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The Vixen Q&A: Teedra Moses Speaks On Split From TVT, Maybach Music Group + The Revival Of R&B


Teedra Moses has slinked behind the scenes of the music industry for a few years now. Since her last project, Complex Simplicity, the soulful R&B songbird has been perfomring live shows and even dropped a couple mixtapes; however, fans still want to know what's up with the "missing" lioness. VIBE Vixen caught up with New Orleans native daughter and talked about a possible Maybach Music label deal, Complex Simplicity vs. The Lioness and who she feels is reviving R&B. -Niki McGloster


Tell me what’s been going over the last few years. A lot of people have been asking, ‘Where’s Teedra?’
I’m sure people know at this point that TVT--the record label that I was signed to--they went bankrupt in 2008. Before 2008, I’d come to the decision that TVT was the place I wanted to be at any longer. If there was some way we could have successfully moved forward, I would’ve tried, but the whole battery behind that machine, the whole energy that made that thing come together and move wasn’t there anymore. I lost a lot of money with lawyers trying to get off that label, and if I would’ve known it was just gonna fall apart, I wouldn't have wasted my money. But I got through that and then, I just had to take a second to just figure out how I was going to continue doing this. I didn’t want to run directly to a new label ‘cause I just needed to figure out what I wanted, just what I was doing period.

You stayed relevant in your own way though because you kept doing live shows and releasing mixtapes.
Yeah, I started doing way more shows around that time, and I think a lot of the biggest promotion for my album came around that time. I started grinding so much more and more people had become aware of me. I continued to put out mixtapes, you know. The Young Hustla was the first mixtape I put out before my album came out because I was frustrated waiting for TVT to put out my album. Then after my album came out, I was frustrated waiting to get the opportunity to put out a second album, and I hit the road. I did a live mixtape, Live From The Jungle. Then I didn’t have any way to put out an album because I didn’t have a label, so I put out Lionhearted. Basically, it was all songs that were sitting here and I gave them to the people. In 2010, I put out my last mixtape called Royal Patience, and that was just something for fans of the music.

Each mixtape had a purpose- Lionhearted was when I was really scared, so I had to be courageous and Royal Patience was more of me holding onto to my faith. Be patient. You have talent, people want to hear from you, keep going, just be patient.

Do you think TVT going bankrupt was more of a blessing for you than anything?
Ooh yes! Have you ever been in a bad relationship and you’re just sitting there and you know this shit is dead wrong but you can’t find the gumption to get out of it? In this situation with TVT, I had all the gumption in the world. I love Steve Gottlieb, and I mean that because he gave me the opportunity to give my music to the world, but dude was not letting go of nothing. He had people in his label that were inactive for 10 years! He didn’t care. He wasn’t going to let me go, so it was a huge blessing.

What was the reason for the discord? They weren’t pushing your music and not trying to let you out of your contract?
We just didn’t agree. I remember having a meeting with the marketing person after Complex Simplicity came out. I recall sitting with him and him saying, ‘Well, you know, Complex Simplicity didn’t really have any singles.’ And I was like, ‘Word?’ [Laughs] I remember being on the road for the album and the album not being available in stores, so there were a lot of things that happened. They just didn’t know what they were doing, nor did I. Bottom line.

That’s a serious struggle. There are so many artists, even now, hating their labels for the same reasons. Did you hit a low point or were you depressed at all during this whole battle with TVT?
The great thing is, I didn’t reach my emotional down point until I hit my financial down point. Luckily, before TVT went bankrupt, I was making money writing, so I did really, really well. Then there was another situation I fell into legally with one of my biggest records, and that sent me into a financial whirlwind. After TVT went bankrupt, that’s when the financial thing hit me. Nothing really depresses me except not being able to do what I’m supposed to do for my children; Nothing else really gets to me.

Regardless of that situation, it’s a good thing that you stayed pretty present afterwards. I guess if people are only following your albums, they may think you were gone, but you really weren't.
The funny thing is that people come up to me, in recent times, and say, ‘Oh my God, I got your new album and it’s great!’ And they’re talking about Complex Simplicity. That’s so crazy to me that I can still win people with one album, but it’s not even a me thing, it’s really God and what he has for my life.

Now that you’re an independent artist, do you want that major label machine behind you again?
I do want a label, and I'm talking with people. I've had a label before so you can't get me with the lure of 'Oh, we gon' sign you!' That don't mean shit to me, you know? [Laughs] That don't mean nothing because if you don't believe then that don't mean nothing. The number one thing with me is do you get it?

I had this experience: The night of my birthday. We went out, we had drinks, me and my friends. We went to this little lounge place that I go to here in Miami. I came home, and I'm just having this really good birthday…and going into this birthday I never felt so strong. I never felt so boss! I just really felt like the lioness to the truest form, like nothing could mess with me. I'm coming home, it's like 4 o'clock in the morning and I just hop on Twitter. I never check my DM's because I don't really talk to people on the DM's, but I look at my DM's and I see that Rick Ross hits me and was like, "Who you signed to? I doing this company…" blah blah blah. I'm like cool! He likes my music and that always makes you feel good when your peers acknowledge that you're good too. From that point on, we kinda start talking. He lives down here in Miami too, so I start going over there and catch the vibe with him. He hustles really, really hard, so whenever he was in town, I would go over there and check him out and do tracks and just vibe.

When was this?
He hit me in December; we started communicating in January. And you know, I really like them. I like the fact that he's an artist that understands what I'm doing. He always says, 'You my Anita Baker.' Like, he understands what I'm doing. Not saying that I'm Anita Baker, but that's kinda the way I wanted to do it. I want somebody to say, 'Hey, this girl is hustling. She does her thing. Why is nobody signing her?' I never wanted to go to them and beg. So… we're talking and I really rock with them. I'm considering that very strongly, as he is considering it very strongly.

Wow. So Maybach Music could be the new home for you?
I believe so. Yeah. I like the way they move, and I like the hunger over, and I like that it's all about work. As much as Rick talks about the glitz and glamour or whatever, he goes hard and he works hard, so I rock with that. And that's what I do. I work hard, I rock shows, I touch the people and I try to make good music. I'm not really into the hoopla.

Now, I don't know if you can or cannot talk about this, but when will this be developing? I know he just recently signed some people, so will you sign this summer or something later in the year…?
Oh, I'm more than sure. We are in close talks and working on the compilation now.

Nice!
Yeah, I'm giving songs to the compilation. Hey, listen-- I'm so simple. I'm big on vibe, and it's not enough for somebody to say they like your music and I rock with you. I have to see how you roll. I really just went over to his camp and just scoping it out to see if it's somewhere I can fit. He has Wale and Meek Mills and then the people that are around him that just came up with him, that's a big deal to me. You know, I feel comfortable at this point, so I think it's something that's going to be probably by the summer.

That’s going to be nuts. It seems that much is to be expected from that compilation album, as well as your upcoming album The Lioness. Tell me about how this album compares to Complex Simplicity.

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Music Sermon: The Groundbreaking Sprite and St. Ides Hip-Hop Campaigns

Today, rap music is used to sell everything from electronics to tax filing services to nut butter grinding machines at Whole Foods. We understand that hip-hop culture is essentially the root of everything cool and hip in culture, period, and it’s been commodified and appropriated within an inch of its life. But in the early ‘90s, the genre was far from Madison Avenue-friendly. Aside from the groundbreaking deal between Adidas and RUN DMC, brands didn’t yet see full value and impact of hip-hop…except in the food and beverage industry.

Beverage companies centering campaigns for the urban demo around black music was nothing new; Coca-Cola had ads featuring artists such as New Edition and Anita Baker singing their hearts out for the cola in the ‘80s, and Schlitz Malt Liquor had a legendary – and hilarious - run of spots featuring The Commodores, The Four Tops, Teddy Pendergrass and more through the ‘70s and early ‘80s. However, in the early ‘90s two brands put their entire business on hip-hop’s back, by not only building their brands but spring-boarding the recognition of the music and artists as a marketing and advertising tool: Sprite soda and St. Ides malt liquor.

In the ‘80s, Sprite was languishing behind competitor 7Up when parent company Coca-Cola decided to focus on the youth market, and the quickly growing hip-hop culture was part of the strategy. African-American ad agency Burrell Communications tagged hip-hop acts for a series of spots that began a long-standing marriage between the brand and the culture, starting with Kurtis Blow in 1986. It was one of the first national TV ads to feature a rapper.

KURTIS BLOW - 1986

In 1990, the brand kicked off the “I Like the Sprite in You” campaign, using rap acts that matched the soft drink’s bubbly energy, starting with Heavy D & the Boyz before partnering with Kid ’n Play the following year. The ads featured the artists clad in lemon-lime fare, rhymin’ about lymon.

HEAVY D - 1990 KID’N PLAY – 1991

With Kris Kross, they turned it up a notch and had us crunk inside the Sprite can. Edgy. Also, this was catchy as hell.

KRIS KROSS - 1993

Then in 1994, a young brand manager from Clark Atlanta University named Darryl Cobbin had an idea for a new direction: Gen X was about authenticity and independence of thought, not following the hype. Sprite ditched the pop-friendly crossover acts and identified more “authentic” rap artists – lyricists with street and cultural cred – to rep the brand. “Lymon” was also out of the window, as they moved away from marketing taste and towards marketing attitude. (Cobbin later spearheaded the iconic, yet grammatically questionable, Boost Mobile “Where You At?” campaign.)

Gone were the bright yellow and green sets, because while the new slogan said, “Image is nothing,” it was all about image. Bright and shiny was traded for dark and gritty. Now we were in the studio; a fly on the wall for freestyle sessions. In the first spot of the series with Grand Puba and Large Professor, Puba closes with “First thing’s first, obey your thirst.” It’s legend even within Coca-Cola that Puba ad-libbed the phrase that then became the brand’s tagline that remains to this day.

GRAND PUBA & LARGE PROFESSOR - 1994 PETE ROCK & CL SMOOTH – 1994 A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – 1994

The “Obey Your Thirst” spots also took us the street corner, the club, and inside the ring when Sprite resurrected the legendary KRS One vs. MC Shan battle.

KRS ONE & MC SHAN - 1996 NAS & AZ – 1997 THE LOST BOYS – 1997

By the late ‘90s Sprite had spent roughly $70M on the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign, tripled sales, and commanded a majority market share of the citrus category (which also included 7Up, Sierra Mist, and Mountain Dew).

Sprite had also succeeded in becoming an official and established part of the culture. They were family. The brand further expanded into urban youth culture through a partnership with the NBA, while continuing to evolve the creative of the rap campaigns.

KOBE BRYANT, TIM DUNCAN & MISSY ELLIOTT – 1998

Near the end of the decade, Sprite explored the overlap between hip-hop culture, comics and martial arts with a series of posse spots based on Voltron (representing all hip-hop regions) and the 5 Deadly Venoms (with all female emcees).

VOLTRON SERIES - 1998 5 DEADLY VENOMS SERIES – 1999

Over the years, Sprite has continued to be one of the most consistent brands in hip-hop. We’ve grown accustomed to spotting the logo everywhere from music festivals and shows to the background of BET’s hip-hop cyphers. They revitalized the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign with Drake in 2010 and paid homage to the greatest lyricists in rap with the “Obey Your Verse” campaign featuring iconic rappers and cans with classic lyrics in 2015.

SPRITE "Obey Your Verse - Cooler" (starring Rakim) from SHOUT IT OUT LOUD MUSIC on Vimeo.

St. Ides’ run with hip-hop doesn’t have the same happy ending as Sprite’s. The brand’s usage of rap petered out in the mid-90s after wide backlash and a series of lawsuits.

For St. Ides, hip-hop was the brand campaign. It’s how they built their business. The brand was introduced in 1987 and their rap campaigns launched in 1988. The malt liquor 40 oz., with significantly higher alcohol content than beer at around a $2 price point, was already a staple in lower-income neighborhoods and hip-hop culture. The “Crooked I” capitalized on that.

Parent company McKenzie River secured Ice Cube as their anchor spokesperson and tapped West Coast producer DJ Pooh to spearhead advertising creative. Pooh lined up a veritable who’s who of additional West Coast rappers over the years, including Geto Boys, Cypress Hill, Warren G, Snoop and Tupac; plus the thorough-est from the East, including Eric B and Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie and EPMD.

EPMD & ICE CUBE - 1991 GETO BOYS & ICE CUBE – 1992 ERIC B & RAKIM - 1992

Unlike Sprite’s campaigns which were first jingles and still felt like commercials, even when elevated to trading hot bars for Obey Your Thirst. St. Ides spots, however, looked and felt like straight up music videos with album-worthy production and flow.

ICE CUBE – 1993 MC EIHT – 1994 NOTORIOUS B.I.G. – 1995

Complex even named Wu-Tang’s St. Ides spot “Shaolin Brew” as one of the collective’s 100 best songs! (But at least it’s ranked near the bottom; #97.)

WU-TANG CLAN - 1995

In fact, in 1994, the brand did turn the hottest of the joints into an album, with the St. Ides promotional mixtape dropping at your neighborhood liquor store. It featured full-length songs about getting twisted off the malt liquor from Ice Cube, Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, MC Eiht, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Nate Dogg.

The Snoop and Nate track is low key a jam, still. Homegirl in the background starting at the 10-second mark is a whole mood.

This blatant marketing of malt liquor directly to black and brown youth wasn’t going to go unchecked indefinitely. It was all irresponsible, even while being genius for the demo. In 1991, the Wall Street Journal listed the St. Ides ad campaign among one of the worst of the year, which probably didn’t matter at the time since WSJ readers weren’t St. Ides’ base.

In 1991, Public Enemy released Apocalypse ’91: The Empire Strikes Back. The album featured “100 Bottle Bags,” a direct criticism against malt liquor companies marketing specifically to urban communities “…but they don’t sell that sh*t in the white neighborhoods.” Shortly after the release, St. Ides found itself in Chuck D’s crosshairs, and he fired the first in a series of big shots against the brand, marking the beginning of the end of their love affair with hip-hop. An 80-second radio spot featuring Cube used a sample of Chuck’s voice without his permission. The ad had already aired over 500 times on rap radio shows when Chuck sued St. Ides parent company McKenzie River for five million dollars (they settled out of court).

Then, St. Ides and McKenzie River fell under legal scrutiny from the New York State Attorney General in 1992 for using verbiage like Cube’s lyric “Get your girl in the mood quicker, make your jimmy thicker…St. Ides.” to suggest the malt liquor increased sexual prowess. Can you imagine the think pieces if that spot ran today?

They were later in hot water with the New York AG’s office again, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (the ATF) for advertising perceived to the be targeted towards minors, with complaints that it glamorized gang affiliation and promoted sex. After having production completely shut down for a short while and getting hit with heavy fines, St. Ides tried to clean up its act, adding “drink responsibly” messaging into the spots.

By ’96 the run was over. Hip-hop was growing up, getting money and moving towards more sophisticated alcoholic beverage choices. Alizé and Hennessy, anyone?

The relationship between hip-hop and alcohol never ended, of course, but has continued to evolve to match the evolution of the lifestyle. We don’t go to the corner store no more, homie (save a brief return in the early aughts of Four Loko). We’re toasting to the good life with premium brands, some of which are now owned by the artists.

We can look back now with the wizened, woke eyes of maturity and possibly scrutinize our artists selling out at the expense of the community, but for the young and burgeoning hip-hop culture, both the St. Ides campaigns and the Sprite campaigns opened the door for the power and commodification of hip-hop and consumer brands. For better or for worse.

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Police Forced A Bronx Woman To Give Birth While Handcuffed

A Bronx woman who was 40 weeks pregnant went into labor while in a holding cell. The police then took her to a local hospital where her wrists were handcuffed to the bed and her ankles shackled. The doctors at Montefiore Medical Center urged the patrolling guard to remove the restraints stating it would harm the mother, but the guard persisted.

According to a lawsuit filed, the woman has asked to remain anonymous. “I haven’t made sense of it myself and I’m not ready to explain it to my child,” she said in an affidavit.

The woman was 27 at the time endured an hour of excruciating labor pains before the guard relented and freed one of her arms. Jane Doe was only fully free nine hours after giving birth.

“The fact that pregnant women and women in labor would be subject to the most draconian treatment imaginable, particularly when they stand accused of a misdemeanor, speaks volumes about the macho culture of police departments and corrections,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said.

A judge arraigned Jane Doe in her hospital bed for violating a protective order. The woman's lawyer Katherine Rosenfeld explained to the New York Times the order stemmed from a protective-custody case involving her former partner. Ms. Doe spent almost 30 hours in protective custody.

“The fact that they disregarded the medical advice of doctors suggests that they didn’t use any humanity and sort of blindly followed what they perceived to be the policy in the Patrol Guide,” Ms. Rosenfeld said.

READ MORE: The Federal Government To Launch Database Tracking Deadly Police Encounters

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A Man Claiming To Be El Chapo's Nephew Threatens To Have Tekashi Mother Deported

In the never-ending saga of Tekashi 6ix 9ine, The Daily Beast has obtained a voicemail recording of a man alleging to be El Chapo's nephew and using the proposed connection to threaten the rapper's mother with deportation.

“His brother lives there. His mother lives there. She don’t even have no f**king papers,” he can be heard saying.

Jose Avila left a 49-second voicemail on Nov. 15 after the rainbow hair rapper failed to show up to an appearance he was promoting in Austin, Texas. At the time, Tekashi was on probation for a sex video stemming from 2015 involving a 13-year-old girl. Avila threatened to use his connection to have Tekashi placed in jail.

“I know a lot of government people and I’m going to send his ass to jail if he doesn’t come to Austin, Texas, today. He f**king makes me lose money already.” Avila said. "He needs to f***king come and be a fucking man. Or I’ll put his ass in jail.”

Reportedly, Tekashi wasn't made aware of the threats of imprisonment, but he did know of the supposed family connection because Avila texted Tekashi's booking manager, Tasea Ferguson.

“My uncle [is] in New York,” Avila reportedly texted. “Guzman Loera... My uncle sons control all USA.”

El Chapo's full name is Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera and he's currently on trial in Brooklyn. The allegation Avila leveled proved to be false. El Chapo's attorney Jeffrey Lichtman denied knowing of any nephew by that name.

When Tekashi, real name Daniel Hernandez, finally got in contact with Ferguson, he was brought up to speed and took to social media to announce he wouldn't be in Austin, Texas that evening.  “I spoke to the promoter, Jose Avila with Avila Music. We are going to be in business. I am coming back to Austin, Texas.”

Surprisingly, after Tekashi was taken into federal custody on racketeering charges, the Daily Beast reports Avila was in the courtroom and doted upon Tekashi's mother, who is often referred to as Nati. He even posted a picture with him. In the coming weeks, Availa also claimed he was Tekashi's manager. A source close to the rapper quickly dismissed the comment.

"There’s nothing to manage. Danny’s in jail.”

READ MORE: Mos Def Calls Tekashi 6ix 9ine  The Most Depressing Sh*t He's Ever Seen

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