Music industry veteran Sophia Chang, who has managed some of the greatest acts in hip-hop and R&B, tells her story for the first time on the latest episode of NPR’s hip-hop podcast, Microphone Check. You can hear the nearly 90-minute long conversation here.
Chang, who has only ever given one other interview, has guided the careers of one-third of the Wu-Tang Clan (RZA, GZA, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard), Q-Tip, D’Angelo, and Raphael Saadiq, and many others. This talk with her longtime friend Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley goes through all of that, and a whole lot more.
Chang uses the long-form interview to discuss everything from Paul Simon’s personal shoppers to Red and Meth’s workout plans to taking the RZA, the Abbot of Wu-Tang, to China to meet the actual Abbot of the country’s Wu-Tang temple. She also takes the show into a long discussion on the hip-hop community’s reluctance to deal with issues of depression—something she saw first-hand with her close friend Chris Lighty. Additionally, she shares behind-the-scenes stories about some of hip-hop's greatest records, including the Wu's "Can It Be All So Simple" and A Tribe Called Quest's famous "Scenario" remix.
Chang told Complex that the interview happened during a late April visit to Los Angeles, while she was visiting Raphael Saadiq’s studio.
“Ali and Adrian [Younge] are scoring Luke Cage, which is directed by Cheo Hodari Coker, for Netflix,” she explained. “They’re scoring it at Raphael’s studio. Every time I go to L.A., I barge into the studio and I make Raphael let me come and listen to music. I got there and Frannie Kelley, who’s his partner at NPR, said, ‘We want to interview you.’ I was like, ‘Really? You do? I don’t think I’m that interesting, but alright.’ So we set it up. I went there early one morning, we did it, and it was great.”
Chang has done very few interviews over the years, but is now stepping out into the spotlight in anticipation of her upcoming blog, which will be called Raised by Wu-Tang.
“I’ve always chosen to be really behind the scenes,” she said. “But I am going to launch this blog, and I understand that if I’m going to blog, and if I’m going to draw attention to myself as a voice, I need to prepare myself.”
So far, reaction to the episode among listeners has been extremely positive.
More importantly, though, Chang herself is satisfied.
“I was really happy with how it came out,” she told Complex. “I got to say a lot of the things that are important to me.”