Kris Stephens isn't yet a household name, but the singer-songwriter from Maryland watched her star ascend last week after the release of the video for "Compliments," Tank's latest single on which she appears with T.I. Both men have recognized the 25-year-old artist for her songwriting skills and are now helping guide her burgeoning solo career.
"I met Tank in Maryland actually, but we kept in contact, and he worked on my solo project as an EP [executive producer]," Stephens said in an interview with BET.com. "The chemistry was really off the top and grew organically. I guess he saw a lot of him in me as far as my drive."
Stephens first linked up with the R&B vet six years ago; shortly after dropping out of business school to pursue a music career full time. She had taken a risk and walked away from a solid job in city government to work at her dream.
"I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do," Stephens said of her days studying business management at Tompkins University. "I was trying to figure my life out and before I knew it I was literally in class writing songs, not paying attention to anything. That's when it hit."
She moved down to Atlanta and briefly joined a girl group, but it didn't pan out. Tank took an interest, however, and the two have been writing songs together ever since — especially for his latest album, This Is How I Feel.
On the set for the shoot of the "Compliments" video, Stephens built up a rapport with ATL rap heavyweight T.I., as well.
"He heard my music and was like 'I’m down,'" she said. "Him and Tank are really good friends and they decided to go into business together on my behalf."
Stephens has been recruited to write songs for Tip's own girl group, the OMG Girlz. And she's even collaborating with Mrs. T.I. — Tameka "Tiny" Cottle.
"Tameka has a very creative mind. She just knows good music — she has a great musical ear," she said.
With the guidance from her two accomplished mentors Stephens is adjusting to life in the spotlight while working on material for her debut project.
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(Photo: Courtesy Atlantic Records)