Every rapper has her own journey to the top, and Nyemiah Supreme started hers from the ground up. The Jamaica, Queens native began her career as a back-up dancer for Lil Mama and later, learned the ropes as rapper Juelz Santana’s intern. Working with the Dipset rapper led to Supreme’s first big break - a collaboration with Jim Jones on his single “Everybody Jones.”
Since then, Nyemiah has been hard at work with super producer and mentor Timbaland, dropped two mixtapes and is readying solo material to show off her rapping, singing and dancing skills.
From the background to center stage: Meet Nyemiah Supreme, and watch Sisterhood of Hip Hop premiering Tuesday, August 12 at 9/8c!
When did you first know that you wanted to be a rapper? Was it a childhood dream?
Something in me did. Watching Aaliyah videos. I saw the dancing and I was like, “That’s the job I want to do!” I had background dancing jobs [for Lil Mama] and then I had an internship with a rapper [Juelz Santana]. Even as a background dancer, I felt that I didn’t want to stand behind the artist. I feel like I should be the one in front. I don’t want to be behind anybody.
Getting gigs with Lil Mama and Juelz Santana isn’t easy. How did you get them?
Through word-of-mouth in dance groups, I auditioned. I was in school at this point, but I just went. I had to skip finals to audition and tour but I’m like, “I’m going on tour.” It was a life-changing experience for me. Being in a different city every day, the tour bus, getting paid. It was really cool. It was the Chris Brown tour so it was all of his fans that really love him. That was really fun like, “Wow. These people love us.”
How long have you been dancing?
Since seven. I’ve done all types. Ballet training. On pointe. Tap dancing. I do all types of dance.
How did you get an internship with Juelz?
My friends in high school were cool with Juelz. I would always tell my friend that I wanted to be involved in entertainment. He needed an assistant so they thought of me. I had to come and interview with his publicist and manager. I had to initiate myself like, “Do you need anything today?” Show up and just be around. I was the girl like, “Go do this. Can you take this? Drop this money off.” Monitoring the studio. The office. That’s how I met Jim Jones.
A lot of people don’t realize how un-glamorous it is being an intern in the music industry.
Go get this food. Run here. Call this. Go to Manhattan. Drop the car off. Anything. Get the tiles from the construction workers. I never said anything about being an artist. I always felt like they probably get hit with that so much. Are you here to work or are you here to drop your demo off? I didn’t want to give that impression, but I soaked everything in.
How did this turn into you becoming a rapper?
In the midst of running around, they would have these parts where they needed a female voice. I would say something on the skit or on the hook. Nothing that was released, but I saw Jim Jones in Jamaica, Queens and he was like what are you working on? I went to the studio that night and laid down a verse on one of his artist’s songs. He was impressed and kept inviting me back. He ended up putting me on his song “Everybody Jones” and that was the jumping off point.
What happened after?
I was played on MTV, BET. I’m on the radio. Funkmaster Flex out here. I was leaving work and heard the song like, “Oh my God. I can hear my voice. I’m about to go crazy.” That made me realize, I want to do this for the rest of my life. There’s opportunities happening once I follow through.
One of those opportunities has been working with Timbaland. What was that first meeting in the studio with him like?
I was scared sh**less. People always ask me, “Were you excited?” No! I was really scared. I had to write my best verse to come back and do this again. My mother was like, “You didn’t dance when you saw him?” I’m like, “No. I was trying to write the best raps I can and really impress him musically.” Everyone can come in and smile but can you really perform what you supposed to do there?
He’s now a mentor to you.
Definitely. He’s really embraced me and taught me a lot of things. He’s really supportive. It’s really cool.
Your song “Downgrade” is featured this season on the show. Is it directed towards a certain guy?
No. It’s about downgrading a guy because he’s not up to par. It’s never directed to one guy but it’s a combination of experiences. Some may think, “She’s rapping about me,” but I don’t want to give them too much shine. It’s the male species as a whole.
What advice do you have for upcoming artists?
Stay on your path. Develop your talent. You don’t have to rush. My artist development was more public. You saw zero to 75. Develop yourself. Mess up. Don’t rush.
Watch an interview with Nyemiah below!