Going back to you your family. I know your sister Mila J was a singer too. Is she still pursuing music?
I think so. As far as [us being] sisters, we don’t really talk about our business with each other. It’s kind of weird because we’re so close. It’s just that we do our own thing and we talk about the normal stuff not like ‘So are you working on an album?’
When you first got signed, were you in the middle of a bidding war? Because I remember reading on Twitter that you were visiting other labels too before No ID’s deal came through.
Because I had been signed when I was 13, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a deal because I was so jaded by meetings with labels and I really don’t like stuff like that. I just like being a regular person. I had a meeting right before I had my daughter and the head of the label was like ‘You know when you come in here you like to kind of like have to sell yourself” and I was like, ‘No, I don’t.’ I’m going to be me and either you’re going to like it or not. I’m not going to be extra fake and do flips on your table. At the time I was doing my mixtape, I felt like I wasn’t sure if the industry was still like that where you still had to [sell yourself]. Now it’s kind of more like like [how] Frank Ocean can be himself and wear what he wants to wear and stuff like that. Even like Drake, people who are just doing honest music and being themselves. As a girl especially, people just want to be extra glamorous and expect certain things from you. There’s just certain things that I don’t feel comfortable doing so I wasn’t sure that the label was going to give me that. But with No I.D., he’s about the music. When I met with him, I was also meeting with other labels but he was the only person that made me feel comfortable like he really got it and he just really wanted to make good music.
And not try to make you somebody that you weren’t?
Since you were signed at such a young age is there anything about your career that you would have done differently?
No, to me that was like another life. That was like another lifetime because I was so young and I got to take a big break from being signed. I had a good experience though as far as being able to travel and really see what I didn’t want to do but like now because I experienced those things when I was younger, I know I will never do some of those things again.
Do you have any industry regrets?
No. When I was younger, I was like go with the flow with everything. I do regret just singing whatever just because they would hand me songs and when I listen back I’m like ‘why?’
Like on the You Got Served soundtrack, when you did "Happy?"
I actually wrote "Happy." That was one of the first songs when I started writing. I also remember "Dog." It was on B2K’s first album, it was like a dog barking on the track. For a 12-year-old, it was cute. Everything after that was pretty much me writing. I used to get on Garage Band and put out my own tracks and put them on like MySpace.
You also did the song "For Your Brother" on Garage Band. What was creating that song like?
I got the beat from Alexander who is a 16 year old kid. I knew that I wanted to do a song for [my brother Miyagi] when he was in his final stages of cancer. It ended up being a song just asking him not to give up. When I heard that beat, I was like this [is] it. I knew it was going to be hard for me to record it in an actual session with an engineer because I just wanted to say what I had to say so I recorded it on Garage Band and I gave it to the engineer and kind of mixed the vocals. When I released that, it was just me recording in a room.
What were the last words he said to you?
During the end, he was kind couldn’t really talk a lot. I had an uncle who was also dying of cancer a month and a half ago. The last week of his life, [my family and I] were all there. He was on hospice care, we were all just there helping with him brush his teeth. He couldn’t do anything for himself. So the day of, we went to San Francisco to visit my uncle who had only a couple of weeks. All of my brothers and sisters left. While we were out there, that’s when we got the call. [My manager] was there and she shared his last breath. I texted her and she was like, 'You need to play him this song because we want him to keep fighting.' For some reason I was nervous to sit there and play it for him so she played it and she said he got really calm and he was breathing really calm. That was one the last things I think he heard.
Is "You Vs. Them" also for him?
"Space Jam" was when we first found he had cancer. "You vs. Them" was actually about my daughter about deciding whether to have her or not. Obviously, I decided to have her. I was like should I be a mom or should I like be a singer, but I found that I could be both.
You touch on a lot of heavy topics in your music. On "3:16" you sing about suicide. Being that it's World Suicide Prevention month, did you ever have any dark moments in your life where you were thinking that?
Yeah, I mean I’m a water sign. I’m a Pisces. It gets crazy in my mind sometimes but the reason why I like to express so much positivity on my Twitter is because I think we all are battling evil thoughts. I think it’s important to not ignore them but to try to understand where they are coming from and get through them instead of suppressing them. That’s what "3:16 AM" is. It's about addiction, feeling like you want to kill yourself because you love something and you lost it. I have another song "3:16 PM" that's more of a happier song.
You also did a Tumblr rant a couple of months back about how you’re not the next Beyoncé or Aaliyah. What sparked that?
When the mixtape got popular, everybody was like, ‘When you get signed I hope you don’t sell out and you start doing this or that.’ And I’m like. 'Look I’m never not going to do anything that I don’t want to do. All of these people right here can hold a gun to my head and I probably [would] tell them to shoot me before I do something that I’m not comfortable with. So I was just letting them know, I love Beyoncé, I love Aaliyah, I love Rihanna, I love my peers but I’m not that. All of us are different and I just want people to know that I’m always going to stick to me. I think when people start trying to compete and do whatever’s hot... like ‘Beyoncé did claw nails so let me do it.' I said that the other day on Twitter, 'You’ll never see me in claw nails because I have a daughter and I will poke her eye out.' If I did that then you would know, you’re trying to do something that’s not you. So if the music that I do becomes popular or whatever then that’s fine too.