Record company people aren’t all shady. At least according to Chrisette Michele. The Def Jam song star is releasing her third album, Let Freedom Reign, on the iconic label today and has learned a great deal about the industry since her 2007 debut I AM.
In this interview with TheUrbanDaily (conducted before her labelmate showed his arse at the Soul Train Awards) Chrisette insists the “Bawse” is a gentleman, Black Girls still rock and that colored girls don’t consider suicide if their song doesn’t make the soundtrack.
TUD: How has it been working with “the Boss” Rick Ross? You guys have done several songs together including the “Epiphany”Remix, “Mafia Music, and “Aston Martin” Music.
Chrisette Michele: We also did a song called “So in Love” for my album. He is really a sweety, a gentleman. He is a really nice guy. It’s been easy getting along with each other creatively.
So he didn’t make you write five different hooks like Jay-Z did for “Lost One”?
What’s crazy is that I actually free styled “Aston Martin Music.” He told me the title of the song and I didn’t know what to write about so I just felt my way through the song.
You also worked with Ne-Yo for “I’m a Star.” What was that like?
He did a lot on my last album. This time around, I decided that nobody was working on my album. I was going to hide out and do my album all by myself and come back and say “here’s the record. Put it out.” Then Ne-Yo sent in a song called “I’m a star.” At first I said that’s not something I believe in, that word makes me feel uncomfortable. But when I listened to the words and verses we all started to talk about going through things and coming out on top. I felt that was inspirational and that was worth giving it a try.
In the video for “I’m a Star” there were a lot of pink bottles. How much Nuvo do you really drink?
I’m not a heavy drinker, can you tell?
You do seem more like the girl in “Super Bad” that bought the liquor for her friends but didn’t drink any of it.
I didn’t even do that. I am such a cornball. It’s really bad. For fun I go to the spa. I’m not a drinker at all.
Your mixtape is called “Love thy Brother.” Why that title?
It’s a prelude to Let Freedom Reign. I felt like I needed to call it something that would [represent] what I think about America. It is a play on words because it is about my blood brother and brothers in society. I feel like the Black boys are still dying. Conscious rappers were so cool back in the day and now it is boring and not so cool anymore. So that was my way of telling my fans that I love them and I am giving [the fans] something for free.
In the beginning of the mixtape you say that you are “Def Jam’s good girl.” Are you giving your labelmate’s hugs and telling them to stop sending off nasty emails?
C: No. I’m not even sure which emails you’re talking about but I had a song on my first album called “Good Girl,” which my mother and I wrote. My definition of a good girl at the time was a girl who could make their own money, asking for nothing, carrying herself like a lady.
So you’re happy with Def Jam…
Yes, this is my third album here. Many people don’t make it this far.
Have you seen For Colored Girls yet?
I actually saw it while it was being previewed. I was suppose to make music for it, another song on my album called “I Am Not Your Friend, I Am Your Life” didn’t make the soundtrack [for the film].
Why didn’t it make the soundtrack?
I don’t know..
What did you think of the film?
It was incredible. It was really amazing how he took dialogue straight from the original [book] and then allowed young people to hear and see that type of art. It was clever of him to add that prose to the language.
Is there any acting for you in the future?
Absolutely. This year, I’ll be coming to a theater near you in my first musical production. It’s really exciting and I can’t wait for you guys to see it.
Can you tell us the name of it yet?
I want to but I can’t give you the name, even though it is written in stone. It’s very colorful, vibrant, and you’ll get a great laugh. I am playing a comedic role because I’m ready for people to see that I am not completely serious and I’m an absolute clown.
Did you get to tune in to “Black Girls Rock” this year? ?
I got to see it before it aired on BET and I am so proud of the whole entire movement. I was honored in one of them in 2008 and I performed a song called “A Day In Your Life.”
You cut your hair sometime back. What was the motivation?
My hair was like this when I first got signed. Then I grew my hair and cut it. It’s a natural progression. I get bored easily and I’m tired of the status quo that you can’t be natural and beautiful. People told me if I went to my natural texture that it wouldn’t be fashionable and I wouldn’t sell any records. This is my “F You.” That’s how I felt.
So it’s been about 4 years since your career started. What would you say is industry rule #4,081 ?
On this mixtape I actually had a comeback for that very line (that record company people are shady). I took a line from KRS-One’s “Step into the World.” I played his first verse on there. It talks about how we rely on marketing schemes but don’t rely on talent anymore. People think if they put out what they really believe, it won’t sell. The mixtape is not about me wanting to sell, I just have to say this. It think the next rule is not to be afraid to be a failure. I have a song called “Nobody Sings Along.” No one is singing my songs with me but I still say what I have to say.
What will the next video be from the album?
My favorite record, it is called “Goodbye Games”. I think it should have been the first single. I can’t wait for you guys to hear that song.
Let Freedom Reign is in stores NOW!