You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea
She first hit the scene at the ripe age of 18, singing about how sheís about to ďBizzounce.Ē Olivia was making certifiable hits when most other young girls were thinking about what color to wear to prom. Unfortunately, the music industry is all about politics and because of that, she faded into obscurity, only to reemerge two years later as the first lady of G Unit. Not feeling like she was getting the R&B attention she craved, Olivia parted ways with G Unit, in search of herself and her future. Luckily, sheís found a home and is finally able to give us the music that she represents and that represents her. Her mixtape, Under the Radar--which is available for a free download on her website--features WebStar, Serrani and Drake. Sounds delicious, right? Well it is and itís only an appetizer for us to listen to while we patiently wait on the main course--her album Show the World is due out later this year. Finally we will get to see all that is the real Olivia--no rumors, no assumptions. Not only do we get to see more of Olivia through her music, but sheís also got a reality show--Love and Hip Hop coming out on Vh1 in October. On it, weíll see Olivia, Chrissy Lampkin (Jim Jonesí girlfriend) and Emily (Fabulousí babyís mother) live out their lives, minus the typical drama these types of shows are famous for.
I know that a lot of R&B stars are starting to do the mixtape thing. Is this your first one?
I did one in 2005, so I was the first R&B artist to do that! We called it So Seductive. I wanted to do another one because the fans were hitting me about the music. We had the album and because I had my Vh1 show coming out; I wouldnít be able to promote both things. I decided to do another mixtape and the fans love it, so this should hold them over until the album.
A show on Vh1? Is it a reality show?
Well, yes and no. Itís basically following my life from how I went J to G Unit up until now. You see me with my family, friends, things I like to do in my daily life, events out, industry stuff with my other famous friends, just anything. You guys are going to get to see the real Olivia. It will feature Emily and Chrissy and it will show what itís like to be in hip hop and obviously for them--going through wanting to be in those relationships or not, how itís like to be with someone in the spotlight that doesnít claim them; itís really going to be crazy. Itís going to be called Love and Hip Hop. I am excited about it.
Itís getting to a point now where celebrities are starting to do reality showsÖ
Well, I donít like them. Iíve been approached to do reality shows for three years now. The only reason I decided to do it was because Mona Scott, who manages Missy, is one of my good friends and sheís doing it. Weíre like family, so thatís the only reason I agreed to do it. Iím just really leery of reality shows and how they take certain people into certain elements and make them look. I donít like how they put women against each other. We discussed all of that and we told them there would be no cattiness in the show. Weíre not doing any of that scripted, throwing a drink in the face stuff.
How are you working around your schedule as an artist and now a reality star?
Thatís easy girl! I do music in between. Weíre going to put out two records. Weíre shooting two videos off the mixtape. Weíre going to shoot the video with Serrani for the ďRub Me UpĒ record. Weíre also going to do the WebStar record. Iíll have both of those while working the records on the radio as well. We also have my single off the album. No sleep [laughs], but Iím kind of used to that.
Your new album, Show the World--what are you trying to show us?
Yes. Thatís actually one of the songs off the album that I love. Kendall Nesbitt produced that song. Itís just talking about what Iíve been through in the industry--how the industry can be so phony, all the rumors youíve heard about me. Itís a really dope record. Itís very melodic and musical, but if you listen to what I say, youíll be like, wow. A lot of people say itís their favorite record. Itís kind of got that old school soul. The lead single is going to be a record I did with Sean Kingston called, ďSun Donít Shine.Ē I absolutely love that record.
People may not actually know that you compose, produce and arrange. How do you feel thatís helped your career?
It helped in a lot of ways. One, I get to keep the money. [laughs] Two, Iím writing from personal experience. I donít have somebody writing things for me that I have to sing that I donít know how to evoke the emotion because I havenít been through it. I wrote 90% of this album, so itís all coming from the heart.
Have you written for anyone else?
Yeah I have. I canít say who--ghostwiter! [laughs]
How do you feel people see you as an artist?
I donít think people really see me for who I am yet. Theyíre all trying to figure it out because they donít know. Some of my real fans really know. When I first signed to J Records, I was 18 years old. I dropped the album when I turned 19. I was brand new and doing whatever Clive wanted me to do. They gave me a direction that wasnít me. When I signed to G Unit, they were doing the same thing. I canít do R&B music with a bunch of rap artists and fit in, even though I was a solo artist, they did it like I was part of a group. I couldnít do R&B with everyone on a rap tip. I had to conform to what they were. Now that I am by myself and I know what I want to do and the sound I want, youíre going to get it on the Show the World album. People are going to understand and theyíre going to love it or hate it. Thereís no in between. I know theyíre going to love it. I scrapped all the stuff that I did on behind closed doors, purposely so that I could give everybody fresh and new material--something that really reflects me that Iím totally proud of 100%.
What would you call your sound?
I donít really have a particular sound because I love all types of music, but I definitely go more towards the sexy, sultry kind of thing. When I sing full out on records, you can hear my gospel. I canít pinpoint my sound, but I know people definitely recognize my voice now.
These days female artists are typically oversexed and thatís whatís used to sell records. Do you feel thatís the kind of image that is needed t sell records?
Definitely not. Iíve never had to do that. If the record calls for it, then ok. But if thatís not how you are, you shouldnít let anyone force you to do anything.
Do you feel youíre able to be a positive role model to young girls?
I get the most wonderful fan emails that you can think of! Sometimes I cry at the things that little kids, men and women say to me that I wouldnít expect them to get by just listening to my music or seeing me. Knowing youíre making a difference in somebodyís life is wonderful.
Who have you worked with for Show the World?
Missy, Bryan Cox, Sean Kingston, Ryan Leslie, Rockwilder, Tony Dofat, Kendall Nesbitt, Sham--who did the ďTake it OffĒ record that I have with Maino. Thatís why I felt like I didnít need to do any features because I already had great producers on there. I felt like every time you saw me [in the past], it was a collaboration. I donít feel like I needed that now.
What else have you got going on right now?
Girl, how much else am I going to give you! [laughs] Iím touring. Iím doing a lot of work between the show and the album coming up. Life is good.
Whatís the biggest lesson youíve learned over the years?
Watch the people that you trust in the industry. The politics is a lot. You just see whatís in the forefront. Behind the scenes will drive somebody crazy. Thatís why Iím glad I switched management. Iím with Rich Dollaz now. Heís wonderful. I can count on him to back me with anything. He knows all about the politics, worked in radio, been at Bad Boy, at Interscope now, heís worked with every artist you can think of, manages Ryan Leslie--heís good and communication is great.
I know you started blogging with Global Grind and Vibe, what kind of things can we expect you to be writing?
A lot of different things. Iíll be talking about fitness, hair color, my favorite movies, artists I like and donít like, any and everything. Blogging makes us [celebrities] feel more personable and accessible.
Make sure you check out www.Oliviaworldwide.com and follow Olivia on Twitter! @1andonlyOlivia