In The Baddest Bitch in the Room (Catapult, Sept.), Chang discusses managing members of the Wu-Tang Clan and being a boss.
What was it like being an Asian woman working in hip-hop in the 1980s and ’90s?
I was the first Asian woman in hip-hop, I believe. When I got a job doing A&R at Jive Records, I was insecure. I thought, “How can I, a Korean Canadian who majored in French lit, who is not of the culture, be one of the gatekeepers?” I got over my trepidation and just put in the work. The way the community responded was inspiring.
You’ve been a talent manager for iconic rap artists like RZA, GZA, and Q-Tip. What were the challenges of the job?
Creators don’t live on the same schedule as many of us. I would never do anything with them before noon. Not a shot! They were always up late. When managing artists, you have to have patience for the creative mindset.
How has the Wu-Tang Clan changed your life?
I immediately felt welcome when I met them. There was no “who’s this Asian woman?” Method Man was the first to call me family, and that was significant to me, because we didn’t talk like that when I was growing up. To this day, when I see them, I feel enveloped by love.
You call yourself a hustler. What makes a good hustler?
You see opportunity where others can’t. I see money every day. If I meet you and your friends and we start talking about what we all do, I will think of how we can make money together. Being a hustler and being an entrepreneur are not synonymous. I am both. To hustle is to be proactive.
Back in the day, you hosted a lot of musicians at your New York City apartment. What was that like?
Q-Tip was at my place all the time, and one of my favorite pastimes was making him laugh. And Redman used to crash at my place when he was in the city late at night. He’d stand in front of my building and call my name. It was such a Say Anything moment, except there was no romance involved. I would open the window and drop him my keys and go back to sleep. Eventually I just gave him a set of keys.
You’ve been practicing Shaolin kung fu for decades. What has the practice done for you?
It’s essential to my physical and spiritual well-being. I’m about to be 55 and I feel stronger than ever. I would never kick someone’s ass, but I probably could.
What inspired you to write this book?
I want to be of service to others. I hope this book is helpful to those who have been afraid to tell their stories or raise their voices, people who feel they’ve been undervalued. Telling our stories is the only way we can combat being erased. And my message to women is: find in yourself what makes you the baddest bitch in the room.