Lori Nelson Lee draws inspiration from hip-hop culture to write her latest book, “Hip Hop Don’t Stop”

Hip-hop has become an important part of culture in a way never anticipated more than 30 years ago. Lori Nelson Leean author who grew up with the culture, used her experience to write her latest children’s book, hip hop don’t stop.

Lee, who is married to a hip-hop artist-turned-lawyer, Tracey Leecreated his latest book during the pandemic. Illustrated image book is on a dad whoinspired his children to use positive and creative thinking through a rhythm look at the influence of hip-hop art has on a overall Culture.”

BLACK CORPORATE connected with the self-published author to discuss the purpose of the book, the influence of hip-hop on her personal and professional life, and how she copes with running a business while raising a family.

What prompted you to write children’s books?

My mother has always loved to write and still loves to write. As my brother waited for my niece to arrive, she decided to write her own story after discovering the lack of diversity in the books. It became a small project that we could work on together. When we were done, we each had a book – Hillary’s Adventures: Hillary’s Big Business Adventure by your servant, and I can do it myself by Valerie Nelson. I took it a step further and decided to produce and publish both books. It was the start of Nelson Publishing and the start of my love of writing for children – that was 20 years ago.

What is the premise of hip hop don’t stop and why did you write it?

hip hop don’t stop is a picture book about a father teaching his children about hip-hop culture and the responsibility that comes with using your voice for creative expression. I was inspired to write the book after being home for months with my husband and kids during the pandemic. I appreciated the gift of time with my family and found myself observing the interactions between my husband and our children in a different way. They inspired me – and I had fun using the hook from one of my favorite Tracey Lee songs, “Stars In The East (with One step behind) as a hook in the book. To help bring the characters to life, I had my illustrator, the extremely talented, Audeva Joseph, use real pictures of my family to draw the characters in the book. My children loved seeing themselves animated.

(Image: Courtesy of Nelson Publishing)

This project was definitely personal, so when reviewers describe my book as powerful, interactive, engaging, respectful (of hip-hop culture), relatable, thought-provoking, etc., it really fills my heart. I feel like they don’t just like the book, they like my family!

You are married to Tracey Lee, hip hop artist turned lawyer. How has the culture of hip-hop improved your personal and professional life? How do your children see hip-hop, living with two artists?

I wouldn’t say that hip-hop has improved my personal or professional life. I would say hip-hop has definitely influenced my life and my business, just by being a product of hip-hop myself. It influences what I watch, what I listen to, how I communicate, how I write, what projects I choose to produce, etc. least two pairs). Today, the culture has grown and expanded to a level that makes it nearly impossible for anyone or any business not to be influenced in some way by hip-hop.

My kids, like most kids these days, don’t really know what a world without hip-hop looks like. It’s just a normal part of how they live, learn and socialize – at home and in the classroom. Hip-hop culture for kids today is as normal as cell phones and bottled water.

For my kids in particular, they have the added bonus of having entertainers at home. They’ve seen us in creation and performance mode, and we see how it inspires their creative process – and sometimes includes them (as with the illustrations in this book). My daughter, now seven, was featured on Tracey’s expect the unexpected album at the age of three. She also likes to invent her own stories and songs. It’s fun to see a bit of us in his creative self. My five year old son loves music and likes to imitate Tracey. He’s featured in Tracey’s upcoming music video for her latest song, Cocoa. He’s our little interpreter.

As an entrepreneur, how do you raise a family and run a business? What type of difficulties do you encounter?

Building a business from scratch is always an uphill struggle. Throwing young parenting kids into the mix while trying to nurture my creative needs as an artist is a whole new level of madness. At first, my business was growing at a comfortable pace; we were publishing books, producing movies and dropping music. When my kids were babies, I switched gears. I used a lot of my time to bond with them and focus on the fun of motherhood. The kids don’t care if you have deadlines, need a good night’s sleep, or just need 30 minutes of quiet time to put an idea on paper. They want you when they want you, and my family has always been my highest priority. So, during the day, I did limited daily business transactions and at night, between feedings and quick naps, I wrote; sometimes solo, sometimes with one of my writing partners. Now that my kids are older, I’ve found more time to be creative and manage business. The struggle for balance is real, but it’s a team effort between us and the kids.

Tracey and I also try very hard to have and maintain a routine in our house. It helps children have structure, but also helps us define the space of our day specifically for creative work. We’re also extremely supportive and understanding of everyone’s creative process, so we allow that space. Weekends are usually reserved for family time. It’s not always perfect, but we give each other grace and we get help when we need it from my parents and my mother-in-law. It also helps that we’ve always been blessed with a talented and dedicated team of professionals to work with us and make concessions because they believe in what we do and respect our vision as artists.

What advice would you give to those who want to capitalize on their talent and passion?

Jump over there and do it! Talent is meant to be shared – it’s meant to inspire. I know it can sometimes be scary because art is personal; Spreading it to the world and braving the opinions of others can be difficult for some. But keep these 5 points in mind:

“Opinions don’t matter, they’re a dime a dozen. Everyone has one.

— There is an audience for every artist, you just have to find your audience.

— Your first project may not be perfect and that’s okay because the goal is to start. If you are dedicated to your craft, improvement will come with each new project.

— Recognize that you are only one person and that you will need a team. Surround yourself with quality, like-minded people and don’t be afraid to ask for help and lean on them when needed.

— Find a creative process that works for you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking there’s only one way to make your art. When I first started writing, I heard so many opinions about when, where, and how “writers are supposed to write.” Just know that your creative process is just that – yours.

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