Sunday 16 June 2013

Whatever Happened To RnB? - Teairra Mari

Remember when City High had a promising career and The Black Eyed Peas were just a small time hip-hop act? In this weekly feature, I take a look back at some of the best RnB artists of yesteryear, sharing their signature videos and underrated hits, as well as looking at what's happening in RnB today. Previous posts have focussed on the Honeyz comeback, a retrospective on Lumidee's career and new videos from Frank Ocean and Ciara. Today the spotlight is on one of RnBs most underrated artists, Teairra Mari.

Signed to Def Jam at just 16, Teirra Mari recorded and released her debut album in 2005. 'Roc-A-Fella Records Presents...Teairra Mari' generated some buzz with its lead single but after average sales, the young singer was dropped from her label and has failed to make an impact on the charts since. Teairra Mari showed a lot of promise when she first hit the scene with her sweet vocals and hip-hop swagger so it's a shame that the singer has been unable to release an official follow-up yet. With talk of a second album on the horizon, now is the perfect time to look back at Teairra's best songs to date.

Jay-Z's intro set the bar high for Teairra Mari's debut single 'Make Her Feel Good' and I remember being instantly hooked upon first hearing Sean Garrett's production. The video is a bit dull but I thought this was a great intro to Teairra's unique style. Love it.

Follow up single 'No Daddy' further established Teairra as a singer to watch. While the intro was a bit dumb, the higher production values made this a popular promo on MTV back in the day. I love that 'No Daddy' actually addresses issues that young women can relate to and that it isn't just your everyday RnB/pop song.

The video shoot for third single 'Phone Booth' was cancelled so it ended up only being released on radio. Maybe it was never officially released because of the ridiculous spoken word segment at the beginning of the track or maybe it failed just because it was a much weaker song than the previous singles? 

Now this is what I'm talking about! 'Stay In Your Lane' features some great production from the legendary Darkchild and the track lets Teairra show off the signature attitude which people fell in love with in the first place. This should definitely have been the third single!

Around this time, 
Teairra performed a tribute to Destiny's Child alongside up and coming RnB stars Amerie and Rihanna! It's easy to forget that Rihanna was just another young RnB singer when she started out and it's interesting to think what could have happened if Teairra had taken off instead. I love this version of 'Lose My Breath' and all three girls sound amazing. 

LL Cool J had a comeback in 2006 with 'Lose Control' but the 'Todd Smith' album featured an even better collaboration which sadly never reached radio. 'Preserve The Sexy' is a sexy duet that could have been a huge hit for LL and Teairra if it had ever been released. 

Teairra began recording a new album in 2008 but after numerous delays and title changes, 'At That Point' never saw the light of day. Some videos and recordings have been released from the project which give fans an idea of what the final album would have sounded like.  

The mid-tempo song 'Hunt 4 U' was given an official video release in 2008. While it's not the best track Teairra'
s ever recorded, I do really enjoy it and I love how great she looks in the video. A guest rap from Pleasure P helps to mix things up too.

'Cause A Scene' features rap star Flo Rida on a club anthem that hearkens back to Teairra's roots, with its "don't give a f**k" attitude and sexy vocals. It's a shame that the video is just your standard club based promo though and   to be honest, I've never been a big fan of Flo Rida. Still, I wish Teairra had been more successful on the charts with this one. 

In 2009, Teairra released a mixtape titled 'Don't Make Me Cause A Scene', which featured an awesome duet with Nicki Minaj, back before she had become the superstar she is today. I found what appears to be an official video for 'Automatic' on Youtube but it's incomplete and doesn't feature the Minaj rap so I've shared the full audio version below instead. As always though, be aware that Nicki's rap contains explicit lyrics.

2010 saw the release of Teairra's 'Sincerely Yours' EP and by this point, it's clear that the singer had less money backing her career. The production became blander and the videos that Teairra filmed are quite cheap looking. I love her but it's the truth. Watch the video for 'Body' to see if you agree.

For more evidence of how Teairra's career continued to go downhill, check out the official promo for the song 'Stay' from 'The Night Before X-MAS' EP. 

Single release 'Sponsor' was a highlight from around this time but I still don't think it's as good as it could have been and to be honest, I have no idea what the song is actually about. 

In an unusual change of pace, Teairra shows off her softer side with the piano ballad 'Stranger'. It's hardly an anthem but I have to commend Teairra for trying something different and it's worth a listen at least.

Trina released a mixtape called 'Diamonds Are Forever' in 2011 which featured a Teairra collab titled 'Blackbird'. I think this song is definitely better than some of Teairra's other songs from this era, although it still falls flat to me when compared to her earlier duet with LL Cool J.

Teairra's latest single release is called 'U Did That' and features the rapper 2 Chainz. I love Teairra's sexy vocals on the track and I think it's one of the best songs she's released in a while. Hopefully this is a sign that things are looking up for the RnB starlet.  

I've always been a big fan of Teairra Mari but without a label backing her career, the singer has gradually faded into RnB obscurity. With the help of a big producer or songwriting team, there's a chance that Teairra could make a comeback but at the moment, this is looking unlikely. It's a shame as Teairra really stood out to me as a promising new star with her debut album. 

So what do you think of Teairra's career so far? What's your favourite song? How do you feel about her newer material? And will she ever make it back onto the charts? Let me know by commenting, liking and sharing below. 

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