When it comes to her music, Jazmine Sullivan has always had the lovebug. Since her Fearless debut in 2008, the seven-time Grammy Award-nominee has penned hits singles about smashing the windows of a cheating lover, falling in love with a man that is not her lover and stuttering to find the words to say to her lover. Now with her third studio album, Reality Show, Sullivan is back after a three-year hiatus from the music industry and the 27-year-old chanteuse has finally found the greatest love of all... with herself.
And with the recent No. 1 debut of Reality Show on the Billboard R&B Album charts, there is no doubt the world is falling in love with Sullivan right back. We caught up with the Philly native at the Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City to chat about her obsession with reality television, a possible future scoring for Disney and what almost led her to start using drugs.
Danica Daniel: Tell me the meaning behind the title of your third album Reality Show.
Jazmine Sullivan: Reality Show is based off of, of course my own reality and things I've experienced and things I've learned. Also I have a slight addiction with reality TV. It's not slight! Let me not even say that, it's heavy! It's hardcore. "I'm addicted to reality TV, I'm an addict. Hi! I'm Jazmine Sullivan!" Yeah I think that I've just been affected by reality TV phenomenon and I kind of include it on the album.
What's your favorite reality show?
Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta. That's my favorite. The more ratchet actually the better for me. I like to see ratchet.
Celebrity Apprentice is pretty good right now so you should watch that.
I wouldn't consider that ratchet enough for me. The ratchet level is little.
You're back after a three-year hiatus. What was the hardest part of leaving the music business and the hardest part of coming back?
Leaving was pretty easy [laughs]. That wasn't that hard. What made me leave I think was difficult and I just was going through a difficult time and it was a lot for me at the time to deal with a personal life that was in shambles and having to kind of continue my career and seem normal and look normal when everything wasn't. So that was difficult, but leaving was not that hard. Coming back was definitely, and still is. I really feel like I'm starting over from the beginning. A lot of things that I'm doing I'm having to re-learn and get used to all over again. But I can say the good thing about it is that there's a thrill in it again that I might have lost before. There's a thrill.
You talk about being fake and how the industry. How difficult do you think it is in this business to keep it real and be yourself? You seem to be someone who's constantly trying to stay true to themselves.
Yeah, I am. I think it's always good that you have a good foundation. I think it's about the people that you keep around you. I think it's easy to lose yourself if you have people around you who don't really care for you and have your best interest at heart and won't check you if you need to be checked. I think the best thing that I have is the fact that my mom is my co-manager and my family is always around, my dad is always around. I have friends that will check me too, or get checked.
You stated in the second episode of your webisode series "Spirit" that it's really important that music has a connection to the life of the artist. What song on your new album do you feel the most connected to?
I'd say "Masterpiece." And that's actually the song that I'm most proud of on the album because I feel like I did a lot of storytelling and talking about different things in regards to relationships. But one of the most, not one of, THE most important relationship you can have is with yourself. For a long time I wasn't really concerned about the relationship with myself. I was concerned about my ex and trying to make that work and even with the industry, trying to make that work, but I was kind of lacking in the relationship with myself, so I'm glad that song is on there.
I feel like so many girls want to have a relationship with you. They're thinking, how can she not think she's amazing. You're Jazmine Sullivan, you're this voice. Try to make us understand why you questioned your talent and beauty.
That's another reason why I'm glad this song ["Masterpiece"] is on the album, so that people can see that even the people you look up to have the same issues that you have. We all are human. We all deal with the same issues. I thought it was important for me to let people see that and see me working through it myself so they can work through whatever issues they have.
One of the major revelations that you made during your webisode series was that you " broke" and flirted with the idea of doing drugs. Kudos to you for even admitting it. So many people think about doing drugs in the industry, but to actually admit that takes guts!
Well I was just hurting at the time and I was trying to figure out how I could numb the pain. Now looking back, I'm like that wasn't even worth considering doing anything like that, but it was a lesson. I had to think about it first and thankfully, I came to my senses.
What helped you come to your senses?
Well definitely my relationship with God. Drugs would have been one of the crutches that I used, but really my relationship with God was what was lacking and once I started to, once I realized that and started to focus more on him, it was like you don't need anything else but this. You don't need anything else but God. That kind of snapped me out of it.
You talk about relationships a lot on this album. On "Hood Love" you sing about taking "a bullet for him" and all this crazy stuff. What's the craziest thing you've ever done for love?
Craziest thing I've ever done... Well the whole "bust your windows" thing was true. That was the craziest thing I've done.
You've busted the windows of an Ex-boyfriend's car after catching him cheat? Dopeness!
That was like very much true. It happened and then that morning I came up with the idea for "Bust Your Windows." That was the first time I took life from an actual situation.
Were there any repercussions?
I didn't say there were no repercussions [laughs], but I'm still here!
Only a diva could do that and make a hit song out of revenge. Are there any divas that you'd like to duet with?
There's like a billion women. I love music and art and all that so from Beyoncé to Rihanna. I've worked with Mary J. Blige, but I would love to work with her again, Lana Del Rey, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin. I think just the meshing of two artists, for the most part, always brings out something crazy.
I loved watching your web series. In the third episode titled "Family," you mentioned that you would love for your grandmother to see you win a Grammy before she dies. What are you hoping to check off your own bucket list?
I would like to write songs for a Disney movie, or a few Disney movies. I grew up on Disney. I still watch animated films to this day. I would love to do something like that because I think I have a natural gift of telling stories and I just love animated films.
You have a song called "Mascara" on Reality Show. Could a cosmetics line be in the works?
A beauty line would definitely be dope. Fashion? I think maybe one day. I'm open to anything, but it has to be natural. I don't want to force my way into any field just because somebody says it's going to be a good check or something. I want it to make sense.
You have millions of female fans and you have this song called "Stupid Girls" where you seem to want to send a message directly to them. What are some of the stupid things girls do and what's your advice to them?
I think that women get really lost in men. They get lost in the relationship. They lose themselves, they stop thinking about themselves and it's all about their man and trying to make the relationship work. I personally did that. I wasn't in contact with anyone for a while, even my closest friends and that was the worst mistake that I could ever do. But I think that is something that you have to steer clear of. You have to always keep a part of yourself in anything that you do. Don't get lost.
Listen to Jazmine Sullivan's new album, Reality Show, in it's entirety below.