S2 E3 | Angela Yee
On this week’s “Assets Over Liabilities,” hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings of the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast tap in with radio personality and entrepreneur Angela Yee. As co-host of “The Breakfast Club,” the Radio Hall of Fame inductee has truly made a name for herself in media and in business through multiple storefronts, silent investments and real estate. She’s even mastered the art of accumulating frequent flyer miles and credit card reward points. In her “Assets Over Liabilities” chat, the business savvy boss babe drops all the gems for a successful life in New York and beyond.
Many may not know that Angela Yee got her start in college while working as RZA of Wu-Tang Clan’s assistant. “When I got started, I had so many connections because all the guys [from Wu-Tang] were on different labels.” She learned then, in her early 20s, to “diversify your bonds.” While Yee studied photography and journalism in college, she realized her enterprising spirit by establishing an early hustle: writing artist one-sheets for $500 each. She then went on to freelance as a journalist, writing a cover story about MMG for VIBE and another for YRB magazine on Machine Gun Kelly — all while working as a consultant with several other companies in media and marketing.
With an affinity for numbers, Angela Yee’s first experience with organizing documents and preliminary basics (like hiring an inspector, improving her credit and completing tax returns for a mortgage) was helping Method Man buy a home.
Comfortable behind the scenes, Yee expected to take on a full-time role in marketing with Sirius XM when Eminem launched his station Shade 45. When she requested an interview for the role, Slim Shady’s manager Paul Rosenberg suggested that she audition for the upcoming morning show instead. For three months she showed up and worked the show as an employee even though she wasn’t being paid — until she caught her big break. “It wasn’t until we did an interview with JAY-Z, Memphis Bleek and Young Chris. It was such a good interview that they hired me right on the spot. So, that’s why JAY-Z would be like, ‘I’m responsible for your career,’” she recalled. She’d go on to earn $50,000 a year to host, despite not signing a formal contract. “I was 28 years old so I had been working and already making more money than that. It was tough for me to take it on and do that — I still had my student loans, I had my rent, I had my car. It’s just expensive to live in New York in general. But, I was really trying to get my foot in the door. I felt like this was a great opportunity.”
Yee learned to advocate for herself after reading articles about Black women not negotiating their salaries. So, after the first year, she asked for a raise and it was granted. Sirius XM bumped up her salary to $75,000 per year, plus a $10,000 bonus.
When Ol’ Dirty Bastard passed away, his family was refusing interviews. But, due to Yee’s relationship with Wu-Tang Clan, she was able to get GZA on the phone to speak on the tragedy. This caught the attention of executives over at “The Breakfast Club.”
“I had a job. I had my own morning show on Sirius, so for them to get me to come [to iHeart] — I was actually the last person to sign my contract. I wanted to make sure that I was comfortable with it, that I had my lawyer look at it. I sent over things that I wanted to change. I will always have a lawyer look over an employment contract,” she insisted.
After three years, “The Breakfast Club” became nationally syndicated. When Bilal and Millings asked Angela Yee if Dame Dash’s infamous 2015 “Breakfast Club” interview inspired them to broadcast independently, she likened the discussion to that of music artists and their decisions to sign with a label. “You want the support of that company that has all the satellites in all of the different cities, that has the marketing staff, that has the team in place, that has other shows on the network, that has an audience, that has budgets and all of those things in place,” the experienced businesswoman asserted. “That’s a big responsibility.”
Unafraid to take on more, Yee says she learned to leverage her notoriety and capital from “The Breakfast Club” to launch her first formal business, Drink Fresh Juice. “I used to be scared that I would never have enough money to buy a house. Then I would be thinking, ‘How will I ever retire?’” she reflected. “Sometimes you just need to make more money, so I started making more money. I had side gigs and money in the bank so I learned to invest.”
She first ventured into the juice business based on her personal passion for juicing and by investing in Juices for Life with Jadakiss and Styles P. “I always feel nervous if I have too much money sitting in the bank. It’s a waste. I’ll save up and when I hit a certain goal, I know that I have to do something with it. So, every year I make it a goal of mine to do something with it.” She and DJ Envy partnered to open the Bed-Stuy location, launching the brand into a franchise. “I wouldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for Styles. He knew where to get things from and the repair people. I would rather have 34% of something successful than 100% of something that’s not working.”
Now, the widely recognized hustler has been investing in real estate in order to bring in more income — just in case something happens to the radio show. She began in Brooklyn and then moved on to Detroit. “We got that from the land bank for $1,000 and I flipped that,” Yee said of one property. Keeping in mind her success from maintaining positive relationships, she was able to move more houses in Detroit by asking the real estate agent to help rehab the home in order to resell it for more money, at which point the agent would earn a higher percentage. Angela Yee noted, “You can ask people to do stuff for you, [but] they don’t care that much if they aren’t invested. He knows that the more money this goes for, the more money that he can get.”
Today, Yee lives in a multi-family home in Brooklyn and rents out the bottom floor, which earns her even more money. “In Brooklyn, I have two two-family homes. One is a condo and when I tell you it is the easiest thing I have done … it definitely makes me money. I pay those fees every single month, but the rent covers the fees, the mortgage is already paid off, and I had a tax abatement on top of it.” It’s already worth $250,000 more than what I paid for it two years ago so it was a good investment.”
Learn more business management and real estate tips in Angela Yee’s “Assets Over Liabilities” episode above.