Which songs are you referring to?
“I Need A Girl,” “LOL :),” and actually “Can’t Help But Wait.” As great a song it is… anybody could’ve sung it.
Do you get sick of performing those songs?
I love singing ‘em, but those aren’t career-defining songs. They’re just hit records. Ne-Yo could’ve sung “Can’t Help But Wait,” Chris Brown could’ve sung “Can’t Help But Wait.” It’s like a suit you could just give to anybody. I’ve always made it a point to stay true to the person I am because when it’s all said and done and you don’t do that, whatever else you were wearing sheds off. And what’s left?
Nothing. So are you over being strategic?
Yeah, because I don’t have to make radio records anymore. I don’t have to make a record that radio will play because I’m not a successful artist. I’m a successful artist now, and can make whatever music I want to. And it will be perceived differently because I am who I am.
True, though “Bottoms Up,” would’ve probably worked for Ready to. Did Nicki Minaj steal your shine on that?
She killed it. I think it was her best verse before “Monster.” We were supposed to [work] together for Ready actually, but we couldn’t figure out the right record.
This is obviously the highest point in your career thus far, what’s been your lowest?
The lowest point would be a few years ago [when I was] fighting for acceptance, fighting for belief. I’ve learned to appreciate my growth, but when you initially start out, you want that shit instantaneously. You want everybody to love you automatically.
Do you think you would still have this current success if you hadn’t cut your braids?
I think that was definitely apart of it. Was it the hugest part? No. A lot of people who are supporters of me now didn’t even know who I was when I had braids so that’s 50/50. It was a decision for my life more so than my music. So it really wasn’t that big of a deal for me. It was something that I had always wanted to do, but for my first two albums, it was about branding [and] it was about imagery. And fans are very much indecisive in a lot of ways.
Yes, very fickle.
If you have an artist cut his hair his second album and try to reinvent himself so early, when you don’t even know who he is, you end up looking crazy, so I waited until it made sense.
I think during what you’d call your lowest point, R&B was very much dance-centric. Did you feel that was your weakness back then?