Declaration of Independence: Olivia (formerly of G-Unit)

ALLHIPHOP CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCEOlivia is misunderstood. The former G-Unit vixen mistakenly started out as balladeer-turned-rapper once she became Clive Davis’ first signee to J Records (contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t Alicia Keys). That was the origin of the misunderstanding, so the classically trained artist lost her top spot to the girl with the piano and […]

ALLHIPHOP CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCEOlivia is misunderstood. The former G-Unit vixen mistakenly started out as balladeer-turned-rapper once she became Clive Davis’ first signee to J Records (contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t Alicia Keys). That was the origin of the misunderstanding, so the classically trained artist lost her top spot to the girl with the piano and moved on to hopeful brighter pastures at Interscope. There, an incredibly short meeting with Jimmy Iovine led to her second major label deal and a seat at the G-Unit table. All was almost right in the world, as Olivia was featured on several hits, including “Candy Shop” and “Best Friend.” Her fanbase swelled as did her notoriety and rumors that her Interscope debut would never see the light of day. Well, it didn’t, and Olivia amicably parted ways with her second recording home. Olivia speaks from a peaceful place in retrospect though, as she has big plans to release another album (finally) without a label. She discusses her past, 50 Cent, and her future. As an independent artist, Olivia has no qualms about admitting to another possible major label deal in the future and even hints at other majors bidding for her talents. However, this time, she will call the shots. Alternatives: First things first – what happened with you, G-Unit, and Interscope?Olivia: Well it was basically a whole miscommunication. You know Fif [50 Cent] and I had the same manager – which was Chris Lighty at Violator – and having to do things with the same company…it was kind of a conflict because Fif would want me to do one thing and Chris would want me to do another. Then Fif wouldn’t know exactly what I was doing, and we were just used to calling each other (me and Fif) understanding what needed to be done. So when you have to go through the company, sometimes it gets confusing. It just got to be too much because there was no R&B help at G-Unit. It was basically all rap, so there was nobody there to help Fif as to what direction should he put Olivia in so… He always knew I was hot, he loved my music, but he didn’t know how to market it. It came off as him trying to market me as a rap artist, and that’s not what we were trying to do. We both talked about it before like this isn’t something new.I asked him for about two years that I wanted to be let go, because it was too much on him, it was too much on m. We split amicably, but you know how the press always changes stuff anyways. We roll with it, and I’ll just agree to whatever comes out because we don’t really need to tell the full story you know ‘cause we had already talked about what we’d wanted to do.AHHA: Right, right. Now I remember when you first got signed to Interscope you had a meeting with Jimmy Iovine he was just like, “Sign her.”Olivia: Yeah, uh huh.AHHA: Why didn’t he step in at all? I remember he was in charge of your project.Olivia: It was the whole management thing. They left it up to Violator to do everything, and also I was just used to calling Fif like I said. Like I never had to call Jimmy for anything, I could always just call Fif and be like okay I wanna do this or I need to do this. Or he’d call and say can you record this or can you do this and he’d always take care of it as if he was my manager. So like I said, it was just too much on him as one artist to take care of all of us. Remember it was like what eight, nine artists signed at the same time so it was a lot for him trying to do it all himself.AHHA: Now I know it’s not the same, but it sounds similar to the same thing that happened to you at J [Records].Olivia: Umm a little bit. The difference at J was it was a brand new company so [Clive Davis] had just pulled everyone from all different labels nobody knew what their predictions would be when they got there. So it was more of a chaotic situation because everyone was brand new; everyone had just started to work together. So they were trying to figure out what direction should they make me go in. Being a first time artist, I didn’t really have that much say. I just had to go with it. But now I know, so I’m happy for all the experiences, because that’s how most of my friends in the industry always tell me how it went for them and I never understood. Because me, I was just fresh out of college and got the deal, so I had to learn that way which was great for me because now I know the industry now. I have a story and now can explain everything that happened to me up until this point.AHHA: And everyone knows you’re really talented and have a really great voice and for you going through these kind of obstacles, was there any moment when you were just kind of like discouraged or just feeling like you know, “the hell with this”?Olivia: Yeah, I was annoyed at times, and I don’t know…I just went through times where I was like, I’m just going to take a three year vacation, forget all of this. Me and my friends would laugh you know, but I knew that this was something that I always wanted to do. Every international Hip-Hop, R&B megastar has went through these tribulations, you know what I’m saying, so it only makes me stronger and it’s another experience I can add to it. I just kinda gotta keep moving with it.AHHA: Well you’re actually in a really fortunate position right now being an independent artist, because that seems to work out lately.Olivia: And fortunately, I still have all the labels that want to sign me and I’ve been through two labels already. AHHA: Wow, so there’s still some bidding wars going on for you even now?Olivia: Yeah, oh yeah, mmhmm. The only reason I won’t sign right now is because I’d rather start myself so they hear the single, we do everything ourselves, and then they come with a better deal. So they’re all coming with good deals, but I don’t personally feel is good enough for me. I want to do everything, and I have my own artists. I want to put my own artists out –they’re all amazing so I want to make sure they get a good shot also wherever I go.AHHA: Wow, good for you, seriously.Olivia: Thank you.AHHA: It’ll be a really good once your album finally comes together. Olivia: Oh, yeah. I’m so excited about it. AHHA: Did you get to take any of the tracks that you were working on with G-Unit with you, or is it going to be brand new?Olivia: I took a few of Missy’s stuff but that’s about it. I think the Ne-Yo record I did after leaving, but there’s a whole bunch of more stuff. I got new Missy stuff also, I got some more Mike City tracks, oh my god there’s so many people…umm Bryan Cox, it’s just so many to name. Like I’m just so fortunate and happy that I can still continue to do this and get great producers who always still wanna work with me.AHHA: I know in your early career, you didn’t like way that J was putting a certain image to your music and at Interscope it seems they were getting a little confused by your image versus the music that was coming out. Now that you’re an independent artist and you have complete control…what is Olivia’s style, who is she?Olivia: I mean you’ll get to see the total R&B package, but with a little bit of edge. With G-Unit, it just made me too edgy because again they’re all rappers. So I can’t come out and just do straight R&B singing ballads when I’ve got five or four rappers behind me on stage. It looks kinda crazy, you know? I had to fit into the box and that’s what I did. If that’s what I had to do in order to make it work, then I’m gonna do it.AHHA: You also have a love for experimental music and of course artists like Esthero.Olivia: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I love pop music; I love rock music. That has not changed.AHHA: Will that element be in your music?Olivia: Oh, definitely. I can’t tell you what, but there will definitely be a few pop things in there. I’m doing a lot of different things, you might even get a little bit of house. Expect a few differences…kind of like how Esthero is ‘cause you know she’s R&B, but she always throws in something extra. Like I even have her on a track with me also, I forgot to say that oh my god, my baby!AHHA: What’s the name of that track? Olivia: It’s called “Love Can Make You Do Some Crazy Things.”AHHA: Good title.Olivia: Yeah, it’s one of my favorites actually. AHHA: Cool, and you’ve been working a lot with children. How’s that working with the community? Olivia: I love kids, period. I think that’s something that has always been big for me even since I was a kid myself. Like I’ve loved to do anything with children, I want to have a big family whenever I get married, you know, so anything that has to do with kids I’m all for it. I love being a role model for them, so they can have people to look up to or when girls need somebody to look up to that works for me because I have a lot of godchildren. I have ten godchildren so I have to be able to adjust and the majority of the godkids are all girls.AHHA: Oh my goodness. Ten godchildren, that’s a lot of presents to buy.Olivia: Yeah, uh huh.AHHA: So, if you could say one regret that you’ve had over the past couple of years, what would you say it was?Olivia: Maybe not keeping certain people close enough during all the different changes with labels. You know how it gets when you have to switch over to something and you have to change in order to keep certain people at the label happy? Other than that I don’t regret anything at all. I mean I think it happened the way it happened. That’s the way God intended it to, that’s why it happened that way and he made me go through all the experiences for me to learn something personally.AHHA: Okay, what about one smart move that you made that you were glad you did in retrospect?Olivia: I’m actually glad that I signed to 50 Cent as much as some people say, “Why did you do that?” It was such a big difference, it was a great move for me because after leaving J Records who can say that they went to 50 Cent from Clive Davis, you know what I’m saying? And wherever I go next, who can say I went from Jimmy Iovine/50 Cent to the next level? So I think it’s all been great experiences like I said. And also just having my manager Paul around, he’s been with me since before J Records. ‘Cause as everybody should know, he’s my first cousin and there’s been so many people who tried to like tear us apart or have me not have him as management. While I was at Violator, he was still there but it was so many conflictions. But you know I’m loyal and I know who has my loyalty to me, so therefore I never kick anybody out or do any wrong to somebody. I know who always had my best interest and people can get caught up with that in the industry. I know lots of people who got rid of their managers who’ve been their managers for 20 years or best friends just because of business.AHHA: Smart move, it lets you know who cares about you, you know?Olivia: Yeah I definitely do.AHHA: Well you’ve had many fans wondering about your whereabouts.Olivia: You know what’s even more amazing? I tell Paul everyday that it’s crazy that everybody still hits me on the G-Unit page, and they know that I haven’t been signed to G-Unit since like mid-2007. They all still hit me there and say how much they love me or what I’m doing, everything and it’s crazy. I’m like wow they really do care.AHHA: That’s really great. People were mad when your album never dropped.Olivia: But see that’s a good thing for me though, because maybe if it did come out it wouldn’t have been promoted the right way. So I think that was also a plus, because now I don’t really have a backlash because my album didn’t come out. So they can’t say I had a project that flopped because it didn’t come out!AHHA: Despite the fact that an R&B artist at G-Unit was really needed, you know? Olivia: It worked for them. I mean you’ve seen “Candy Shop,” you’ve seen “Best Friend” so it worked. But every horse has its time. It was my time to get off and ride another way.