Interview: La’Porsha Renae is Already All Ready

It’s been almost a year since La’Porsha Renae was named runner-up on the 15th and final season of American Idol. Although she didn’t come in first place, Renae won over a lot of fans with her incredible voice and inspirational story.

Throughout the show, viewers got a chance to learn more about Renae’s personal life, which includes surviving a domestic violence relationship.

“I learned how much of an inspiration an artist can be to people,” Renae tells Rated R&B. “I was very open about it for the sake of inspiring others and encouraging others who are in a situation like mine to get out.”

Renae’s undeniable talent landed her a recording contract with 19 Recordings/Motown Records and she is now gearing up to release her debut album, Already All Ready, on March 31. The album will feature her singles “Good Woman” and “Somebody Does,” which was written by Ne-Yo.

“The title Already All Ready was chosen because many of what I just named is not considered to be ideal or socially popular when describing a rising star,” Renae said in a statement. “I embraced everything that I thought would hold me back from pursuing my dreams, and used my insecurities to give me the courage to inspire and advocate for others who possessed many of the same insecurities I had. I also wanted to honor single mothers and defy the stereotypical dress code of a thick, brown-skinned, single mother and domestic violence survivor. I’m proud of my curves, my daughter, as well as the harsh past that helped shape me into the strong woman I am today.”

In an interview with Rated R&B, Renae shares more details about her debut album, how she overcame insecurity, her experience as a single mother in entertainment and more.

Check out the interview below.

RATED R&B: While you were on American Idol, we learned about some of your trials and tribulations leading up to the show, which included surviving a domestic violence relationship. How much of that is reflected on your album?

Not much at all because I didn’t want to give that much time to it and that much energy to it. During Idol, I was very open about it for the sake of inspiring others who are in a situation like mine to get out. Now, it’s a different chapter. I really wanted to show the other sides to me like the goofy, bubbly side of me that people didn’t really get to see on Idol — because it was kind of focused on my past relationship.

RATED R&B: Describe your experience recording your first album.

It was fun. It was a little difficult at times because you have creative minds clashing and trying to figure out which way to do everything. All of us wanted the same thing at the end of the day and we are really proud of how it turned out.

 

RATED R&B: Who are some songwriters and producers you worked with?

Some songwriters I worked with were Toby Gad, Ne-Yo, Diane Warren and Harmony Samuels. I had some really, really good writers.The producers I worked with for most of the album were Harmony Samuels and MAJOR.

RATED R&B:What do you want people to take away from the album?

I want them to take away a glimpse of who I am — not just that, but I want them to go on the journey with me. I want them to feel what I felt in each song. At the end of the day, if I can’t portray that emotion to them and make them feel something, then I don’t feel like I’ve done my job as an artist. I definitely want people to be inspired and aspire to be the greatest version of themselves. I hope they get all of that or some of that from the album (laughs).

RATED R&B: You said your album cover represents your past insecurities. How did you overcome those insecurities?

On Idol, a lot of my insecurity came from the fact that I was abused. As a victim, you kind of feel like you wear that on your forehead. You feel like that’s what defines you and that’s what people see when they look at you. Plus, being a thick woman, a single mother, someone who wears natural hair and having brown skin…which is evidently frowned upon here in this country by some — all of that, I had insecurities about. I felt like those were against me when it came to this industry and being accepted and all of that.

RATED R&B: What advice would you give to someone dealing with those types of insecurities?

I guess to overcome insecurity, you have to kind of fake it until you make it. What I mean by faking it until you make it is starting off I didn’t have that confidence. I faked that confidence until it became real. I just had to become nonchalant about it and hope that people would see past all of those things — they eventually did.

RATED R&B: When you shared the album cover on social media, there were some people who felt like you were exploiting your daughter by having her on the cover. How do you deal with the negativity and opinions that come with social media?

I’ve always been the kind of person who has accepted other people’s opinions. When people have certain options about me like they did the cover, I will have a conversation about it because I want to be known as that real down-to-earth person. A lot of people thought I exploited my daughter by putting her on my album cover. I just kindly explained to them, it was more of an honor. I wanted to honor my daughter because she was the reason I got out of that abusive relationship.

While I was in that relationship, I always found a way to blame myself. I always found a way to say, “I deserve what’s happening to me.” But when my daughter came…I feel like God gave her to me to give me something to fight for because I wasn’t fighting for myself. I didn’t want to accept her being hurt because she didn’t deserve it. I knew for a fact there was nothing I could say when it came to her being subjected to that kind of abuse and that kind of environment, so I had to get out. That’s what the cover was about. It was about honoring the fact that we did this journey together. She was the reason I went to Idol. She’s the reason why I blew up and had the opportunity to have this career that I’m starting.

RATED R&B: How do you balance motherhood with your career?

I just make sure that when I’m not working, I give my undivided attention to my daughter. A lot of the times she will travel with me, so I’m really not away from her all that often. It helps that I have a good support system. I have my sister, my mom and my dad. We all just make sure she’s in a very loving, comfortable environment. My mom is my travel babysitter so she’s always with someone she knows.

Get La’Porsha Renae’s debut album Already All Ready here.

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Chart Check: Lyrica Anderson and A1 Heat Up Urban Radio, K. Michelle Lands on Urban AC

Lyrica Anderson A1 Bentley K. Michelle

Welcome back to another edition of Chart Check! Each week, Rated R&B provides detailed insight to the chart movements of your favorite R&B artists and R&B songs. In this updated format, we will discuss Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs (Urban AC) and Nielsen’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay (Urban) charts extensively. Read below for more information on the week of November 25, 2017:

Urban Radio

Cassie has officially returned with her new single “Love a Loser.” The song, which features rapper G-Eazy, received 14 adds on urban radio formats in the latest tracking week. This is Cassie’s first single since “The Boys” with Nicki Minaj, which was released in 2012.

Married musicians and Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood” stars Lyrica Anderson and Floyd “A1” Bentley have been working behind the scenes writing and producing songs for other artists for years, but 2017 is looking to be the year for their own work to finally take off. This week, A1’s SWV-sampled single “Always” landed on the official urban radio chart at No. 40. The song, which features Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, gained a 213 spin increase since last week. Meanwhile, Lyrica is floating four spots under with her tune “Don’t Take it Personal,” which is the lead single from her recently released album Adia. The song was spun 496 times and picked up one add at urban radio in the latest tracking week.

N.E.R.D. and Rihanna are two of the music industry’s most elusive acts, but they may have a hit on their hands with their new collaboration “Lemon.” After being released just a few short weeks ago, the bouncy banger has officially landed on the Urban radio chart at No. 39. The song garnered a whopping 420 spin increase at urban formats, the third-most in the latest tracking week.

Urban AC Radio

dvsn is ready to multiply their recent success by sending their first single to radio. That’s right: “Mood” has been selected as the first radio single from their latest album Morning After, which was released on Oct. 13. The single received eight adds on R&B radio formats, which is the most for the latest tracking week.

MAJOR. has returned to the R&B scene with his new single “Honest,” which leapt onto the Urban AC chart at No. 17 last week. The momentum continues this week as the piano driven ballad skips 17-16, garnering a 60 spin increase since last week. The song also received six more adds at R&B radio formats.

With her first charting single, K. Michelle’s new era has officially begun! This week, “Make This Song Cry” landed at No. 27 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart, thanks to a 51 spin increase since last week. This is the first radio single from the Memphis-bred singer’s upcoming fourth studio album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, which is set for a Dec. 8 release date.

Quick Notes

And in quick notes: Miguel’s War & Leisure lead single “Sky Walker” is picking up speed as it rises 16-14 on this week’s Urban radio chart. The single received a 282 spin increase and has crossed the 10 million mark in urban radio audience; Rapper DeJ Loaf and singer Jacquees’ new single “At The Club” continues to rise on urban radio, sitting just 3 spots below the official chart. The song received four adds in the latest tracking week; John Legend’s newest Darkness & Light single “Penthouse Floor” debuts at No. 26 on this week’s Urban AC chart. The song, which features Chance the Rapper, was the highest debut of the week; and finally, Kenny Lattimore has finally made a “Push” right onto the Urban AC chart, as he is the last of the three debuts this week. His new single, from his new album Vulnerable, landed at No. 28 with a total of 211 spins at R&B radio and formats.

What about you? Are you feeling Lyrica and A1’s new singles? How well do you think Cassie’s new song will do? Did you enjoy this week’s Chart Check? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below!

Stream T-Pain’s New Album ‘Oblivion’

It’s been nearly seven years since T-Pain released an album. The ‘rapper ternt sanga’ makes a comeback with his new project, Oblivion, via RCA Records.

The 16-track LP includes guest appearances from Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Ne-Yo, Tiffany Evans, Wale and more. Tory Lanez was originally supposed to be on the album but their song wasn’t able to get cleared in time. Fans shouldn’t worry, though. T-Pain has promised the song will be out in a matter of days.

“The Tory feature didn’t get cleared in time so it was either leave that song off and release it a few days later or push the album back until that one song gets cleared,” he tweeted. “Obviously I’ve pushed enough dates back lol. So enjoy the other 16 trax until we get that straight.”

T-Pain has confirmed in several interviews that Oblivion will be his last album on RCA Records before he takes the independent route — which could definitely be a great move for him. In 2011, he released Revolver, which debuted at No. 28 on the Billboard 200.

Stream Oblivion below.

Exclusive: Syleena Johnson Gets Deep on Lack of Soul in Music + Talks New Album ‘Rebirth Of Soul’

One of R&B’s most authentic storytellers Syleena Johnson is not shy about recounting her trials and triumphs through her music. For more than two decades, the Chicago native has curated records that have brought joy and sweet pain to our hearts.

Deep and honest cuts like “Faithful to You,” “Apartment for Rent,” “Labor Pains,” and “Label Me” have championed women’s life stories while enlightening men on the day-to-day struggles of womanhood.

Johnson’s first and less documented release, This Time Together by Father and Daughter, premiered in the summer of 1995. The joint album – with her legendary father Syl Johnson – ignited her soulful stardom with songs “Keep on Loving Me” and “Piece of the Rock.”

Seven solo albums and one joint album later, the 41-year-old singer-songwriter pays tribute to her music genius of a father with her fall release,  Rebirth of Soul.

Along with the gearing up for the release of her new album, Johnson continues to secure her bag with television and health/wellness ventures.

During our 30-minute conversation, Johnson dished tribute album to her father, her new TV One talk show Sister Circle, her wellness brand SheLean and her favorite R&B artists now and more.

Check out the interview below.

Already, Sister Circle is capturing audiences across the nations — specifically women of color. How important is it for this new generation of black women to hear other black women like yourself and the other hosts empower and uplift each other?

If I can be frank, this show is important right now in a time where our current leadership is inadequate, unmotivating and sexist, which is causing our nation to adopt those undertones. In an entertainment field, where women — especially black women — are being exploited on television in such a negative way, Sister Circle is a breath of fresh air. We’re not perfect. We’re not walking around with halos. We’re still black women who have the same black women issues.

Our goal is to converse on these issues and show perspective from the African-American point of view in a bulk where the entire show is made up of African Americans. And Sister Circle is something that we don’t have right now in this climate where there are so many issues that pertain to us and our culture. It’s not black women directly. Black men, our sons. Black men, our husbands. Black men, our brothers.

What was it like having Wendy Williams, the contemporary Oprah of daytime, grace Sister Circle‘s inaugural show?

It was one of the biggest example of black women supporting each other. She’s the queen of daytime talk right now. By her being our very first guest, she pretty much blessed the show. She pretty much said, ‘I’m proud of you girls and you’re doing your thing.’ What more can you ask for? Other than Oprah Winfrey herself (laughs).

How does Sister Circle stand apart from other panel talk shows?

First of all, Sister Circle is live every day, five days a week. It’s the first all black panel talk show with no other nationalities. There is a male that represents the LGBTQ community which I have not really seen on any other talk show. Also, our hosts come from all walks of life which is really fun. Plus, we knew each other before starting the show which makes the chemistry really strong.

Recently, you started a health and wellness initiative, SheLean. Tell us about it. Also, did personal health motivate this new business venture? Or was this idea presented to you after the success of fitness DVD Mommy’s Got Soul?

No, it wasn’t personal health. Although SheLean was something that my best friend and I had already put together, what really put the fire under me is when I learned that every 4 out of 5 African American women, according to the CDC, are suffering from heart disease, type II diabetes and mild cancers. African-American women are also developing lupus and other different autoimmune diseases, which I believe is directly related to diet, poor rest and lack of vitamin and mineral content.

Also, the lack of education to be able to remedy this void plays a part. So with SheLean, the initiative is to educate the matriarch of the household, which is a woman, and in educating the woman you can help decrease childhood obesity, as well as obesity and obesity related disorders in minorities cultures, with African-American women and individuals being primary.

How do you resist food temptations and stay on a consistent workout regimen with your hectic work schedule?

During the five-day week, I eat clean. I need my energy and I need my stamina. Eating bad during the week will cause me to be sluggish and groggy. I allow myself a bad meal on maybe Friday and Saturday and then I go back to eating clean on Sunday. Like today, I had a glass of wine and a fried chicken burger. It was a good cheat meal for me (laughs).

I don’t go crazy though … like you won’t catch me eating a full pizza. I’m not really a sweets girl. I don’t get rid of temptations. I minimize them and I put them in my diet where it works. I think what happens is when people diet and they starve themselves it causes them to binge. That’s how they end up eating a whole pizza and ice cream (laughs).

Rebirth of Soul, out now, is an ode to your father, Syl Johnson. What was the overall recording process like?

It’s really easy working with my dad in the studio. So the recording process was awesome. It was all live instrumentation. On the Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings of You,” there was a live harpist and string quartet in the studio. So live instrumentation was the most intriguing thing.

With a title like Rebirth of Soul, do you think soul has died in music? If so, why?

Yeah … and the reason I say yes is because soul is not a genre. When you’re singing soul music, you’re singing from your soul. And that means you’re singing from your story, your history, from the things that you’ve gone through. I think that the music today is talking about things that are way too surface. They’re not getting deep enough into the infrastructure of their spirit and soul. They’re not baring their soul in records anymore. A lot of artists are just taking a song that was written and they just sing it.

As far as the music you’ve heard this year, who’s music do you feel still embodies soul?

Mali Music. He’s my favorite right now. I listen to a lot of old music like Anita Baker, Sade, Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan. Every morning when we come on set for Sister Circle we first listen to gospel. Then we merge to vintage R&B, which has been in my spirit lately. To be quite honest, I don’t even listen to the radio. I’m not really a fan of anything that’s out at all. I do like The Weeknd … sometimes. It’s the music that I like. It’s eerie. He reminds me of a male Sade in a way. He’s just not as poignant as her.

What’s your favorite cut on the new project? Also, out of all the covers, which did you want to nail perfectly?

My favorite cut on Rebirth Of Soul is Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine.” I was so happy to do this record because it’s my favorite Otis Redding record. And the song I wanted to nail was “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. I knew that people would compare me to Aretha Franklin, like they already have. I knew attempting a record of that caliber I had to shut it down. So what I set out to do was to do it exactly like her. I mean timing wise, run wise, range wise — as well as singing it in her key. To me that was the best way to pay homage, to show respect and to celebrate Aretha Franklin. She is truly the Queen of Soul.

Rebirth of Soul is available digitally for purchase and streaming now. Packed with 10 amazing covers, including Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, this incredible body of work is definitely a collectors item.

Make sure to follow Syleena Johnson on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, follow Sister Circle TV on all social media platforms.