Teairra Mari Interview
|Label:||Division 1/Universal Motown|
|Next Project:||At That Point|
|Twitter:||Teairra Mari on Twitter|
|Website:||Teairra Mari's Website|
Achieving pop stardom is never a walk in the park, but the road to musical success can be especially rocky for those who enter the business as young adults. Thus, it’s understandable that, after a stint as teenage “Princess of the Roc,” Teairra Mari took a hiatus from the game to finish up high school without the added pressure of life in the spotlight. During her time away, though, the fans she earned with her self-titled debut album never stopped hoping for her return—now 21 years old, Mari is finally At That Point.
Back from her three-year break with a new sound and a new label home at Fo’Reel Entertainment and Warner Bros., the singer is preparing to showcase the full extent of her artistic growth with the summer release of her sophomore album. As we’ve seen on buzz single “Hunt 4 U” and its recently-released, Flo Rida-featuring follow-up, “Cause A Scene,” At That Point will introduce listeners to a Teairra Mari who, despite her more mature approach to the craft, still comes with the same pop appeal that made cuts like ‘05’s “Make Her Feel Good” chart-smashing hits.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Teairra Mari steps into the Booth to discuss her evolution as a musician and a woman, whether competition with Rihanna played into her dismissal from Def Jam, and what it really takes to make her “Cause A Scene.”
Listen to the Interview
Teairra Mari 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 Motown native who, after a short stint as the “Princess of the Roc,” is finally at that point. Preparing for the release of her long-due sophomore album, please welcome Teairra Mari—how are you?
Teairra: I’m great! How are you?
DJ Booth: I’m good. You’re currently doin’ a lot of promotions for the new album, which we will get into in a second. I would like to review, for everybody who’s thought, “Where has this girl been?” The debut dropped in ‘05 on Def Jam, by late ‘06 you’d split from the label, and two and half years later you’re back with a new label and about to release your new project. Did I miss anything, or is that pretty much all?
Teairra: That’s pretty much all. Of course, things happened in between that time. I went through a hard time, but I’m a resilient young woman, so I bounced back really easily. I’m working. Warner Bros. is a great place, for real. I’m happy, I’m blessed, and I’m excited.
DJ Booth: When you look back at your situation, do you feel like it all happened for a reason?
Teairra: Yes, definitely. I think it happened for me to grow, so I wouldn’t get comfortable and get stuck. I needed to grow as an artist and as a woman as well.
DJ Booth: Tea, rumors were cast on the Internet that your departure had a lot to do with the label deciding to heavily push your labelmate, Rihanna, instead of you. You’ve said in other interviews that you still are not really sure what happened that made that whole situation go south. Do you feel it was internal competition?
Teairra: Of course you have different people in your ear at the label all the time saying “I like you better,” and people saying the same, vice versa, with her, “I like you better.” People do that; they make it a competition. It was never a competition [between] me and Rihanna. We remained gracious to one another and we were just cool, but Def Jam put a lot of money into the album, and they didn’t recoup, so when it was let-go season, unfortunately, I was one of the ones that was let go.
DJ Booth: You’re gonna show them! [laughs]
Teairra: Yeah, I’m gonna just work my butt off and do what I have to do. That’s all I can do! That’s what I was brought up to do: I was raised to work hard. I was doing this before Def Jam—you know, I started as a young girl doing this, so Def Jam wasn’t my last stop, it was only a pit stop. I’m gonna keep it pushing.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. And if they checked their books, they’d also realize that Rihanna’s debut didn’t do so hot itself. But, moving on… the title of your new album is At That Point. Logically, the question is, what point are you at exactly?
Teairra: The point of no return, first of all. The point of being comfortable with myself with a woman. I’ve learned so much, I’ve been up and down, and finally I’m at a comfortable point with myself. I know who Teairra is as a woman and as an artist, and I know what I wanna do, so I’m at that point. When I first came out, I was still searching, still learning, and still trying to find myself; now I know what I want, and that’s what I’m gonna go after.
DJ Booth: You mentioned the word “comfortable.” Do you feel that while you were at your original label home you weren’t comfortable? Was it because you were still young and still learning, or was it something else?
Teairra: It was because I was still young and still learning; I knew nothing about the business, my mother knew nothing about the business. We were just thrown into it, but we were happy to be in the business—it’s what we always wanted. Honestly, it was because I was young, and I hadn’t had any experience. Now that I have that experience under my belt, I’m comfortable with who I am. And, like I said, I’m still learning things every day, and I plan on continuing to do that for the rest of my life, but I am comfortable in knowing what I know.
DJ Booth: I was told that, during the time [between releasing] the debut and now, you actually got the opportunity to go back to school and finish up high school. Was that difficult, for you to go back from shooting videos and hanging out with superstars, to taking math and science classes?
Teairra: No, it’s what I wanted to do. I went back to high school even before I got released from Def Jam. It’s what I’d always wanted: to go back to school and experience the prom and all the high-school glory.
DJ Booth: How was prom?
Teairra: Prom was very fun. The getting ready part was the most fun, with my girls; we all got ready together and took a lot of photos, and stuff like that.
DJ Booth: It’s a shame we didn’t know one another when I was in high school, ‘cause I could’ve used a much better prom date. I had an absolute dud.
Teairra: [laughs] Your prom date is gonna kill you!
DJ Booth: If my prom date is listening, that would be a miracle in and of itself.
Teairra: Oh, God! Sorry, prom date! [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] No, no, it’s okay—she’s gone with the wind. We’re going to go on to discussing both of the songs of that we featured recently at DJBooth.net, “Hunt 4 U” and “Cause a Scene.” Let’s talk about the buzz record, “Hunt 4 U.” It’s about a female who knows what she wants and goes after it. So, Tea, would that accurately describe the way that you pursue your potential mates?
Teairra: Yeah, but “Hunt 4 U” is a little deeper than that, actually; it’s about a female who’s in a relationship with a guy, and he starts to switch up on her, and she’s like, “Okay, this isn’t the guy that I met and fell in love with. Where is he at? I’m looking for him, I’m gonna hunt for him, ‘the sweet, incredible, irreplaceable you.’” Yeah, when I’m in love, and you may switch up, which men tend to do, then I would be on the “Hunt 4 U.” I’m not gonna hunt too long, though; if I can’t find you fast enough, it’s time to move on. [laughs]
DJ Booth: I hope all the guys are taking notes; I know I certainly am. You mentioned that guys are known to do that—would you agree, though, that females have the tendency to do that as well sometimes?
Teairra: Of course! Every human has the tendency to do that.
DJ Booth: Okay, just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a one-sided comment.
Teairra: Every human is capable of doing that, I should say.
DJ Booth: But you and I, we don’t do those things…
Teairra: No, I don’t do that; I keep it real all the way.
DJ Booth: Exactly! That’s the only way. [laughs] Your new single, “Cause a Scene,” is a club banger to end all club bangers, with the current king of the club banger. Teairra, when was the last time that you caused a scene?
Teairra: Whew! The last time that I caused a scene was probably in high school. Hopefully, I won’t have to go there again. It’s very high school to cause a scene for no reason, but the song is saying, “Don’t test me, because I will cause a scene.” If need be—only if need be. Other than that, I remain a woman.
DJ Booth: Okay, so the last time that you did cause a scene, what was it over?
Teairra: The last little scuffle that I had… [laughs] was over something with my friend—I’ve always got my friend’s back. She was into it with some chick, and I don’t even know what they were into it about, but I know that chaos broke out, and I saw my friend breaking out into the chaos, so I caused a scene right along with her, you know? I’m right there by her side.
DJ Booth: So, did the claws come out? Did you throw some blows, or did you kinda just get in the way of your friend?
Teairra: Oh no, I threw some things. I caused a scene! [laughs] The claws came out, I’ll keep it at that. I’m not gonna get too detailed, but the claws definitely came out.
DJ Booth: Considering your debut album and its follow-up will have been released four-plus years apart, what do you think is gonna be the most notable difference, if any, between these two projects?
Teairra: Well, for one, the maturity and the growth in my vocals, even the growth in my subject matter. I think those are the two main things that will stick out for people who have been following me since my first album: my vocals and the content.
DJ Booth: When you first arrived on the scene, you posed the question, “Are there any boys around who know how to make a girl feel good?” Are you still looking, and was your question ever answered?
Teairra: No, I’m not still looking. I just learned as I got older—like I told you, I have grown—to let it come to you. I’m not looking anymore. It’s good. If I find him, or if he comes, then he comes. But if not then, hey, I’ll keep it moving.
DJ Booth: The only difference is now it’s not boys anymore, it’s men, right?
Teairra: Right, men, exactly. [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] Right. I was informed that you are no longer a spokeswoman for Jean Addicts, but I am interested in finding out what you might be interested in endorsing. So we’re gonna pretend for a second that I’m your new agent, and I’m gonna pitch you some ideas, and these companies came to me and said, “Is Teairra interested?”
DJ Booth: So, first one is toothpaste—do you think you could endorse Colgate or Crest?
Teairra: Of course!
DJ Booth: So you’ve got the nice teeth going on?
Teairra: I always get compliments on my pearly white teeth and my beautiful smile, so of course, I could do toothpaste.
DJ Booth: Okay, so we’re one for one. Number two: watches—how’s your wrist looking these days?
Teairra: I don’t know… I have a tattoo on my wrist, so maybe not watches.
DJ Booth: Okay, but people with tattoos on their wrists need to tell time also, right?
Teairra: Yeah, but I don’t know if they would wanna use me, with the tattoo on my wrist.
DJ Booth: Well, saying they would wanna use you, would you be interested?
Teairra: Of course, if the price is right.
DJ Booth: Okay!
Teairra: I don’t know if I would be as interested as I would be in toothpaste, ‘cause I don’t really wear watches, but, yeah, if the price is right, agent. [laughs]
DJ Booth: [laughs] I’m workin’ for you, I promise. Next one: car tires. Could you see yourself endorsing Michelin?
Teairra: No thanks.
DJ Booth: No thanks? Okay. And the last one, I got this one based off a little Twitter stalking I did, pizza—could you see yourself endorsing Pizza Hut?
Teairra: Yeah. [laughs] I eat pizza, so yeah, Pizza Hut, let’s make the deal happen.
DJ Booth: All right, well, trust that I will work on your behalf to make this happen, should I decide to forego my work at DJBooth.net and become your personal agent.
DJ Booth: Go ahead, give everybody a website or a MySpace page, something so they can find out more about you and, of course, your upcoming album, At That Point.
Teairra: You can check out myspace.com/teairramari, and all of my updates are on there. And my video I’m shooting in Vegas with Flo Rida, “Cause A Scene,” be on the lookout for that. I’m gonna say ‘body paint’ and ‘glow-in-the-dark’ and I’m gonna leave you with that—it’s gonna be hot. [laughs]
DJ Booth: Okay, well we might have to talk about that later on, not during the interview, ‘cause you’ve got me intrigued, but thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck.
Teairra: Thank you! I appreciate it!
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