You said “Diamonds” was your favorite record since “Umbrella.” What made it take that number one spot for you?
The way it made me feel. It was so inspiring and uplifting. It was giving me hope, that song. And I was like, “You know what? I’m tired of angry love songs.” Love doesn’t always have to be about breakups and “Fuck you,” and you know, “I hate you,” and “We’re never going to be together again.” It could be sweet. It could be, “Hell yeah! We’re diamonds!” Like, don’t let nobody tell you any different.
I want people to think like that, because, you know, the government even wants to tell people how to love. And I was really tired of that, you know? That just doesn’t make any sense. That song for me really did that, and at the same time, my grandma had just, you know, passed, and it really resonated with our connection and our relationship for me as well. So it was special. It was just special.
When you sing that song, do you think about the relationship you had with GranGran Dolly?
Every time. Every time. I think about a couple of things, but that’s definitely one of them.
I just love working with Eminem. He’s just one of my favorite rappers, and his lyrics—he’s a true poet.
What are the other things that you think about?
Love. I think about love.
Do you like singing about love the most?
I think love is one of the purest things you can sing about. One of the best things you can sing about. But I like songs that are quirky too, like “S&M.” I like fun records as well, but love is—there’s nothing wrong with it. It’ll never get old.
“Numb” is very different from your previous collaboration with Eminem. How did this one come about?
The moment I worked with him on “Love the Way You Lie,” I wanted to work with him again, and we did “Love the Way You Lie Part 2.” And then I wanted to work with him again. [Laughs.] I just love working with Eminem. He’s just one of my favorite rappers, and his lyrics—he’s a true poet, and I enjoy that about him. For this song, I needed someone with not only his skill, but his personality. And I needed someone who really understands the perspective and the metaphor in the song of going numb and being numb to everything around and to say, “Fuck you.” Eminem is definitely the perfect guy for that.
What are you numb to?
To the world, to opinions that don’t matter, you know? People that don’t hold any value in your life. That. I’m numb to that, because that’s none of their business.
“Bands A Make Her Dance” is one of your favorite songs.
So did you specifically want to make a strip club record on this album?
Yes, who told you that?
I just figured it out.
Oh shit, that’s crazy. I specifically wanted to make a strip club record.
And what made you pick a Mike WiLL Made It record over something else?
Actually, it picked me. It was one of those where I was sent a track. As a matter of fact, the writers and Mike Will were in the studio and Chris went over there and came back and said, “There’s this crazy song that Mike Will made, you should listen to it.” So I had somebody from the label bring it for me so I could hear it. Argh—like right away I knew like this was going to be my record. Like, I knew they made it for me, but I just hadn’t heard it yet. But when I heard it, I just knew that I was keeping it. It’s one of my favorite ones. Right away I couldn’t stop listening to the demo, over and over.
So Chris heard the record first and was like, “You have to hear this now”?
He was in the studio with them while they were writing for me, so yeah.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “Stay.” How did you find Mikky Ekko?
Mikky Ekko ended up writing the song for us, and when we first heard it, we loved it. When the kids from Roc Nation found it and brought it to us, I loved his voice on it. The tone of his voice was really beautiful, and the label actually asked us if we could keep him on it. And it turned out perfect—I didn’t have a problem with that, because I loved his tone in the first place. That’s what made me fall in love with it. I just wanted to do it justice, or at least as good as him.”
What are you trying to say with the record "Half of Me"?
It basically meant that people assume, and they think they know based off of whatever records, or whatever the media feeds to them. It’s pretty much saying that’s all you have, and that’s not even really the half of it. People take the little bit of information that they’re fed, and they draw a picture of who you are. And most of the time it’s wrong.
You sing, you’ve designed, and you act. Is there anything else that you want to try?
I mean, there’s so many things. So many things that I can’t really talk about, cause I don’t want to give it away anything or blight it before it happens.
You’re already a pop icon. You came from Barbados to America at age 16. Now you’re one of the world’s biggest pop stars. Where do you go from here?
Bigger. It’s all about growth.
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