Hip-hop artist delivers ‘school is cool’ message

Posted on Aug 18, 2018 in Alumni News and News

MaQuishia "Cue" Wright | photo by Steve Puppe for Kansas Alumni magazine | Cue Wright
Cue Wright hopes to one day retire from a successful music career and return to KU as a hip-hop professor. “Helping people,” she says, “is what I really like to do.” The following profile originally appeared in issue No. 3, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine.

On Feb. 4, 2017, a new Cue Wright was born. Already having earned two KU degrees and in the early days of a promising career in higher education, Wright shed her naturally shy self and stepped onto the outdoor stage at Mass Street’s Replay Lounge as the hip-hop artist Cuee.

And slayed.

“I knew I could write raps,” says Wright, j’15, g’17, “but I didn’t know I could perform as well as I did.”

A Chicago native, Wright was coaxed into a campus visit by her mother’s longtime employer, “Uncle” Gale Sayers, d’75, g’77. Front-row seats to a basketball game didn’t hurt, but it was Mount Oread that stole Wright’s heart.

Memories of that day are valuable tools in her current part-time job as senior coordinator of student ambassadors. When she meets with prospective students, Wright uses her story to help others write their own.

“I always channel that with my out-of-state students,” she says. “They’re thinking, ‘Why am I at Kansas?’ Well, go out on this campus and let it fill you.”

Finding her way

Wright arrived as a civil engineering major, but felt lost. Her mother asked what she was doing outside of class, to which Wright responded, “Nothin’.”

Wright switched her major to journalism, found her way to KJHK and eventually became director of hip-hop programming. Shortly before winter break of her senior year, her J-School adviser noted her “people-person” personality and suggested she consider a student affairs role in higher education. That required a master’s degree, yet another unknown for Wright, but she dove in. Soon her advanced studies were wearing her thin.

“I need an outlet. I need an other. I need something else. And so I started writing rap. Everything I’m doing is self-taught, but luckily I love to learn.”

Encouraged by family and friends, Wright in 2017 released “Master’s Cap,” in which six songs each explore a year of her college experience.

“My thing is,” she says, “school is cool. I love school. I’m a nerd.”

Wright’s current mixtape, “Shameless,” which she’s dropping online throughout 2018, displays her growth as an artist, both in writing skills (My life is a tornado/The haters all around me, everything will be OK, though) and emotional maturity that “lets the world know who I am.” Her success led to a busy summer schedule in Lawrence and Kansas City, including a prominent gig at the Middle of the Map Fest at Crown Center.

“Pursuing hip-hop in Lawrence has been different. They put me on a lot of alternative shows, and the audience sees this hip-hop opener and it’s totally different than what they’ve signed up for. The rewarding part is when they say, ‘Now I’m a hip-hop fan.’

“I take the blank stares as a challenge, and I love challenges.”

—Chris Lazzarino

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