Original Love & Hip Hop: New York cast member Yandy Smith-Harris says the Sister Souljah classic The Coldest Winter Ever contributed to her big break in the music business.
Yandy’s candid interview in the recent airing of TV One’s Uncensored revealed how she had worked since high school in The Gap’s retail management program, but once the program was eliminated, she found her way into the office of hip-hop management firm and record label Violator. She said she asked an assistant for an internship. After hearing no, she said she kept pushing for more information but noticed the assistant was absorbed in a book. And she knew taking note of the book could open doors.
“‘Hey, I just wanted to let you know I got that book, The Coldest Winter Ever,‘” Yandy said she recalled saying to the assistant the next day after borrowing money from her mother to buy the book. “‘I noticed you were reading it, and I’m like, ‘Girl, Midnight, he sound like he about to be a number.’ And she’s like, ‘Wait till you get to chapter six, girl. It gonna get crazy,’ or something like that. I don’t remember. You know I read chapter six in about a day or two.”
Once she finished that chapter, she called the assistant again and asked her to lunch, so they could discuss the book. The assistant instead invited her back to the office, where Yandy met veteran hip-hop manager and soon-to-be VH1’s Love & Hip Hop creator Mona Scott-Young. Mona interviewed then hired Yandy on the spot for an internship.
Yandy became “Mona’s assistant’s assistant’s intern” and eventually was elevated to junior manager touring the globe with famous artists like Missy Elliott. Years later, she’d be on Mona’s reality TV show about the women behind rising male rappers via the first version of Love & Hip Hop that’s now a highly rated franchise.
A hip-hop musician herself, Sister Souljah attracted attention when she spoke out on racism during the 1992 presidential election, the same year the Los Angeles uprising occurred putting a light on racial tensions. She took her words to books with 1999’s The Coldest Winter Ever, which became an instant best-seller, especially among the hip-hop industry and its fans. A movie based on the book has been up in the air since the early 2000s with actress/producer Jada Pinkett Smith being rumored to be involved.
Sister Souljah’s follow-ups include 2008’s Midnight: a Gangster, 2011’s Midnight and the Meaning, and 2013’s A Deeper Love Inside chronicling the lives of Winter Santiaga and her drug-dealing family and community. The long-awaited The Coldest Winter Ever sequel, Life After Death, is expected to drop in March 2021.