But it feels like there is a different overall message you’re trying to put forth.
I wanted to do an album that expressed a woman’s true thoughts and true feelings about certain situations that we go through. I thought that was missing—the truth part. People do songs that paint themselves as perfect. Like they don’t do this or that: “No, you can’t say this to me or do this to me.” It’s more like storytelling for some people as opposed to exposing who they are, and allowing people to relate to them. That’s what I wanted to accomplish—I wanted to touch people in ways that I was touched. I wanted it to be relatable.
I don’t want to sit here and talk about your bank account. What’s important is that you have goals.
Did that desire to be relatable as an artist come from you personally?
Absolutely. I wrote the majority of the album. There were two songs that I had nothing to do with, on the writing end. They’re “Change Me” and “Energy.” Really, I just won’t sing a song if I don’t feel that way.
Really? What about the song with Keyshia Cole (“Get Your Money Up”)?
Now, there are things about that song that represent the gold-digger, the Atlanta chick mentality. Or at least the perception that people have of Atlanta girls—and in some ways, it’s true.
That’s not particular to Atlanta girls, that’s the mainstream.
Yeah, OK. Women today.
Is that Keri Hilson?
Not at all. I’m closer to the girl on [Timbaland’s] “The Way I Are.” You don’t have to buy me drinks or bottles, don’t flaunt—take your swag off. We can go Dutch. I’m more into a man’s intellect, more into a guy who can enlighten me. I don’t want to sit here and talk about your bank account. What’s important is that you have goals, and you’re mobile.
Yes! Upwardly would be status. Forward is just driven, motivated. I know lots of good girls who think like me. Unfortunately, I think it’s hard for men to change the way they think because there are so many women who... [Laughs.] The number one reason men acquire money is for women. Or to acquire things to get them more women.
There’s a line on “Get Your Money Up”: “Diamonds a girl’s best friend, if you can provide them/I might even act a fool while you’re hittin’ it…”
If we’re in a relationship and you buy me a gift, I’ll acknowledge it! There’s a certain thing in a woman—we like gifts—but don’t think I’m the kind of woman that places the importance on that. It’s not the foundation.
You believe it’s still trickin’ if you have it.
[Laughs.] Sure. Yeah, I believe it’s still trickin’ if you have it. There’s no sane way to answer that!
We haven’t seen you as much as your contemporaries on blogs and gossip sites.
Good. Good. I’m not camera-hungry. That was never part of my dream, to be overexposed. I’d much rather be mysterious.
How mysterious can you be if you do a video blog or shows like 106 & Park?
That’s different! That’s working. I’m talking about the extracurricular.