It’s summer time in Chicago and the streets are alive with the most anticipated music festival of the year: Lollapalooza. With just a simple stroll down Michigan Ave. you can bump into your favorite artist, rub shoulders with that insta-celeb you follow at a random day party or in my case, have a career-defining encounter with a LEGEND.
Thanks to the awesome people at Lucky Brand, I got the chance to sit down with and interview one of the most legendary vocalists of our time, Brandy at their Chicago City Brand ’90s party.
We talked everything from 90’s music and fashion, to what it’s like to maintain your privacy as an artists in such a social media driven world.
Check it out.
EBONY.com: First of all Ms. Brandy, thank you for joining me today.
Brandy: Aw! Thank you for coming and for supporting me. I appreciate that.
EBONY.com: I’ve been supporting you since THEA darling. “To The CAPITOL!”
Brandy: See ya!! I remember that! I remember that!!
EBONY.com: Yes! That was my JAM!
EBONY.com: So, we are currently at a ’90s party and you are a legend of the decade so I have to ask you. Being an artist that was so prominent during that era, what do you miss most about ’90s music?
Brandy: The ’90s period I just miss because it was such a great time and the music was just so electric. Everybody just had to bring their A-game [back then] because everybody that was, you know, a big influence …they were on the charts. I bring that era with me everywhere I go. I care about every word I sing. I care about every move I make on stage. I care about the fans. I bring that with me to 2017. And then, when you’re timeless, you can work in any time.
EBONY.com: What do you miss most about ’90s fashion? We know, the ’90s was a very LOUD, in your face era. What are some trends you wish could come back?
Brandy: See, I wasn’t big on fashion back then. I don’t think my fashion sense was there. You know? I saw things that I liked, but I didn’t have like, this LOOK. You know? Like, TLC had a LOOK.
EBONY.com: Wait, you were ICONIC. I wore those bucked hats and braids because of you.
Brandy: Yea. I was gonna get to the braids. I had the braids on lock but not on purpose. I put braids in my hair so that I can be low maintenance and then it became A THING. And I was like, “Whoa!” Ya know? So I had to keep my braids in and I got a chance to play around with that and my style was braids. Black girl magic.
EBONY.com: So, that Black girl magic got me in a LOT of trouble as a kid.
Brandy: Wait we don’t wanna get anybody in trouble.
EBONY.com: No. (laughs). When I was a kid, I got my hair braided against my mother’s will because I wanted to emulate you. Long story short, let’s just say they didn’t last long.
Brandy: You’ve got your edges though. So, you’re good.
EBONY.com: So, you’re a legend. And I say that a lot because its true. But, you’re a legend and a woman in a very sexist and male-dominated industry. How do you maintain your peace and keep your image so pure?
Brandy: Well, I’ve figured out the secret. Your mind is your power; you have to work with your mind and work with your own thoughts about your own life. If you spend so much time thinking, “It’s male-dominated. It’s sexist. It’s this. It’s that,” then that’s what the picture will always be. I remember when I was coming up, I didn’t have those thoughts. My mom told me I could be whatever I wanted to be and I could be as bright of a star as I was meant to be. So, that’s where I put all of my focus and my thought …into what I could do. And I carry that with me now.
EBONY.com: Back in the day as an artist, it was easier to keep your image pure because you had a team managing that from behind the scenes. But now we have social media and people can access you in a way that they never been able to before. How do you manage to keep your private life private and keep what’s sacred, sacred in a world that doesn’t value that as much as it used to?
Brandy: Again, it’s about what value I place on myself. What do I think of myself? I know my worth. I know my value. I know that I’m Sy’rai’s mom. I know I have to lead by example. I can’t just be all over the place. Then, I’m also not a punk. You can’t just come to my pages talking any kind of way. There’s a precedence set. It’s about respect. I put the energy out that I want given back to me. I put that out there. And again, I’m true to me.
EBONY.com: Absolutely! Okay, last question. Speaking of you being you. Your sound is like no other. It’s been imitated but it hasn’t been duplicated. So, where are you going now in your career?
Brandy: I’ve been really just freeing myself for the next chapter of my life and I have to be totally free in order to experience that.
Kiki Camille is a writer based in Chicago.