.

Everyone either knows, or will become familiar with, Lin Que as a rap artist, but who really is Linque Ayoung?

Lin Que: I really put all of me into my music, so I feel like after my next album drops I will be like an open book. I think when I’m rhyming, I come off like I’m this really hardcore female. Believe it or not, I have a very sensitive side that I cherish and love.

Nowadays, what do you most enjoy doing with your spare time?

Lin Que: I spend a lot of time with my family. I am very family-oriented. I appreciate entertainment in pretty much all of its forms; reading, acting, directing, writing, graphic designing, fashion, sports, movies, etcetera.

What future plans & goals do you have in this business of music?

Lin Que: Touching people with my music. Seeing that I can make a difference in people’s lives -- There is nothing like it.

Is there anything that you are looking forward to in the years to come?

Lin Que: This album (titled GODspeed) is what I am really looking forward to (most). I’m very excited!! (With me) it’s all about being ‘Happy.’ Whatever it is I’m doing, I will be Fulfilled and Ecstatic with Life. (My only advice to the readers is to) "Know Thyself" and "To Thine Own Self Be True."



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