Teairra Mari
4.14.2010

10 Questions for Teairra Mari

Teairra Mari has always passed when she’s been offered a glass of Haterade—politely, of course. She may be an artist competing for a spot in R&B’s royal court, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped supporting her peers. The Detroit native has even come close to shedding a jovial tear for one Southern singer’s recent album accomplishments. “I was so happy for [Monica],” Teairra admits, while tapping her five-inch Giuseppe Zanotti heels on the floor of a room tucked away in a New York City high-rise. “I almost cried for her.”

When hearing the petite-framed songstress make such remarks, it’s apparent the sentiments are genuine. Acting phony isn’t part of her equation, unless it’s for a film role. Besides prepping the summer release of her sophomore album, At That Point, Teairra is also readying for her big screen appearance in Lottery Ticket, a comedy in which she co-stars alongside Bow Wow and Ice Cube.

Apparently, she can deal with drama in front of the camera; behind it, not so much. “I had a lot of troubles in my life,” the 22-year-old reveals. “Family troubles, career troubles. I like to tell people that if you just start feeling good and being grateful for what you have and know that you choose to be happy, then you open up so many possibilities for yourself.”

After watching an episode of “Oprah,” the poster child for eliminating negativity did just that. “Eckhart Tolle was on there and they were talking about how his book, A New Earth, was so life changing,” she continues, “When I heard Oprah say it will definitely change your life, I was like, ‘OK, I got the good stamp of approval. I read it and was instantly touched.'”

As Teairra gingerly eats a salad, careful not to spill any dressing on her blue Topshop blouse and Louis Vuitton belt, she shares some tidbits about her long-awaited album. But as usual, the provocative details are of interest here. Is she sharing kisses with Soulja Boy? Do the new ladies under Jay-Z’s tutelage need to watch their backs? Here’s what the Princess of Positivity has to offer.

1. Soulja Boy appeared in your video for “Sponsor.” Did you have any off-screen chemistry with him?
We’re definitely friends. Just friends. But that’s chemistry. He acts like a gentleman though.

2. What do you have to say to those who think “Sponsor” glorifies gold diggers?
Well, the video was my response. But in words, my response is that a “sponsor” is whoever is dishing your money out. For some people, that could be their man, their sugar daddy, whatever you want to call it. For some people it may be their woman, their sugar mama. For some people it may be their job, their parents. Whoever you’re getting supported by, that’s your “sponsor.” Mine is Warner Bros. [Records]. It’s not a gold digger thing. But gold diggers I’m sure will love [the song]. The way the song is written, it’s very sarcastic. So it’s like he must be a baller, doctor, rapper, I don’t even care, just as long as he don’t say bye. It’s just really fun.

3. Do you have a favorite song on the album?
There’s a song called “Lucky” that I love. Jackpot Music produced that. It’s just talking about being in a relationship or maybe even just a friendship. And you’re telling the guy, like, he’s doing a good job so keep it up and we might get down. So if you keep this up, you might get lucky. That’s just me on that record. And “Emergency” is one of my favorites. It’s about being in a toxic relationship where you’re like, ugh, somebody call the emergency room. I know I’m not supposed to be here and I fell again. A lot of the songs have been put out there. We have collaborations with Pleasure P, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Rick Ross, and of course, Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane. Then there’s producers like Jackpot Music, The Runners, who did “Cause a Scene,” and then Nefu, Oak, Zeke and LRoc, who did “Sponsor,” and I wrote with Rico Love and used a lot of his in-house producers.

4. Did you utilize a friendship with Nicki Minaj to get her on “Automatic”?
I called [Lil] Wayne and I asked him to give me her info because I wanted to get her on the record. He sent me her info. I hit her up and she was like, “Send me the record, I’m in the studio now.” She sent it back so fast, that night.

5. You’re from Detroit but you reside in L.A. What was your last experience like when visiting your hometown?
It was fun. My grandmother just moved into a new home. We were helping her decorate and all that stuff. She was happy and glowing. She cooked dinner. It was very family oriented. And of course, I worked while I was out there. I was promoting the single, doing performances.

6. You’re doing a mixtape with DJ Drama. Why did you choose to work with him?
Actually, DJ Drama chose me. He said he was doing an R&B mixtape, he had just done one with Chris Brown. He normally does hip-hop music. He was like, “I want you to be the first female I use for my R&B mixtape.” So I agreed. DJ Drama does the biggest mixtapes. He charges people to do them. With this mixtape, first I did a remix to [Usher’s] “Daddy’s Home” and another one to Waka Flocka’s [song “O Let’s Do It”], but I was like, I’m just gonna do newer stuff ’cause by the time the mixtape comes out that’ll be kinda old. It’s going to be remixes of songs that are out or maybe even throwback songs. I might do some old-school R&B songs. There’s no title yet. I’ve been contemplating a few titles in my head. We’ll be working on this ASAP, probably in the next three to four weeks.

7. Since you once worked with Jay-Z, what advice would you give to Roc Nation’s new artists, Bridget Kelly and Alexis Jordan?
Just new artists in general, keep good people around you and make sure you’re on top of your business.

8. What are some of the pet peeves that you have about the music business?
The phoniness. The fraudulent people. How people are so fickle—one minute they’re here, the next minute they’re there. And not even just the artists or anything, [it’s] the people around, the “yes men.” Those people get under my skin.

9. You’ve been working as an artist for several years now. What do you consider to be one of the greater accomplishments of your career?
Hmm, I’m like such a spiritual freak that my biggest accomplishment is my happiness. Just finding peace with myself and being comfortable in my own shoes. That’s my greatest accomplishment. I love to preach that to people because I see so many people down and out, in ruts. Everybody goes through it, every day. I like to tell people that it’s your choice.

10. Singers like Keyshia Cole and Christina Milian have recently given birth. Has having children ever crossed your mind?
Definitely in the future. Not now, hell no. I’m not ready. I don’t have no patience. But I always used to say if I had daughters, I would name them Melody and Harmony.

Teairra Mari’s sophomore album At That Point is due June 29, featuring the singles “Cause a Scene” and “Sponsor.”

–Georgette Cline