Going from a teenager to an adult is always a tough transition, but for Warner Bros. recording artist Teairra Mari, that switch just came naturally. “I’ve always been super-advanced for my age,” says the 22-year-old R&B singer. “I was the girl who left out the door for school in sneakers, but carried heels in my book bag, and when I got to school, I changed into them. I’ve always had that in me.”
When Teairra Mari dropped the single “Make Her Feel Good” under Jay-Z’s Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam label, she was only 16, and thus, her image had to be just that, clean and 16. But nowadays, with the buzz around her popular-yet-controversial single, “Sponsor,” Teairra is showing the industry that she is far from a teenager. Teairra Mari’s grown-up image has heads turning, and the sexy new look is definitely helping to put her name back up in the mix.
“Sponsor,” Teairra’s recent single, is an up-tempo R&B cut that talks about a woman who “got herself a sponsor;” in other words, someone to pay her way. And with the negative perception around what many men perceive as “gold digging,” Teairra is dealing with a little bit of an industry backlash. “I didn’t write ‘Sponsor.' When I first heard it, I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t know if I want to do that song.’ But it was so catchy and I kept singing it when I would walk away, so [I decided] I’m gonna do it, but I’m going to do it sarcastically.” Teairra says if you really listen to the song, you can hear the sarcasm in her vocals.
“I always try to tell women, my sponsor is my job,” she defends. “There is nothing wrong with getting spoiled either. If your sponsor is your boyfriend, then that’s who he is. If you go to the movies with your man and you get to the checkout and he ain’t digging in his pocket to pay; guys are always expected to sponsor the movie night.”
But sponsors aside, Teairra is a young woman who's got her own, and she is working to keep it that way. The singer is simultaneously putting the finishing touches on a mixtape with DJ Drama titled “Point Of No Return,” a digital EP titled “Sincerely Yours” which will drop on August 17, and her upcoming sophomore album. Not only is she staying busy in the studio, she's also been putting in time on the movie set. Teairra's movie debut will be in the upcoming Ice Cube release, "Lottery Ticket." So this time, it's clear that Teairra Mari is in control of her own destiny.
Formerly under the guidance of her then-label head, Jay-Z, Teairra now knows firsthand that her hustle has to be on point, not just when it comes to music, but when it comes to the business. After being dropped from Def Jam in the aftermath of the changes that took place a few years ago, the Detroit-bred singer isn’t expecting anyone to hold her hand. In an interview back in 2008, Teairra seemed disturbed by not having heard from Jay-Z personally after being dropped, but nowadays she’s more understanding. “I haven’t talked to him [Jay-Z], but since I was released, he had this concert, I think it was last year, and he did a show in Detroit and my mom went. My mom said he was so nice to her, and I sent him an email thanking him and that was the last time we spoke. I told him that I wasn’t giving up and I was going to show him and make him proud.” She continued, “People just don’t understand that. People are always trying to get a negative response out of me. Business is business and until you are an executive or in the business, you really can’t speak. It’s no hard feelings, and I’m quite positive he has no hard feelings toward me.”