Romance may be the bread and butter of modern R&B, but one thing the pop airwaves could always use more of is good relationship advice, especially when it’s delivered by a strong female voice. Though the lead single off Destiny’s Child alumnus LeToya Luckett‘s ‘06 solo debut found her “Torn” over the decision of leaving a man who wasn’t living up to her expectations, it seems that the singer’s developed a new level of confidence in the three years since her self-titled LP hit stores—in the wake of a label merge that delayed her return to the spotlight, LeToya’s ready to reemerge as an assertive Lady Love, willing to cut through the drama and say “Not Anymore.”
This anthemic lead single set the tone for a sophomore album that sees LeToya taking a more central role in the songwriting process, and stepping outside the box to address topics she hadn’t had the guts to tackle on her debut. Set to drop June 23rd via Capitol Records, Lady Love will represent the fruits of three years of artistic evolution, as well as an unprecedented level of creative control.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” LeToya steps into the Booth to discuss the modern conveniences she couldn’t live without, her commitment to choosing songs she and her audience can relate to (even if they were written for a male vocalist), and what today’s young women simply need to know about men and dating.
Listen to the Interview
LeToya Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Houston singer who has come a long way since her humble beginning as an original member of Destiny’s Child. Preparing for the summer release of her sophomore solo album, Lady Love, please welcome LeToya—how are you?
LeToya: Hey, what’s goin’ on, DJ Z?
DJ Booth: Not much; you’re just giving me a call, we’re spending our afternoon together— I like that.
LeToya: [laughs] Yes, yes, yes!
DJ Booth: Your self-titled solo debut was released in July of ‘06, which will, roughly, be three years before this new album hits store shelves and digital retailers this summer. Now, some artists, they try to bang ‘em out every year; others are far more patient. Did you plan to wait this long in between projects, or was it circumstantial?
LeToya: It was circumstantial. There were some politics—there was actually a merge between Capitol Records and Virgin Records, and I kind of got caught in the midst of that. So things happened—you can’t control ‘em, you can’t do anything but move forward, and that’s exactly what I did. I [acted in] a stage play called Rumors, and then, soon after that, I continued to work on my project. We’d already started recording some of the records for the album, so I didn’t stop that; I stayed in the studio, grindin’ it out.
DJ Booth: Was that difficult, to start and stop the process of recording a new album?
LeToya: Absolutely. [laughs] In all honesty, yes, ‘cause you get into that groove, that vibe. It gets frustrating but hey, you know what? You’ve gotta roll with the punches. And that’s what I did.
DJ Booth: The climate of the music industry, Letoya, was far different in ‘06 than it is today, as we both know. For example, your debut was certified Platinum within six months of its release, and last year there was only a handful of albums that accomplished this tremendous feat. How difficult is it for you to adjust expectations based on what is really out of control—that is, the climate of this industry?
LeToya: It is what it is. You just pray for the best. And the key word you said is “control;” once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. Once it’s out there, it’s up to the fans and the ones that support you to go out and have as much passion for your material as you do. I think I have some of the greatest fans—really, seriously—and the most patient fans, because, even through the merge and everything, even after the Destiny’s Child situation, they’ve always rolled with me, they’ve always been by my side, and I love that. So hopefully I’ll get some new fans with this brand new album, and hopefully people will go out and support it.
DJ Booth: I have a feeling they will; you have nothing to worry about.
DJ Booth: In a previous interview that you did, in regard to the new album, Lady Love, you were reported as saying, “I’m talking about some things on this new album which I didn’t have the guts to say the first time around.” So, two-part question: one, what, specifically, did you hold back from talking about, and, two, what changed this time around?
LeToya: A lot changed! I think, with the first album, I was just putting my foot in the water, and discovering myself as a brand new solo artist, because I was so used to bein’ in a group situation. [It’s] a little scary, going in the studio by yourself. I was so comfortable in the group situation. I think that I was kind of keeping myself in a box with the first album, even though I love my first album, I love LeToya. I was surprising myself with every record I did on the last album, and with this album it’s just a whole new swagger; I’m definitely stepping outside of that box and trying different things. I’m a lot more gutsy on this album than I was before. And [as far as] saying things I wouldn’t have had the guts to say before… I’m a shy person. If you get to know me, I’m very, very shy, until I know you.
DJ Booth: I’m having a hard time believing that you are at all shy.
LeToya: Oh, I’m shy, I promise you!
DJ Booth: I don’t know, you’re doing a great job of pretending not to be shy on this interview, so thank you for that.
LeToya: Oh, no problem!
DJ Booth: [laughs] One of the biggest differences between the two albums is the amount of writing that you did this time around. So, for you, what is the key distinction between singing a record that’s provided to you by another songwriter and then singing a record that you know that you had your hand in, literally.
LeToya: Well, first and foremost, when it comes to a record that somebody else writes for me, when the producer first plays me the record, if I can’t relate to it, if I’m not passionate about it, if it has a great beat but crazy, corny lyrics, I’m not singing it, because I wanna make music that people can relate to, that people can go to, that can be the soundtrack to their situation or something that they’re going through in a relationship at that time. I don’t make music just to make music, know what I mean?
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Have you been delivered a record, thought that it was something you were passionate about, got into the studio, sang it, and then realized, “You know what? This just isn’t me—I was wrong.”
LeToya: Yes, yes.
DJ Booth: How often would you say that something like this happens?
LeToya: Not too often. You know, there are songs that are in the wrong key. I’ve walked into the studio and picked a song that was written for a guy—as a matter of fact, there’s a song on my album called “Drained,” and it was written for a guy, and I was like, “You know what? Rarely do girls ever say they’re sorry. Rarely do girls ever say, ‘This is my fault, it might have been my fault that we broke up.’”
DJ Booth: Can you say that one more time?
DJ Booth: Tell that to everybody one more time, what you just said.
LeToya: You know, sometimes, we don’t say we’re sorry!
DJ Booth: Yes! You’re right! Thank you for saying that!
LeToya: We don’t say we’re sorry, and because I know I’m not a perfect person, and I’ve messed up in a relationship before—I haven’t cheated, but, you know, not made the right decisions.
DJ Booth: We all make mistakes.
LeToya: No, I make mistakes. In no way am I a perfect person. You know, this song was like, “I want to sing this because I can relate to this, and I know a lot of other women can, and I know guys can appreciate it.”
DJ Booth: Well, I’m glad that you can pull that type of song off, and I will say I know without a shadow of a doubt there are going to be thousands of men, who, after they hear this song, are going to get the mp3, go straight to their female, and say, “Sit down, I have something I’d like you to listen to.” And I think it might make a difference in quite a few relationships, as a matter of fact.
LeToya: I think it’s touching you in a soft spot right now, ‘cause you were like, “Repeat that!”
DJ Booth: I wanted to make clear what you said, because I find it hard to believe that many females would admit that, and here you are doing it in an interview. So, rumor has it you don’t want it anymore—is that correct?
LeToya: I don’t want it anymore; no more drama, we’re on to the next. “Not Anymore,” my first single, written by Ne-Yo.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about it. It’s making its ascent up the urban charts. Obviously the first single off an album, for any artist, is so key—what led you and your team to choose “Not Anymore” as the lead single?
LeToya: I think for me it was the message behind it. A lot of times, in relationships—and this is not just for women, it’s for men and women—we get comfortable; we’re like, “You know what? I don’t feel like goin’ through getting to know somebody else, ugh…” and we end up settling, even though the person might not be right for us, they might be puttin’ us down, they might be disrespectful, not appreciating us. You’ve gotta move on. It could be better. Now, I know some people in relationships that could have a wonderful person in front of them, but they’re never satisfied, and they move all over the place—that’s not what this song is about. [laughs] This song is about being in a relationship where you’re just getting put down every day, and saying, “You know what? I don’t want it anymore. No more drama. I’m sick of being put down, I’m sick of being in this bad situation, I’m outta here!”
DJ Booth: It’s interesting that you should say that. There’s a common expression, “Some things are easier said than done.” Lots of women, I’m sure, tell themselves and the people around them that they’re not gonna put themselves through these types of relationships again, but yet it happens. So, for all the young women who are listening to our interview, let’s play “Dr. Luckett” for a second—what are some of your words of wisdom, beyond this song, that could convince a young lady that she does not need to put herself through something like this again.
LeToya: I think that, especially as a young woman, because women are so emotional, we tend to sacrifice ourselves in relationships. We’re so busy trying to please that person, making sure that they’re happy, that we make ourselves unhappy, we forget who we are as individuals, and we lose our independence. That’s something that’s key: when a person meets you, they normally meet you as an independent individual, and you can’t lose that—you have to be the person that they fell in love with, and you have to love yourself first. If you’re not gonna respect yourself, don’t expect somebody else to respect you. And a guy is only going to do what you allow him to do, so if you stay there and put up with it, you can’t be mad at yourself.
DJ Booth: I think we need to get you a publishing deal. I know you’re already doing music and film, but I smell a book deal in the air—do you smell that?
LeToya: [laughs] love that! Oh, last thing: do not try and change a man—it’s not gonna happen!
DJ Booth: I’m absolutely amazed. Here you are, talking to a guy, and you just said women need to tell everybody that they’re sorry more often, and that they know right off the bat that men won’t change. I heard you’re single—I mean, do you wanna get together for dinner or something sometime?
LeToya: [laughs harder] You wanna go on a first date?
DJ Booth: We might need to talk a few more times, maybe send some tweets back and forth, but we’ll have to make something happen. Let’s talk about the video for “Not Anymore;” you set it back in the year 1961, and, as we both know, technology was quite different 48 years ago. I’m not sure I could live without the modern conveniences of cell phones, Email, or DVR. What do you think you couldn’t live without, if you had to go back 48 years?
LeToya: Oh my God… you said it all. I couldn’t live without a flat iron. I can’t live without flat irons, Blackberry cell phones, laptops.
DJ Booth: It’s amazing—we never had any of these things in the past, and now that we have them it’s impossible to think of a life without them.
LeToya: Do you freak out when you lose your cell phone? ‘Cause I do!
DJ Booth: If I leave the house and I don’t have my cell phone with me, I’ve gotta go back, I’ve gotta get it.
LeToya: Yeah, it’s like you’re disconnected.
DJ Booth: Frankly, if you were out and you didn’t have your cell phone, I don’t know of anywhere that even has pay phones anymore, so you would be just sh*t out of luck!
DJ Booth: If someone has not heard from you, or of your new stuff since last time you were out as a solo artist, give them a reason, come this June, why they need to reinvest their time and their hard-earned money in all that you have to offer.
LeToya: Oh, that’s like a 30-minute conversation… I’ll try to narrow it down.
DJ Booth: Yeah, give me the abridged version.
LeToya: [laughs] I’ll give you the quick version: it has a lot of great music, it has a lot of songs that you can relate to. And I’m one of those people that, if I’m going through a situation in a relationship, it’s a song that can get me through that, it’s a song that I go back to. And this album holds a lot of those records.
DJ Booth: Well, let me tell you, “Torn” no more, you are certainly headed in the right direction, and I’m excited for you. Give everybody a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more about you.
LeToya: Okay, you can check out letoyaonline.com for all of your updates, anything you wanna know. You can also Twitter me; it’s @letoya/ladylove. As you know, I update every five, ten minutes.
DJ Booth: Yes, you do.
LeToya: [laughs] So many things, so many things… but check out letoyaonline.com.
DJ Booth: Great. Well, if they don’t get their fill at all of your sites, they can certainly find out more about you at DJBooth.net. Letoya, thank you so much for taking the time to join me inside the DJ Booth. It’s been a pleasure.
LeToya: Thank you so much.
Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.