“Dip It Low” singer says that she has one more feature besides “Start A Fire” on the YMCMB boss’ much delayed Tha Carter V which she describes as “more street.”
Almost as long as she’s been alive, Christina Milian has spent her time in entertainment and it shows. Even when things don’t quite go her way (including being around thirty minutes late with this interview), there’s a level of finesse that seems honed for someone with that type of workload. By the time HipHopDX’s turn rolls around with the singer/actress/businesswomen, Milian has barely found enough time to snack on a piece of bread; let alone the salad lunch that comes with it. Before the 33-year-old mother of Violet Nash(with ex-husband The Dream) found time for her millisecond break, seven interviews had concluded for the day at The Magic Gate digital production facility in L.A. neighborhood Studio City.
However, the “Dip It Low” singer is not alone within the plain white walls of the building’s photography studio. Milian is joined by sisters Liz and Danielle for several of the interviews, something the YMCMB artist thoroughly enjoys. Viewers will specifically get an insight into her frantic yet rewarding life of career and family through E! Television’s reality television series Christina Milian Turned Up.
Set to debut Sunday, January 18, the docu-series follows Milian as she attempts to relaunch her singing and acting career while running several businesses — from her sister’s Kosher Cuban Food Truck to clothing line We Are Pop Culture. Christina Milian Turned Up will serve as a strategic roll-out for the star who’s had a resurgence of sorts during 2014’s tail end when she assisted label boss Lil Wayne for a performance of Tha Carter V single “Start A Fire” during the American Music Awards. Finding some much precious time to speak with HipHopDX, Milian discusses landing on YMCMB, collaborating with Lil Wayne, changes observed throughout the music industry, and her upcoming E! reality television series among others.
Relationship With Lil Wayne And YMCMB Crew
DX: You sort-of came back into the limelight as a music artist last year during the AMA’s when you performed Lil Wayne’s Carter V single “Start A Fire.” Explain that experience of getting on such a large stage for the first time in forever.
Christina Milian: First time in a while and it was an amazing feeling. It was crazy because I’d never performed at an awards show in the states before; only overseas. That was my first time. I got that call three days prior to the actual performance so to put that together and know that we weren’t shooting a video, rehearsal time or none of that felt like I had to be prepared for anything. At this point, we went up there with chemistry and at least I had my partner by my side. Me and Wayne have a great chemistry when we work together and it was like two kids on stage. The second we got off of stage you would think we never performed before in our lives. It was like we went to Chuck E Cheese; jumping and stuff. We were all excited. Being on stage with all the lights and you can’t see the audience or what’s happening then mid-way you think wow this is happening. The world is watching this live right now. You’re literally thinking while you’re singing. That’s what happened to me during the second time around on the chorus. It was like oh shit, we’re here. It was cool.
DX: Talk about the making of that track and thoughts on its overall reception. Did you feel strange working with Wayne considering the rumors of romantic involvement?
Christina Milian: Well making that track, actually it was a demo. I had did that song maybe around two years ago. So I did that hook and played it a long time ago to Mack Maine and to the label. Mack always loved it and he always held onto that demo. Last September when I was shooting the show, we were in the studio listening to music and the entire album. Cortez was there too. Mack was like you should play “Start A Fire.” Normally Mack is someone who will say lets get Nicki on it, lets get Drake on it or lets get T.I. on it. He’s always one to push a record out to different people. He was like play it for Cortez. Cortez was like oh my gosh this is what we need and it’s a big record. I guess within that same week, they sent it to Wayne and he surprised me one day by playing it finished in the studio. I was like, wow, this is dope. I think the lyrics speak volumes of what’s happening in my life. It just went from there. I feel fortunate to have a single with him because that’s Wayne. To me, he’s legendary and iconic to me in Hip Hop and as an artist. It was a huge compliment to me to be on his record label but to be on his single as well.
DX: As you know, Weezy has come out in regarding the delays of Tha Carter V. What are your thoughts on Wayne’s feelings toward a label he’s been with since the beginning of his career?
Christina Milian: I know, there have been so many delays but it’s a great album. I can’t wait for the world to hear it. I can’t wait for him because that man works his ass off. I’ve never seen an artist work day and night as much as he does. The lyrics pumping through his head day and night without writing down a single thing. He just goes into the studio and knocks it out and he’s so clever. I’m on a couple of records on Tha Carter V so of course I want it to come out because I want the world to hear it and I’m a supporter of him. I just hope everything can work out between him and the record label on the business side. Hashtag #FreeThaCarterV!
DX: How would you describe the other collaboration on the project?
Christina Milian: I would describe the other track as more of a street record and so I’ve adjusted and work around the boys all the time. I wrote some lyrics that when it comes to females and men we can all relate to.
Christina Milian Tells The Differences Between YMCMB & A Major Label
DX: Considering your history with the major label machine, were you ever hesitant with joining YMCMB Cash Money? Has your attitudes toward the label changed since you’ve been there?
Christina Milian: Well, I love being at a major label. I had a family that was there and that was more traditional. This time, as big as YMCMB is and as mainstream as they are, it’s treated very independent. You’re not sitting there with A&Rs or anything like that. It’s a small company actually and it’s run by a lot of artists to be truthful. So even for me, it was very new for me when I first signed because I was used to developing myself amongst a record label full of staff. Now, it’s about having the opportunity to independently do it on my own. In that time, I had learn about taking control of things and actually saying I have an idea but the only ones who are going to make sure that happens is me and my team. Luckily, they put in a lot of trust to their artists to say if you come over here, we’ll allow you to do your own thing. At the end of the day, win or lose, it all falls down on you. You have to give it your all. I enjoy it and I’ll never stopping in the studio and not making music. Right now, having that brand by my side is going to be a good situation for me.
DX: Besides what “Start A Fire” is doing for ThaCarter V, where does that place you in regards to your own solo work?
Christina Milian: My solo album is pretty much all done. If you watch the new show; Christina Milian Turned Up, (shameless plug) it features different songs that are going to be on my album. Most importantly my single called “Rebel” and we’ll be shooting the video for that within the time-period while the season’s happening because I want to release it near its end and obviously all the stuff that’s developing with the label. That business stuff happening with the label might take a little time for things but in the mean time, I’m working on music to put out. If the boys are putting out a mixtape, then guess what? I’m going to do one to because I believe we need content and people to hear what I’m doing instead of holding on to it.
DX: Both you and Wayne were relatively young when you guys entered the entertainment industry. How did your working relationship grow to where it is now?
Christina Milian: We crossed paths a couple of times. I kind-of met Wayne before I met him physically. Remember when everyone had the two-ways and they were passing your number to the next person. One day I was like who is this? Is this really you? I used to just be friends with people on my two-way back then just because I was always traveling and didn’t have friends physically around me. It was just me and my mom so I made friends via phone just to have people to talk to. When you’re a teenager, you’re usually on the phone but for me it was the two-way. Plus, you always felt more clever when you’re writing. I actually e-met him a long time ago when we were probably seventeen or eighteen years old. We crossed paths very rarely but it was around the time I was interested in getting off of Interscope that the opportunity came to meet Wayne and play him some music. When I went to the studio, I played him some music. The next day, he called and my team [and we] told him we were trying to get off the label. Wayne said he wanted to help me get off the label and sign [me]. It was like oh that’s so cool. After that, he helped out with that and I eventually signed to Young Money. Since then, I’d say that our bond was created this past year. We would see each other and I would come play music for him but this past year, I worked with him and felt more apart of the Young Money family. In that time, it feels special to spend time with your people. It’s only so much you can tell them about your business than when they physically see it. That kind-of happened more-so now.
Balancing The Difficult Life As Reality Television Star And Actress
HipHopDX: Alongside getting your career back on track as a singer and actress, Christina Milian Turned Up sees you helping sister Liz with her food truck business. How are you managing to do all of this all at once, star in a reality television show and live as a full-time mom to boot?
Christina Milian:The reality TV show alone is the most stressful. With all the things that I do on the daily, I thought I put a lot of energy into what I do on the daily prior to this but when I did the show, I was like wow. Not really how I was going to do that because I was doing all of that but at the same time, it puts on a lot of stress where you have to be a superwoman. Between filming time or shooting a scene, you’re answering emails and answering questions. You might be moody, there have been times where I have been moody because I was not prepared for this because you’re trying to be yourself along with protecting your entity as a family and yourself because the world is just so fickle. I managed to do it because after I had my daughter, I just forced myself to have the energy to do it. When you have that mentality and understand that, you’ll make time for anything. So being a mother comes first for me and being in the entertainment field allows me to involve my daughter in a lot of ways. When she’s not filming with me, she’s in the studio with me or I’ll bring her to sets. I’m able to intertwine a lot of things. These damn phones are the answers. They’re the saving grace. You can get everything done without having to be in an office.
DX: Speaking of Cuba, have any plans on making a trip down there soon with Obama opening the gates? Plan on making a trip there eventually?
Christina Milian: Hell yeah!!
Liz Milian: I plan on opening a restaurant there.
Christina Milian: I plan on shooting next season there. We’re all excited. This is an opportunity to go back into our ancestry. These are conversations we’ve had with our parents. This is our upbringing and were our ancestors come from and to not have the ability to go over there and experience that has always been that mystery to us. To know we come from an island where people look like us with the storytelling, food, music and everything that drives them has always been a myth. Now that’s going to be our reality and great for our kids as well. Yeah, we’ll be going for sure.
DX: Going the reality TV route, were there any trepidation concerning privacy of your child or the stigma it has within the acting world?
Christina Milian: I was cautious in the case of what you said, I’ve been acting for a long time and as a professional career you always want to protect that. You don’t see a lot of professional actors do reality but it’s a new day and age where you have to create your own path. You can’t base it on what everyone else is going to do or how they’re going to be successful. To me, we’ve always been independent on how we create our success and I think this is very special because it has a lot to do with family. We have such a great story to tell and who wants to see it in a book when we’re old. Let’s live it on TV and laugh at it. It’s like having a video camera for the first time and shooting family videos. Of course, the world is going to see it but this is our reality.
Liz Milian: I love it, do you know how many times we’ve sat around, someone says I didn’t say that and you reply with I wish someone was filming you right now. Now someone is and it’s going to be hilarious to look back at those times.
DX: One day over the holidays, I decided to watch A Snow Globe Christmas…
Christina Milian: Oh you did? That’s my favorite. I still watch that movie. My daughter actually asked me to play it for her a couple of times, too. It’s cool to know that you can do something before her time and she gets excited to watch her mom work. I’m sure whatever is going through her mind, she has such a huge imagination. She’s watching this fantasy on another level where her mom is in a snow globe. [It] must be something. Whatever is created in her mind, I can only imagine because I was a very imaginative child myself. It’s great to see mommy work because it gives her a better understanding of why sometimes my hours are so long or why I’m not home every day. At least she understands it when she watches television or hears the music.
DX: Considering that was an Asylum Productions film, does that mean your fans will see you in a Sharknado sequel eventually?
Christina Milian: [Laughter] You know what’s so funny? They asked me to be in Sharknado 3 as a cameo. I swear they did. I answered back and I was like you know a lot of people watched that damn movie. It may be sort of fun to be eaten by a shark in the middle of a tornado. The last one got a lot of high ratings but I don’t know where that conversation left off. I gotta look that up in the emails.
Christina Milian Describes Her Solo Music Career Pre-YMCMB
DX: Will the world ever get a true release of music you’ve done with The-Dream?
Christina Milian: At least half of the music that I did with him has already leaked. I would probably say that there is probably four or five songs that the world haven’t heard. One of them to this day is still my favorite and I still keep it in my playlist called “Notice.” I don’t know if the world will get to hear that. If anyone wants to leak it out whoever has it. Someone stole my computer that had all my songs that I did with him and that’s all that I had left. I’d probably would have to ask Dream and he has so many songs, that we’d have to know which hard-drive he would even have that music in but I’m sure it’s somewhere.
DX: It’s been over ten years since your breakout hit “Dip It Low.” The industry was very different back then than it is now. Do you see yourself making another hit like that in this day and age?
Christina Milian: Absolutely. I thank God for that time. It was a great time in music. I’ve experienced all different times within music. Even when I first got signed, that’s when executives were throwing away money and spending half a million dollars on music videos. Now people are getting $50 thousand if you’re lucky but they’re still getting the same results. So, I feel the music I’m making right now is no different than what that was and I believe that it will succeed and I pray beyond that. I feel that this time around, lyrically and musically, I know myself a lot more. Whither I’m doing and interview or singing a song, I feel that I’m a lot more real and not creating the perfect answer because we all are imperfect. I feel like we learn from our experience and I’m way more experienced now. People these days are very realistic and I feel like my music speaks volumes of that.
DX: With that in mind in terms of lyrically, where are you as a songwriter? Is that done?
Christina Milian: Well I’m songwriting for myself. So basically, my focus has been on me because I definitely don’t have the time to go in with anybody else. Usually all the songs that I’ve ever done or written for anyone else have been songs that I initially wrote for myself and didn’t fit with the album. Then another artist would come and just record it.
DX: My favorite moment from you during my teenage years was the Kim Possible theme song? Do people still come up to you and recite it?
Christina Milian: People still have that as their ringtone. I never realized that show would give me so much exposure. It’s great because people have grown with me, even with that damn song. Didn’t know so many people were watching Kim Possible like that. Because of that song, it actually inspired me to do my own musical animated artist because a lot of people thought I was Kim Possible. So over ten years ago, I thought up this idea with my mother and created this character. It wasn’t until last year where we met a company that could help us develop it and we got four songs in the can along with music video. All that stuff is going to be released as well. Her name is Shelby Star.