As Tiana Brown from the Fox’s Emmy-nominated hit television series Empire, Serayah is sweet, slick and sultry. It’s a triad of the most sought-after qualities of any silver and small screen entertainment star who’s healthily gifted in the Hollywood circle.
As a singing-songwriting-dancing triple threat on a different set of cameras for her “Driving Me” music video, however, the 22-year-old artist is not only digging back into ‘90s R&B vibes, but the looks, the moves and the fun of the genre’s famously nostalgic era, too. And most importantly, she’s doing it right.
That first indication that Serayah has her ‘90s R&B vinyls spinning in the right direction is the name attached to the song’s feature: Atlanta’s supreme soundboard master and super producer Jazze Pha. As the hit maker behind several female solo artists of hip-hop and R&B’s golden ages (like Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Trina and Toni Braxton), the Sho’nuff Records CEO’s knack for smash hits matched with Serayah’s musical versatility beams from the track and visuals. Organically enough, none of it started with lyrics and visual creatives jotted down on pen and paper either.
“We just went into the booth, had some harmonies, and we threw words in the air, and they stuck,” Serayah tells BET.com of the song’s composition. “We were going for a more playful way to talk about boys driving you crazy or whoever you're in a relationship with driving you crazy. We wanted to come back at it with different words. We brought back words like ‘tenderoni’ –– Bobby Brown. Jazze Pha had a lot to do with the song.”
But, all of that channeled in front of the cameras for the official music video was all Serayah’s idea. As a proud ‘90s baby, the California-bred songstress threw on classic looks and choreo from Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” visuals with a tinge of Aaliyah and TLC and the perfect amount of originality. The rhythm already lends itself to radio-ready energy anyway. It's the pop of ‘90s flare that's an added bonus.
"For me, it was about what I grew up looking at and admiring," she said. "It was about why I wanted to be an entertainer in the first place. I've always loved dancing, and I've always loved shows and the way people like Michael and Janet Jackson put on a show. It's more of an expression for me, and the song is so playful in that way, so I felt like we could go there."
Serayah has been gearing up toward an EP for about a year, rolling out the single as a precursor for what’s to come of the unnamed project. Assists, features and production details are still under wraps for now. But for the ladies of their early 20-somethings and even teenage years, Serayah’s target fans, the project will definitely be worth a listen.
"I'm just really excited for people to get a look into me and the way that I view music," Serayah expressed. "These are personal stories for me– dealing with relationships and boys. That's what teenagers and girls my age are dealing with right now. I'm just excited to be able to relate with them. The EP is the goal."
Check out her first release with the official “Driving Me” music video up top.
(Photo: Rogers & Cowan)