It’s apparent Teairra Mari is no longer the Princess of Roc-A-Fella Records, but that hasn’t slowed her stride in the least. She stepped out from the spotlight, regrouped, and has now come back swinging with her sophomore effort, At That Point.
The Detroit native invited a select number of industry insiders to Legacy Studios in New York City to get an advance listen of her album, set to drop on Fo’ Reel/Asylum/Warner Brothers Records in November. The project showcases Mari’s growth from girl to woman, her convalescence from being knocked down to getting back up, and all of the fun stuff in between. To sum it up, this album is about self-recognition.
Mari comes to many points where she realizes that her relationships aren’t in good standing (“Holla,” “Emergency”), she’s done wrong (“Find My Way Back”), and even acknowledges that her love is out of this world (“Automatic”). Though her album is complete, Mari’s journey is far from over, continuing to intrigue those who never abandoned her.
1. “I Know It’s You”
The uptempo, heavy bass on this album’s opener acts as a dizzying backdrop for a song dealing with a topic that would drive any girl bananas. “I think it’s cute how you don’t know me,” Mari croons frustratingly yet lustfully to a guy who’s loving her in private, yet ignoring her publicly. Talk about being at that point where you’d want to go upside someone’s head!
A ballad co-written by the producer and Mari, “Holla” finds the songstress hitting the pause button on a detrimental relationship. She shocks her guy over a piano background by declaring, “You didn’t think I’d be leavin’/ The joke’s on you, now we even.” One of the best tracks on the album.
3. “Sponsor” featuring Soulja Boy Tell’em and Gucci Mane
Mari dedicated this street anthem to her college-age “struggling” lady friends that are able to get a guy to “fill up a cup for [her], fill up a tank for [her].” Is “Sponsor” the 2009 vernacular for sugar daddy? Well, if the girl can brag that, “Anything [you] ask from [your] sponsor, he goes and buy it,” without having to give anything in return, we say do your thing, P.Y.T.!
4. “Cause a Scene” featuring Flo Rida
A low, yet heavy and strong bass and drums set the tone for what could happen if Ms. Mari’s hang time is rudely interrupted. “I’m up here on this gasoline/ You know I’m ’bout to take my shoes off and grab my Vaseline,” she warns to any disrespectful chick trying to knock her down. And Flo Rida’s on standby as a backup if needed.
5. “Diamonds” featuring Kanye West
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and if Mari’s claiming that her love for a guy is comparable to the affection she has for her favorite jewel, then she’s loving you long time. Mr. “Diamonds Are Forever” Kanye West also waxes poetically on the track about (what else?) how he styles and profiles while draped in ice. If every diamond is unique and unlike any other, then this song lacks in grade and value, due to the production. The beat mimics Fergie’s “Glamorous,” background hand claps and all.
6. “Find My Way Back”
Mari revealed during the listening session that she was compelled to write this song after realizing that she’s “always messing up good relationships,” said with a sad laugh. Solution? Pen a song begging for her guy to “don’t tell [her] that it’s over” because she’s going to do all she can “to make it back to you.” However, she sings on the track in a whisper so tantalizing that we’re willing to bet she won’t be in the doghouse for long.
7. “Hunt 4 U” featuring Pleasure P
The Good: The song’s sentiment is sweet enough, as Mari is searching for the guy she once fell in love with. Yes, he’s gone ghost figuratively, as his personality has switched up. But instead of kicking him to the curb, she’s willing to do some searching within his soul.
8. “Automatic” featuring Nicki Minaj
Mari’s got a big ego. Never one to shy away from getting sexy on a song, the 21-year-old singer boldly declares that her sex game “will get you higher than a mutha,” over an aggressive, synth-heavy beat. Oh, you didn’t know? Go ask that dude that “Used to be a baller/ But now just a f**kin’ junkie.” Stepping it up a notch is raunchy rapper du jour Nicki Minaj, who claims that she and Mari “got that ish that make a n****’s nose wiggle.”
9. “Lights Go Down”
Opening with romantic guitar strings, this song does a complete 180 from the preceding track. Mari’s not screwing, she’s ready to make love to her man, and sets the tone with a smooth, silky contralto. The lyrics aren’t much to mention, but the beautiful cymbals and extremely light bass prove it to be a song worth adding to any Quiet Storm mixtape.
10. “Might Get Lucky”
On this mid-tempo track, Mari’s singing the praises of a guy who’s treating her the way she wants, and that if he continues “Treat[ing] her like a lady/ [She'll] let you be her baby.” She happily coos and croons if he “keep[s] this up, [we] might get down.” With what, exactly? “He might get lucky with ‘Automatic’,” she shared with the audience during the listening session.
Here she’s caught up with another swagger-licious (read: bad) guy, and she’s tired of it. Over an urgent, synthesized beat, she becomes self-aware of the fact that she needs to switch-up her dating regimen. Otherwise, she’ll continue to be “hopeless/ . . . losing focus” and screwing herself in the same situation again. The track, however, is an unmemorable low point.
If you ever experienced the passive-aggressive wrath of your boyfriend after mistakenly turning his crisp white tees bright pink in the wash, you’ll be able to relate to where Mari is coming from on this joint. “Operator” drips of the sarcasm that a girl may experience when her man’s acting pissy and not answering her calls. What’s notable is that the song has a ’60s feel, as the chorus of “Hello operator, can you put my baby on the line?/ So we can get together later/ ‘Cause I really wanna spend some time,” harkens back to an era when groups such as Diana Ross & the Supremes ruled the airwaves.
13. “Built 4 This”
The album closer tells the story of a little girl who lost her way on the rise to the top, but somehow found her way back. Sound familiar? Every good female R&B album has a good “testimonial” record, and Mari works hard to make hers stand out. “They thought I was gone,” she sings in a voice at its strongest on the entire album. A winning track for a new woman ready to reclaim her throne.
–Crystal “Crys Breezy” WilliamsTweet
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