Tiara Thomas is winning. The Indianapolis singer-songwriter scored a platinum hit out the gate with her 2013 Wale collaboration “Bad” and even had Rihanna remix her song—all before dropping an album. After being courted by several labels, Tiara inked a deal with Rico Love’s Division1/Interscope Records, where she will release her debut album The Bad Influence in 2015.
“Everybody has had somebody that they should not be messing with no more. I just wanted to base my whole album off that concept,” she told Rap-Up TV of the title.
Earlier this month, the 25-year-old debuted the Set It Off-inspired video for her first single “One Night.” “I just wanted my first single out to be something that sounded really different. It didn’t sound like your typical R&B girl song,” she said.
Last summer, she had girls all over the world singing along to her lyrics, including Rihanna. “Rihanna on the ‘Bad’ remix was really cool, just because she’s huge. Her singing my lyrics that I wrote, it was dope. That’s definitely an accomplishment.”
However, her proudest achievement to date is having a platinum record. “A lot of artists don’t do that, even ones that have been out for a long time. For my first song, that was pretty cool.”
But despite her success, Tiara is not getting too comfortable. “People back at home in Indy, they might look at me like, ‘Oh, she’s successful. She made it.’ And I don’t feel that way,” she said. “I wanna be on such a larger scale. Success is like, I have to have Grammys, I have to be happy ’cause if I’m not happy then I’m not successful.”
Nicole Scherzinger has found success overseas with her 2011 album Killer Love, but she has yet to conquer the U.S. In early 2015, the former Pussycat Doll will release her solo debut Big Fat Lie stateside via Epic Records. During a quick promo run in Los Angeles, Nicole caught up with Rap-Up TV to discuss her new sound and emotional journey.
“I’ve been waiting a minute, a strong minute to come out with an album finally here in the U.S.,” said the 36-year-old singer, who will star in the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. “I think it was important for me to come out with something that’s really authentic to who I am as an artist.”
She was brought to tears while recording the first single, the raw and vulnerable ballad “Run.” “The song is deeply personal to me and it does show another side to me, a vulnerable side that people don’t normally get to see, a more raw side, an authentic side,” said Nicole.
She credits executive producers Tricky Stewart and The-Dream for helping her find her voice. “I realized when I opened up about some of the struggles, I was able to be a voice and help other people to have the courage to fight back whatever they were going through.”
The title Big Fat Lie has multiple meanings. “First of all, there a lot of misconceptions about me out there. For other people, things aren’t always what they appear to be,” she said. “Another reason is the big fat lies I think we tell ourselves sometimes. Everybody’s got something they’re dealing with. And I know I have my fair share and lot of people don’t feel like they can relate to me, but they don’t realize I can actually relate to them.”
She hopes the album will be well received in the U.S. “I’m so damn passionate about it and I worked so hard, so it would mean a lot for people to see the heart and the soul that I put into my music,” said an emotional Nicole. “It would mean a lot to really hit back home and have everybody feel and connect and love the album and the music.”
Look out for Part 2 of our exclusive interview next week.
Teyana Taylor will silence her critics when she releases her debut album VII on November 4. The project has been years in the making for the Harlem singer, who parted ways with Pharrell’s Star Trak/Interscope Records and signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2012.
And no one could be more excited than Teyana herself. Rap-Up TV caught up with G.O.O.D. Music’s First Lady backstage at August Alsina’s “Testimony Live” tour in L.A. to discuss the long-awaited release.
“It’s kinda hard because people don’t really know the politics behind the industry,” said Teyana. “Everybody is being impatient and so am I. I’m like, ‘I need answers now.’ I finally got an album. I’m just as excited as everybody else and I just hope everybody likes it.”
She has enlisted production from Bangladesh, Harmony, Boi-1da, Hit-Boy, and The Order, with appearances from Pusha T, Yo Gotti, Fabolous, and her friend Chris Brown, who appears on “Do Not Disturb.”
“It’s one of those slow animated songs,” she said of the Breezy duet, which she has been performing on tour.
Unlike her past situation, Kanye West has given her the freedom to do what she wants. “He definitely gives you that creative control. He kinda lets you do you and then you take your project to him,” said Teyana. “You have it all laid out and then he puts the icing and the candles and blows ‘em out and everything else.”
But she won’t hand in the album to Kanye until it’s perfect. “I’m a perfectionist just like him. He always says I’m a female version of him.”
In keeping with the title, VII will be packaged with seven visuals, which she plans to tease in the weeks ahead.
Common, J. Cole, and Drake have all co-signed Jhené Aiko, and now Chris Brown is calling on the in-demand songstress. The two engage in some “Drunk Texting” on their intoxicating duet off Brown’s new album X.
With her own album Souled Out in stores, Rap-Up TV caught up with the L.A. native to find out how the collaboration came to be.
The singers have known each other since Chris released his 2005 debut, and things happened organically. “For me, I like to just do things that I really like. If I like the song, then I’ll do it,” said Jhené.
“They sent the song and it was easy. I just had to go in there and sing it with him. I actually recorded it in this tight schedule, but I really did enjoy the song and I felt like people are really gonna be singing this. They’re gonna relate to the song ’cause everyone of drinking age can relate to drunk texting.”
She’s been a CB fan since “Run It,” and admires his perseverance. “I’ve always been a fan of the music and just his drive to keep going despite everything that happens, and I feel like I can relate to that because it happens, especially in this industry,” she explained. “They’re gonna come after you, time and time and time, you’re always gonna be your mistakes in people’s eyes. But it’s not about that. At the end of the day, it’s about the music.”
Check back for more from our exclusive interview with Jhené next week.
Elijah Blake has penned records for everyone from Britney Spears to Mary J. Blige, but on September 30 he will step into the spotlight with his own EP Drift. The majority of the eight tracks were produced by No I.D., with contributions from J. Cole, Pop & Oak, and Illangelo.
Rap-Up TV recently caught up with the multi-platinum singer-songwriter, who is managed by Roc Nation, to discuss the project.
“You can expect No I.D. at his finest. He’s pushing it,” said Blake, who is signed to No I.D.’s ARTium imprint on Def Jam. “I think everybody’s heard him do stuff for Common and Kanye, like the edgy hip-hop stuff, but this time they’ll really get a glimpse of No I.D. doing some cool, progressive R&B, soulful production.”
Cole produced and is featured on “Vendetta,” which leaked last year. “[Cole] felt like the song didn’t get the proper treatment, so this is our way of putting it back out there into the universe and letting people hear it in the best way possible,” said Blake.
When he’s not working on his own music, he’s been in the studio with Usher, Keyshia Cole, and Rihanna.
“She’s always on some new stuff. She never even stopped recording,” he said of the “Diamonds” singer. “I think right after the last album dropped, she was in the studio two weeks later. They ain’t even know what album they was gonna put it on, but that’s why she’s probably one of the best of our generation.”
Check out the Drift cover art and tracklisting below.
French Montana is just getting started. With his new single “Don’t Panic” burning up the airwaves, the Bad Boy rapper is gearing up for the release of his sophomore album Mac & Cheese (Note: the album is not titled Mac & Cheese 4) this November/December. The Coke Boy recently sat down with Rap-Up TV to talk about his new music and new love.
Since his relationship with Khloe Kardashian went public, French has been the fodder of tabloids and even appeared on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” So it only made sense to get his girl to star alongside him in the video for “Don’t Panic.”
“It was just like, why would I get a video vixen when I got one of the baddest bitches?” said French. “That’s all it is. It just makes more sense to keep it in the family.”
He has been in the studio with Khloe’s brother-in-law, Kanye West, who is executive producing Mac & Cheese. “Kanye was somebody that I was supposed to sign with when I first came in the game,” said French. “I have nothing but respect for him. He’s a legend, he’s an icon. I just feel like he has that Mac & Cheese sound, that soul food sound.”
French has recorded around 80 songs including the Kanye and Mekanics-produced “Gucci Mane” featuring Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. “We based it on when Gucci went crazy at that one time, just like went bad on everybody. The record’s like when you’re about to lose it—Ross on the hook, me and Wayne. It’s a crazy record. We gon’ blow their socks off.”
He has also worked with Miguel on a song called “Explicit.” “It’s a crazy, beautiful record. It’s both our worlds put together,” he said.
While in the studio with ‘Ye, he heard some of his new music including the single “All Day.” “It sounds incredible. He’s about to have another classic album. He’s grindin’. It’s that sound that everybody missed about [Yeezus].”