EXCLUSIVE: Faith Evans Calls New Missy Elliott Collaboration ‘A Banger,’ Plays ‘First & Last’ Game
Literally days after the New Year started, R&B soul artist Faith Evans shared the inaugural details on her sixth studio album titled “Incomparable.” To get her faithful fans even more excited about the upcoming project, she released a short video teaser to remind her followers and her doubters about her accomplishments over the last 15 years.
In a recent interview with Rated RnB, the “First Lady” revealed a few details on what fans can expect from the upcoming project in a game called “First & Last.”
We asked what’s the first song she recorded on her debut album and the last song she recorded on her new album? “It might be ‘No Other Love,’ which is actually the first song after the intro,” answered Evans to part one of the question. “And the last song on this new album that I did vocals on was I believe the song with Missy [Elliott] and Sharaya [J] called “I Deserve It.”
When asked was their collaboration an uptempo or mid-tempo record, Evans quickly declared, “It’s a banger..It’s just a banger,” laughs Evans. “It’s the perfect embodiment of being able to still maintain what people know you for and the era that you’re from — but not sound dated. That’s the best way I can put it, which is what I try do anyway.”
Evans continued to elaborate on the new track between Elliott and her new artist, “When I first sent Missy the record, she was like, ‘I don’t know how to attack it,’ and I’m like ‘Girl bye’, ” laughs Evans. “Like, Missy do what you do. But she tried two other songs and went back to that one like, ‘I like this one’ which is what I was talking about in the first place.”
The “Tru Love” diva called “I Deserve It” a “feel good” record. “It states my claim from the gate, which is I’m not perfect but I’m worth it. You ain’t gotta be the best to roll with me but you gotta hold me down – – the way I deserve.”
Returning back to our game of “First & Last,” Evans told us the first and last album she bought.”The first album I ever bought was I’m pretty dang sure The Clark Sisters “Conqueror” album,” — if not, something like Thomas Whitfield. It was definitely something gospel,” said Evans. “The last album I bought was on iTunes and it was Guy, “The Future.” ”
Since the death anniversary of Evans’ ex-husband, the Notorious B.I.G. recently passed, we asked what does she remember about their first and last conversation? “[First conversation] was at a photo shoot where we met, ” said Evans. “I was looking at something pictures of mines that I got developed and he sat at the table and wanted to see my pictures. He asked where I was from, was this my daughter because he was looking at some personal pictures of mine.”
Then spoke on the last conversation, “I’m pretty sure it ended up with us hanging up on each other and it was about me bringing CJ (their son) to L.A. during the weekend we were out there…before he got murdered.”
Be sure to check back to read part-two of our chat with Faith Evans where she talked more about the new album, Mary J. Blige’s “My Life” album, and “R&B Divas: Atlanta.”
It’s hard to believe BJ The Chicago Kid released his major label debut album, In My Mind, just two years ago. Looking back, the Motown Records artist had an impressive debut era. He went on a headlining world tour, earned three Grammy nominations — including “Best R&B Performance,” “Best Traditional R&B Performance,” and “Best R&B Album” — and racked up over 75 million streams on Spotify alone.
In January, he released a vulnerable track called “I’m Sorry” as a treat to his fans. “It’s a song that’s pathetically R&B,” BJ explains to Rated R&B. “I feel like it’s R&B at its most essential feeling,” he continues. “R&B is made to say the things that you can’t or don’t have the balls to say. It’s like you can’t figure out the words to say but somehow this writer and this artist makes this song say exactly how you feel. That’s a part of my job as an R&B singer.”
BJ most certainly doesn’t have an issue with tapping into his feelings. Earlier this month, he dropped three new songs collectively titled as The Opening Ceremony. The lyrically-rich project consists of “Going Once, Going Twice,” “Nothing into Something” and “Rather Be With You.” The songs are just a taste of what fans can expect on his next album that is slated to release later this year.
While fans get acclimated with his three new tracks, the R&B champion teamed with his colleague Ro James for their co-headlining The R&B Tour. Rated R&B caught up with BJ at his tour stop in Washington, D.C. In our interview, he dishes on The Opening Ceremony, his upcoming album, his fight for R&B and more.
If you could add one more artist to The R&B Tour, who would it be?
It would definitely be Luke James. That’s our brother. He’s going to pop up at one of these shows, I’m not going to say which one, but he’s going to pop out and have some fun with us.
What inspired the songs on The Opening Ceremony?
On “Going Once, Going Twice,” I was really eliminating some things in my life that I didn’t really need. I wasn’t necessarily auctioning things off but I thought it was a cool way of having a song in that type of phrasing…describing how auctioneers get rid of things.
“Nothing Into Something” is a song that says you were here with me at the start and right now having what we have is a beautiful thing. It’s about seeing the growth and evolution of our love.
“Rather Be With You” simply describes the feeling with her is like no other. It’s the one place you’d rather be versus anywhere.
Are these three songs tied to your upcoming album in any way?
Absolutely. This is not an EP. To let the secret out the bag, a lot of people put EPs out to see what songs stick with the people. These three songs are on my album.
What can you tell us about the album?
The album is incredible. I’ve grown. I’ve evolved. Life has evolved for me. I’ve grown and seen the world with my label Motown Records. It’s been an incredible asset to add to the music. I just can’t wait to put it out the right way.
Is there a title?
I can’t say yet.
Who are some producers you worked with?
Cool and Dre, Danja, Jarius Mozee, Tubb Young and Karriem Riggins.
The title of Opening Ceremony and its artwork seem to be inspired by the Olympics. Does the album play on that theme?
Everything I do is huge and worldwide. My first tour was a world tour. So, everything I do begins with the world — not just my community, not just my neighborhood, not just to the people I’ve met but it’s to the world.
You recently said you’re “fighting for R&B, not trying to change it, just push it.” What elements of R&B are you trying to preserve for the masses?
I’m trying to preserve very essence. Our forefathers and our foremothers have laid down such an awesome pedigree of what we should follow. I think it’s up to us to take the responsibility to evolve it, be ourselves and really take it to another level — be creative. Keep the people involved…slow song, fast song, it doesn’t matter. It’s how life has evolved away from me and has given us other opportunities and lanes to help it grow and express ourselves so we should use that.
Speaking of evolving, how would you say you’ve evolved since In My Mind?
Life evolving, my family evolving, my music evolving, my producers evolving…working with producers I’ve never worked with before that I’ve always idolized.
Justin Love’s passion for singing dates back to the age four. “I got started because my mom is a vocalist,” he reveals to Rated R&B. “She’s nobody big but she just sang around the house. My whole family always knew to never pick up on their birthday because she would leave a voicemail singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ Growing up, watching her do that, made me want to do the same thing.”
Love’s “Happy Birthday” performances would eventually evolve into him becoming a singer, songwriter and producer. The New Jersey native’s work has been praised by Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri and others. He recently co-wrote H.E.R.’s hit single “Focus,” which has over 25 million streams on Spotify.
The 22-year-old now plans to ‘focus’ more on his own music this year with his new EP, When Love Returns. In our interview with Love, he dishes on working with H.E.R. his new single “Models” and forthcoming project.
You co-wrote “Focus” with H.E.R. How did that come about and what was your experience working with her?
She had came to one of my shows earlier in my career and her management actually stopped me when I was walking in the city one day and told me that she was upstairs in the studio. He was like, “Yo. Come check her out. I think you guys will vibe well together.” I’m a spontaneous person so I took my spontaneous ass right upstairs. We caught a vibe real quick. We set up another studio session and we wrote like two or three songs that day. It was just dope. The vibe with her is just very quick and very powerful. We knew that anything we wrote down and put out was going to be something.
You just dropped two songs — “The Weekend” and “Models.” What inspired those records?
“The Weekend” — I hit a point in my life where I was just dealing with women that would take care of me. That song is inspired by that stage of my life where I had a suga mama or two just taking care of whatever I needed.
“Models” — We were on set shooting a video for “Stripper Girl” in LA. Me and my boy Nate were looking at these models. We were like, “Damn. They look good as hell.” He was like, “Pretty soon we’re only going to be fucking with model bitches and you need to make a song about that.”
Tell us about your project When Love Returns. What stories are you trying to tell?
My fan base has been waiting for me to drop material for a long time. When Love Returns is literally the return of love. I haven’t dropped material in a good two or three years because of a situation I was in. I was legally tied to working with other people I didn’t want to work with. I couldn’t blatantly say that to my fans, though. I could only hint that towards them at least at that time. Now, I can say whatever I want. I was just legally bound to people. When Love Returns is just the return of me showing the world that I’ve been working and I’m here to stay. I’m going to give a bunch of different vibes. They’re going to get a little iSingHipHop, which is my hip hop-singing shit.
Who is iSingHipHop vs Justin Love?
iSingHipHop is my bread and butter. I’m not a rapper but you know there’s rap singers these days. I can sing bars. iSingHipHop is me singing bars and Justin Love is my mature R&B side.
Are there any collaborations on the project?
No collaborations on the project. If there’s anybody I give credit to I really genuinely appreciate all of the producers that were a part of this project .
Around this time five years ago, Tiara Thomas could be heard on the hook of Wale’s single “Bad.” The melodic track, which peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, would become Thomas’ stepping stone into the mainstream world. Although her past success with “Bad” is part of her foundation, it doesn’t necessarily define who she is as an artist today.
Thomas has spent the last few years building up her fan base with her own music. Last year, she released an acoustic-driven EP titled Don’t Mention My Name and went on an international tour with rising star H.E.R. She followed-up last month with another EP called FWMM (Fucking With My Mind).
Rated R&B caught up with Thomas to chat about her FWMM, working with H.E.R. and her headlining tour.
Check out our interview with Tiara Thomas below.
What were you thinking about when you created FWMM?
I live in my own head a lot. Sometimes I feel like — not in a crazy bitch way — but it’s like the world in my head is the reality and the outside is not reality. So I just talked about a lot of things on this project like relationships, sex, self-discovery and my journey… it’s a collection of these things that are fucking with my mind.
Do you think by being in your own mind, you kind of get in your own way sometimes?
I definitely think so but in my music I’m not necessarily giving you the solution. Sometimes I’m just telling you the story, like, “Yo, this is how I feel and this is what happened.” Everybody gets in their own mind and their own way. Sometimes all you got is your own head, your own boss, you know? Sometimes I love it, even if it’s bad. I don’t know. I can’t explain that. I guess it’s like, for instance, I’ve been in bad relationships before — like, bad ass relationships — and when I got out of them, it hurt really bad but I always know I’m going to be okay. That’s something that I learned about my life. Some people would be like, “I’m going to hang out with my girls,” “I’m going to go party” or “I’m going to go fuck some random person” but I’d rather almost think about it for a little bit. It’s inspiring to me. That sounds bad but it’s true [laughs].
Your FWMM EP and your Don’t Mention My Name EP have a similar cover art. How are these projects connected?
Well, I think these projects go together content wise. It’s all like a statement. On Don’t Mention My Name, I’m talking about people I used to date or fuck around with. Fucking With My Mind is another statement. Maybe the next project cover art may be the front of my face, using the same artist, and another statement. I kind of like that theme. I like that image. I thought it was dope.
You have a few EPs under your belt now. When will you be ready for an album?
I really want to get the best of out an album. I feel the only way to do that, I have to almost build my fan base back up. I don’t want to hurry and drop an album when I don’t feel like it could be at its full potential. I’d rather keep building up my base, keep bringing awareness to the Tiara Thomas brand. I’m going to put out one more EP and hopefully an album after that.
Speaking of building up your fan base, one way you’ve been doing that is through touring. You just wrapped up your tour with H.E.R. What was that experience like?
It was so fun! It was the first time I left the country. Up until a month ago, I never left the country (besides Canada). That shit was tight. I remember the first night, I was in bed in my hotel in Manchester and I was just thinking like, “Damn I’m so far away from home.” I feel blessed to have been able to go out there with her. A lot of the shows were sold out and also I felt like I’ve been getting a lot better as a performer. I like being on the road. I’m trying to be on the road for the rest of the year.
You apparently had to retire an outfit on tour after two weeks?
Yes, it was longer than two weeks. I bought these pants at Urban Outfitters and, oh my gosh, they’re so fly. I wore them on the last day of tour. They were comfortable. I like to be comfy and I was like, “I’m not taking these pants off. People spend money on clothes, wear them once and don’t wear them no more.” I wore the pants for about three and a half weeks. I literally took them off to wash them a few times.I ended up going home to Indianapolis after tour and I wore the pants the whole time I was at home. My mom and dad were like, “Yo take those pants off.” I wore them to church when I was at home. I wore them to my grandma’s house. I wore them for my New Year’s show with H.E.R. I wore them for a while. Yeah, so they’re retired.
Speaking of H.E.R., you co-wrote “Avenue” on her project. What was that process like working on that song?
H.E.R. is like my little sis. I’ve known her for literally years. I’ve always had a working relationship with her. I have a couple songs with her. When she’s in LA and needs help in the studio, she’s like, “Yo T.” I just went to the studio that day — I remember I was in an extremely bad mood. Mother Nature got me that day. I was just pissed. I didn’t want to go in the studio, not because I didn’t want to work with her, but because I was just cranky as fuck. I went in there and they were playing a beat. I was just like, “Just turned down your avenue. I had to but I’m mad at you. You always say I gotta attitude.” She was like, “That’s tight.” I was like, “Go lay that down.” Sometimes I will get lucky in the studio and some things will come right to me immediately. That’s what happened with “Avenue.” I just started freestyling the song off the top of my head and then write the rest of it obviously. The first initial idea was that melody and those words and we just built based off of that. I think that was one of the last songs to make it to her Vol. 2 EP.
Are you writing for any other artists?
Sometimes I have songs that I be wanting to use but I realize that they don’t necessarily fit my sound so I’ll try to get it off on somebody else but I want to. I’d like to. I would honestly like to write some pop songs because that’s where the money at. I had a song that I was really excited about for Rihanna’s last album. It almost made it onto her album. I was so close but I’d definitely like to get one with Rihanna because I know what type of music she likes.
With your headlining tour getting ready to start. What’s one song you’re most excited about performing?
I think from my new project “Retro 1” because that seems to be a song that a lot of people like and it’s real vibey on stage. I’m excited to do some older stuff too because I know when people discover my EP they’re going to be able to go back and look at other projects too. I got some good tunes on my EP Up in Smoke. There’s a song called “Mary Jane” that’s really fun. “Bad” is always a fun song to do.
I don’t know. We’ll see. Dear Sallie Mae is probably my least favorite project that I put out because I was with Interscope and I kind of — you know, label things. You can definitely tell the difference between the music I made when I was signed to a label and the music from when I was not signed to a label. Let that speak for itself.