INTERVIEW: Bridget Kelly Talks Biggest Misconception, ‘Summer of 17’ EP & Plans For Debut Album


Bridget Kelly is a go-getter. She has a clear vision of where she wants to take her brand. After being signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation for six years, she decided it was best to embark on a new journey. In 2014, she announced her departure from the label.

“It’s like going through a breakup or a divorce,” says Kelly on the emotional impact of leaving Roc Nation. “I think when you devote six years of your life to something and to other people, it’s terrifying to leave that situation behind and try to and rebuild something from the ground up again.”

She continues, “It took a toll on me for a couple of months. I really didn’t what the next step was going to be but I definitely decided that my heart is still in music and I had to be true to myself.”

While it’s only been a year since Kelly left Roc Nation, she hasn’t wasted any time. She recently dropped her new EP, Summer of 17, and is hard at work on her debut studio album.

Rated R&B caught up with Kelly ahead of her tour stop in Washington, D.C. to get the scoop on her Roc Nation departure, her life as an independent artist, her concept behind Summer of 17, the biggest misconception about her and more.

RATED R&B: What did you learn most from leaving that situation?

BRIDGET KELLY: It’s really important to do your research and trust yourself with whatever decision you’re going to make. I relied on a lot of other people to do everything for me. I didn’t do a lot of the research for myself. My team and I at the time didn’t really know how to move or what relationships to really build off of. I was trying to adhere to somebody else’s standards.

RATED R&B: So, how has life been for you as an indie artist?

BRIDGET KELLY: It’s had its ups and downs for sure. [Since] I have a firm grasp of who I am as an artist and who I am as a person,  there’s been a weight lifted off my shoulders. Now when I approach some situations, I have some free creative control. I can do whatever I want. I can say whatever I want. The music can sound however I feel it’s supposed to sound. There’s also a lot of pressure that comes with that, though. So if the ship sinks, then it’s on me. I can’t point the finger and blame anybody else. So there’s definitely a lot of pressure that I put on myself to make sure I am making good music and continuing to build my brand consistently. It’s a lot of fun because we’re doing what we love and we’re doing it our way but of course it’s difficult to not have that co-sign behind you.

RATED R&B: Speaking of branding, what’s the biggest misconception about Bridget Kelly?

BRIDGET KELLY: The biggest misconception is that I am this love-scorned, endlessly heartbroken singer [laughs]. I love writing about love and singing songs about it, but I do think I am a lot more happy-go-lucky as a person. I try not to take things too seriously. There’s other aspects of my personality that haven’t been showcased enough in my music. I am a tomboy. I like to watch football on Sunday’s and drink beer and have fun. I like to go bowling and watch movies. I’m a weirdo. I love watching Animal Planet on the weekends. All of that stuff gets lost in the shuffle where music is concerned but I am excited about the next phase of my career. I’ll be able to showcase a lot more of that.

RATED R&B: Before we move forward, I’ve got to know who’s your favorite football team?

BRIDGET KELLY: The New York Giants without any doubt.


RATED R&B: So tell us about your new EP Summer of 17. What’s the meaning behind the title?

Summer of 17 is nostalgic for me because when I was 17 everybody was frantically preparing to be an adult and making decisions about college and stepping out on their own for the first time. I was just not interested. I was just like, “Listen the world is not going to end if we don’t all go away to college and make something of ourselves in the next 18 months.”

Now, I’m 29 and all the girls I grew up with are either married or are engaged. They’re planning their lives and building their homes and families. I’m still out here at Happy Hour on a Wednesday [laughs]. I just have a different perspective of what I want my life to be. I think my purpose is different. Lately, of course, I’ve been going against the grain. I’m independent. I’m doing music that sounds different than before, and I’m doing things a little less predictably. I think that’s kind of what’s Summer of 17 is all about. It’s about finding yourself. It’s about finding new love and being excited. It’s about having fun and not taking your life too seriously.

RATED R&B: When you decided to step outside of your box, did you feel any type of nervousness?

BRIDGET KELLY: Absolutely! But I’ll be honest, I don’t think I had ever fit in that box. I can’t say really say the feeling was different for me. Because I’m a New York girl, because I’m mixed raced, because I look a certain way — I’m curvy — I was automatically expected to fit into the traditional R&B box, which is the K. Michelle’s and the Mary J. Blige’s. I feel like that’s not the essence of who I am as an artist. As a woman, of course, I love their music. I’m a huge fan but I think as an artist, that wasn’t necessarily what I was trying to reach.

I think now it’s still scary because you don’t know who is going to accept you or who’s going to vibe. Even reading fans’ comments on Twitter, they were kind of like “Damn, we were hoping for something like the project you put out before,” which was very R&B — which is okay. I don’t think Cut to…Bridget Kelly was any less of who I am but I definitely think there’s multiple facets that have yet to be revealed. Summer of 17 was the first experiment. It was my first independent project I put out. I think it was a testament to I’m not you’re everyday R&B artist. I think I still am an R&B artist. I’m just taking on a different sound. I’m creating my own lane.

RATED R&B: Where are you with your debut album? What sound are you going for?

BRIDGET KELLY: I’m halfway done. I started it last year. It’s a mixture of things. It’s got a soulful/pop sound. I’ve always said if I could combine two artists to say “this is what my music sounds like,” it would be Pink and Alicia Keys. That’s really the vibe that I’ve always tried to go for. I think that’s what my album is going to embody. There’s going to be some rock/guitar songs on there. There’s going to be some heavy bass songs. There’s going to be sexy, emo R&B vibes. Overall, I think that people are going to love it. It’s called All or Nothing. It’s going to be about situations where it was all of me and I was invested. I was in love and I was happy. There’s going to be moments where I felt like I had nothing and I’m having to rebuild myself — dark moments. This album is going to be my best work yet.

Download Summer of 17 on iTunes now! Also, follow Bridget Kelly on Instagram (@iambridgetkelly) & Twitter (@iambridgetkelly).

Keithan is the founder/editor-in-chief of Rated R&B

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Interview: Tiara Thomas Talks ‘FWMM’ EP and Working with H.E.R.

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.

retired my pants after wearing them for 2 weeks, we had a good run

A post shared by Tiara Thomas♕ (@tiara_thomas) on

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.

Anything from your Dear Sallie Mae EP?

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.

Follow Tiara Thomas on Instagram at @Tiara_Thomas

Bridget Kelly Unwraps Cover Art for ‘Reality Bites’ and Shares New Song ‘Something’ feat. Chaz French

Bridget Kelly has unveiled the cover for her debut album, Reality Bites, which arrives on April 27. The cover features Kelly posing behind a list of cursive words: truth, sex, relationships, romance.

The New York native also shares the official tracklist. The album consists of 13 tracks with features from Ro James, Jordan Bratton and Chaz French. It also includes previously released songs “Sedated” and “Happy for Me,” which was released in October 2017.

In addition to the album cover and tracklist, Kelly releases “Something” featuring Chaz French, a mellow tune to hold us over until Friday.

Reality Bites Track List

1. Little Did You Know
2. Move My Body
3. Should’ve Been You
4. Something (feat. Chaz French)
5. In the Grey
6. Love You From a Distance (feat. Ro James)
7. If I Could
8. Need a Love
9. Pipe Dreams
10. Sedated
11. No Apologies
12. To You (feat. Jordan Bratton)
13. Happy for Me

Listen to “Something” below.

How Pleasure P Found Strength Through Pain

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Pretty Ricky without mentioning Pleasure P. As the only vocalist, he naturally stood out with his alluring voice that brought a grown and sexy feel to the provocative R&B/hip-hop group’s sound. The Miami-based group made an impressive debut in 2005, scoring two Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 — “Grind on Me” (No. 7) and “Your Body” (No. 12) — from their gold-selling debut album, Bluestars.

The group saw even more success with their sophomore album, Late Night Special, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2007. The LP featured their top 20 hit “On the Hotline” (No. 12), which was certified platinum just five months after its release. The mid-tempo track, which samples The Isley Brothers’ hit “Between the Sheets,” also peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Ringtones chart — yes, back when people actually purchased ringtones for their phones. Whew, what a time!

Despite all the success Pretty Ricky was having at the time, there were issues behind the scenes, which resulted in Pleasure P exiting the group. In a later interview with VladTV, he explained he left the group because Joseph “Blue” Smith, head of Bluestar Entertainment, allegedly stole millions of dollars from the group. “He was controlling,” Pleasure P said in a 2015 interview. “He stole everybody’s money including his own son’s money. And I just wasn’t happy there.”

Pleasure P’s abrupt exit was certainly a gamble at the time but it ended up working out his favor — well, sort of. His debut album The Introduction of Marcus Cooper (2009) debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It earned him three Grammy nominations, including Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (“Under”) and Best R&B Song (“Under”).

Pleasure P’s winning train began to derail in late 2009 when he was hit with child molestation allegations, which he tells Rated R&B are “one-hundred percent false.” He adds,“The reason why I haven’t released an album since 2009 [is because of a] child molestation rumor put out by some people who I know who was just jealous of me because I was number one. I lost everything.”

In 2012, he attempted to rebrand by using his birth name as his stage name (Marcus Cooper) and put his past behind him. He signed with Swagga Entertainment/eOne Music where he released — what was supposed to be —  a comeback single called “I Love Girls” featuring Tyga, who was in his prime with hits like “Rack City” and “Faded.” The two met while on tour. “We had a cool relationship,” Pleasure P says. “He was in the “Boyfriend #2” video when he wasn’t shit, you know what I’m saying?”

Pleasure P adds, “[Tyga] told me to put out the record, so I told my label to put out the record since he was on board. My record label put out the record and serviced it to radio. They spent some money on radio. It’s time to do the video, Tyga says he can’t do the video.” Pleasure P says Tyga’s excuse for not being able to do the video was because he had just “did a song with Chris [Brown].” However, he believes it was another reason why Tyga backed out. “It was really because of the rumors,” he speculates. “I understand why, but I don’t at the same time because if somebody tells you something about somebody and you don’t talk to them personally and they’re supposed to be your friend, I look at that totally different. He put me in a fucked up situation with my label and the album never came out.”

Over the years, Pleasure P has released one-off singles and a mixtape — but nothing more than that. Now, he is ready to make an even stronger comeback. In March, he released “‘You Changed” as the lead single from his upcoming album that is slated to drop later this year.

In our interview with Pleasure P, the singer opens up about his trials and tribulations, his upcoming album, reuniting with Pretty Ricky and more.

What’s the story behind your new single “You Changed”?

Tank and J. Valentine flew to Miami to see me because I recently did a show with Tank and I was like, “We gotta get back in [the studio]” because Tank is responsible for “Under” and “Gotta Have You” from The Introduction of Marcus Cooper album. He flies in and he listens to every record. I didn’t play him “You Changed” first. I played the songs I thought would be the single. When he heard “You Changed,” he was like, “That’s the one and I’m gonna tell you why.” The reason why he said that is because it’s very emotional and it’s something that I went through personally. I thought about it. I was like, “Anybody can make a typical bedroom song but this song is very personal because this is stuff I actually went through.”

What happened in your personal life that inspired the song?

When I was in a relationship, I was on the giving end and she was on the receiving end. It was just a one-sided relationship. After a while, it was like — I had to get the fuck out this relationship because this person isn’t going to change based on how she was raised.

Do you have a title for your new album?

Yes, it’s called Pain.

Are you still in pain from the past?

I’m restored now. This is just shit I’m getting out. I think I’ll be fully restored when I’m back to where I should be in terms of the R&B world. It was taken away from me on some fuck-shit because people were jealous of me because I was winning at the time and they weren’t winning. I feel like I deserve my spot because I’ve always delivered good music and to this day what am I doing? You’ve heard “You Changed.” I’m giving them fucking good music. I don’t sound like anybody. Ain’t nobody going to mistake me for sounding like anybody. [Some people may say], “Oh he kinda whiny. He this, he that.” That’s my style. That’s what took me to the Grammys. I don’t got to be a churchy singer and do all these runs. I didn’t grow up in the church. I express myself the way I know how.

With everything you’ve experienced in the past, do you find it hard to open up or allow people to get close to you?

No, I don’t because I actually got a sixth sense for the bullshit. Once I see the ways of a person, I can tell if they’re good or bad. I rather have a person around me that I know what they’re trying to do versus a person I don’t know what they’re trying to do. If I know you’re a thief, I know not to leave my money around you. Everybody has their ways, it’s just balancing your life out with knowing how to deal with each individual.

It’s been nine years since your debut album, do you feel any pressure to live up to the success of it?

If you look at nine years ago and what I’ve been through, of course, I don’t feel any pressure because I’m so much better. I’m wiser. I sing better. I hear music better.


Are there any collabs on the album?

The only feature I have on the album as of now is Flo Rida. That’s like my best friend in the whole wide world. The reason why I don’t rely on features too tough is because of the Tyga situation and another artist who did the same thing to me — didn’t shoot the video with the second label. When you look at the Introduction to Marcus Cooper album, the only person featured is Yung Joc. I know he’s a good performer, rapper and a good guy. I’ve been to his house he’s been to my house. He’s not going to stand me up for some video or some Hollywood shit.

A Pretty Ricky reunion album has been teased for a few years but we haven’t heard many details surrounding it. What’s the status of that project?

The Pretty Ricky album is done. We haven’t put it out yet because we’re doing a “Scream Reunion Tour” for everybody who was on the “Scream Tour.” We’re going to do it in July. We’re going to put the final Pretty Ricky album out around the tour.

What was your experience working on that project with the other guys from Pretty Ricky?

We’re all grown now and we put a lot of personal shit to the side. Rico Love is executive producing it. I would do my part and call whoever in to do their part. It’s just kind of been like that. Spectacular is in LA now and he has a social media marketing company that monetizes Facebook and different things like that. With him being busy with his business and I’m busy doing my album and working on other people’s shit and building my new label, it’s kind of hard for all of us to be in the same room together.

Who are some newer artists you’re checking out or surprised you’re listening to?

I be in the studio so much that I don’t really realize what’s going on [Laughs]. I listen to Kodak Black, Migos, Khalid and 6LACK. Tank was putting me on H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar.

Follow Pleasure P on Instagram @PleasureP

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