2005 was quite an interesting year for music. Rap icon Jay Z had just broken ties with his Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke the previous year and was tapped to be the president of Def Jam Records. Looking to add a few new additions to the label roster, Jigga went the R&B route, recruiting Teairra Mari to help usher in a new era for Roc-A-Fella.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Teairra Mari was the product of a musical household and got her introduction to performing in large part to her grandmother who was a former backup singer for Aretha Franklin. After recording demos in her cousins basement-studio, Mari caught the ear of K.I.S.S. Productions, who took the young singer under their wing and molded the sound of her first official album, titled Get Away. Released in 2003, the EP was hit locally and further established Mari as a force to be reckoned with.
The growing buzz would land Mari an audition for L.A. Reid, Chairman of Island Def Jam, who offered her a record deal on the spot. The singer's 2005 debut would coincide with the beginning of Jay Z's tenure at Def Jam and served as the first album release under his regime. After being tapped as the newest addition of Roc-A-Fella and dubbed "The Princess of The Roc," the songstress would unleash 'Roc-A-Fella Presents: Teairra Mari' on August 2, 2005.
The collection debuted at the No. 5 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and sell 69,000 copies in its first week of release. While the album's lead single, "Make Her Feel Good," was one of the more memorable hits of that summer, it failed to make a dent on Soundscan, leading Mari' to be dropped from the label before even getting the chance to record a sophomore project.
Mari has yet to live up to her star potential. Nevertheless, her debut album was a great effort and never got the credit it truly deserved. With that noted, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and highlight five standout songs that showcase this underrated gem.
Teairra Mari balls out on "MVP" and stakes her claim for the top slot on any man's roster. Produced by All Star, the beat is an epic ditty powered by relentless drums and riffs from an electric guitar and gives the Motor City bred songstress ample room to work her magic over. Singing "I'm the franchise, the one you can't deny, I'm the only one for you and me / I'm the MVP, the number one wifey, that's why you're always running back to me," Mari proves to be the number one prospect and turns in a solid banger.
Produced by Cool & Dre and co-written by Andre Lyon and Marcello Valenzano, "Get Down Tonight" is sonically superb. A jam for the ladies fresh off of a breakup, the celebratory song features Mari taking the dance-floor by storm and in solidarity with all of the single chicks who trying to get their groove back. "This is for them booming systems / Them boomin' systems that got that bass," she chants.
The album continues its winning streak with "Phone Booth," a slow-rolling number that sees Mari reaching out to her boyfriend after an argument with her mother. "Damn my life ain't filled with nothing but drama / Just had the worst fight ever with my mama / She believe you got two or three on the come-up / Telling you loving me, but your going home to them," she sings. Mari shows signs of doubt, but ultimately goes out on a limb and trusts that the apple of her eye will swoop in for the rescue. Featuring lyrics relateable to most teenage girls caught up in puppy love, "Phone Booth" is a solid offering that displays the singer's ability to deliver standard ballads in addition to her more edgy cuts.
Produced by Sean Garrett, "Make Her Feel Good" contains a sample of Eric B. & Rakim's "My Melody" and is bolstered by crisp drum kicks and hand claps, giving the golden era-inspired tune a slight modern-day twist. "Do I have to tell a n---- how to touch me / Do I have to tell a n---- how to hold me / Do I have to tell a n---- when to call me / Do I have to tell a n---- when I'm lonely," the Detroit native asks on the song. The first single released from her debut effort, it successfully helped introduce Mari to her fans.
Teairra Mari turns in a favorable selection with the album cut, "Act Right," which sees the feisty vocalist slowing down the tempo a bit. Produced by Bryan Micheal Cox, the beat serves as a plush soundbed that's bolstered by live instrumentation and fits her vocals like a glove. One of the more sensuous offerings on the album, the song features Mari crooning passionately and sounds more akin to a grown and sexy musing than a teeny-bopper selection and makes for a stellar album cut that truly never got the burn it deserved.