Quick Facts with Tiara Thomas: Singer Gives Details on ‘Dear Sallie Mae’ EP, Personal Favorites
Less than two years ago, Tiara Thomas had the idea to write a song to the beat of ‘Some Cut’ by Trillville. The song ‘Bad’ was born. The 24-year-old played the tune on the guitar for Kelson Camp, who produced the track. Months later, while riding around in a smoke-filled car in her hometown of Indianapolis, Ind., they heard ‘Bad’ on the radio for the first time. The two broke out in laughter.
“It’s funny because it’s really, really, really cool,” the singer tells TheDrop.fm. “And it is still now, ‘cause every city I go to, I jump in the car and put on the hip-hop station and ‘Bad’ comes on.”
Way before the song hit the airwaves, rapper Wale, who was working with Tiara at the time, added his own lyrics to ‘Bad’ and then released it as a single for ‘The Gifted,’ his latest album. Thomas was featured on the hook and in the ‘Bad’ music video. The song evolved once more when Rihanna took over Tiara’s vocals for the remix.
The song eventually climbed to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. With a top 40 hit under her belt, things began rolling for Thomas. In June, she signed to Rico Love’s Division1 imprint under Interscope Records.
But with a little fame always comes some drama. Following her new record deal, rapper Wale expressed some disappointment in her move to Rico Love’s camp during an interview with Hot 97. He had worked with Tiara for two years and didn’t expect her to sign with Love.
“Their situation met through [me],” Mr. Folarin revealed. “I was recording with the situation she’s in now and they met. It’s just the game though. My thing is I don’t really believe in paperwork too soon cause I like to show and prove what I can do.”
A few months later on an August afternoon, Tiara stops by TheDrop.fm’s office in New York during her promo run for her forthcoming EP, ‘Dear Sallie Mae.’ She opens up about her past working relationship with Wale and insists there is no beef between them. “I was never signed with Wale,” she explains.
Tiara says she met Wale in a club in Atlanta, while she was in college, and sent him music soon after. This led to him using her song ‘The Cloud’ on his mixtape, ‘More About Nothing.’ Through Wale, she had the opportunity to do studio sessions with Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, Wyclef Jean and Rico Love.
“I was never offered a record deal by their [Wale’s] camp until after the ‘Bad’ record had come out as a single. Six months prior to that, before Wale was even on the song, Rico had offered me a record deal. And I was really feeling Division1 and Interscope and I felt most comfortable in that situation,” she continues.
Moving forward, the chanteuse is ready for people to hear more of what she’s made of on her forthcoming ‘Dear Sallie Mae’ EP, due this fall. It’s obviously named after the student loan corporation she borrowed money from to finish school at Ball State University — she graduated in 2012.
“There came a time in college where I said, ‘Yo, I’m over this, I don’t want to do this.’ So I told my mom, I think I’m going to drop out. And she said, ‘You took out all those student loans. You’re gonna go get that degree,’” Tiara reveals.
Her new single ‘Tell Me Something,’ off the EP, is one of her favorite songs she has written. “It gives me the same feeling I had when I wrote ‘Bad.’ As in, when people hear the hook they’ll be like, ‘That was the realest s— ever.’”
Her songwriting chops are rooted in oldies that her dad introduced her to, including Elton John, Cameo, Michael Jackson, Prince and Marvin Gaye. But she was mostly shaped by 1990s R&B — from Aaliyah to 702 to Blaque and especially ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ That album inspired her to pick up the guitar, which she taught herself to play at the age of 12.
“Everybody that came out in the ’90s was amazing,” she states. “I still listen to a lot of ’90’s music now. That’s the vibe that I was on when I wrote ‘Bad.’”
In the coming months, Tiara is looking to take that feel and push it forward with her own style. “I’m ready for people to see what type of artist I am, and how versatile I can be,” she shares. “It’s not just [me] busting out with the guitar all the time. It’s a big thing. I want them to see how real and honest the music is.”
While visiting TheDrop.fm, Tiara Thomas took part in our Quick Facts and gave us the scoop on some of her favorite things outside of R&B. Who is her celebrity crush? Which rapper does she think would win in an arm wrestling match? Check out her answers below.
Watch Tiara Thomas’ ‘Tell Me Something’ Lyric Video