2pac, missy and sade... the records that changed ciara's life
It’s been over two years since Ciara - sound of your teens and R&B goddess - last touched down in the UK, and a lot has happened in that time. Two albums, a whistle-stop US tour, a Cavalli campaign, and the birth of her first child, Future Junior.
While Goodies, Like A Boy and 1, 2 Step might be ingrained into the nation's consciousness as the soundtrack to gossip and growing up, Cici's managed to prove that's she's no one trick R&B pony. Her latest album, Jackie (named after her mother) showcases older, wiser, stronger Cici. Mature, yes, but still able to pack a punch. From the Missy Elliott rap verse in That's How I'm Feeling to I Bet, which is no diss track, but a calm and measured 'Fuck You' to her alleged adulterous ex, Future.
There are a lot of reasons why we love the R&B powerhouse. From the throwback noughties sing-alongs that we'll never tire of, to her unrivalled dance ability, to her simply showing off how peng she is on Instagram, there's a Ciara for everyone and a generation that grew up with her. Sound tracking every pivotal moment, she's given us tunes for the party, ballads for the breakups and anthems for the squad. Naturally, we wanted to know the songs that get her going.
At this weekend's Wireless Festival, i-D kicked back with the Goodies hitmaker, before she showed the UK exactly what it had been missing…
What's the most inspirational song in the world?
It has to be Never Would Have Made It by Marvin Sapp, because it's just amazing. He's saying, 'I never would have made it without God's love', and sometimes I go to that song when I need to be inspired. If I'm feeling stressed, and I want to get my emotions of my chest, or if I'm feeling challenged or have a decision to make, I'll listen to that song. It's so powerful, faith is important and this track is like a reminder; I can make it with God's love. It gives me a feeling I need, music is so important, it soothes my soul and it eases my mind. I know that I can listen to this song and it's going to help give me the feeling that I need.
What is your ultimate gym song?
I prefer to listen to whole albums in the gym rather than individual songs or a playlist. But I'm going to say, Michael Jackson - Don't Stop Till You Get Enough. If you're in the gym, this is what you need lyrically. I put on the whole Michael Jackson 25th anniversary edition of the Thriller album and work out to that. The energy just doesn't stop, it keeps going and going and that's really motivating for me.
What is the quintessential, genre-defining R&B song?
Oh wow. It's so hard to pick one, but Missy Elliott's Hot Boyz is a great, great song. It's just a classic track, the attitude in that song is so crazy, the melody is totally nuts. As a person, she's just so infectious and that really comes through in this track. It was a one of a kind record, all the features of that song make it super cool. Sonically it's just next level, it's almost futuristic.
What's the song you'd play to a room full of strangers?
I'd play my song, Give Me Love, because it's me! That's how I'd introduce myself. It's a pretty fun song. Every time I've played it for people they've really loved it, I think it's got a great energy, which was important to me when I was making it. It's a good party starter, I'm proud of that track.
What is Future Junior's favourite song?
Dance Like We're Making Love. He really likes it! I think this must be his favourite of my songs. He actually sings it! If I sing a part of it, he'll sing the part after. He loves the melody, he does the 'ah ah ah' bit. He dances along too, he moves his knees up and down. He's a very musical kid.
What do you listen to before you go on stage?
I listen to oldies before I go on stage; I like to be a little old school. My favourite song of all time is How To Mend a Broken Heart by Al Green. I know it seems like a sad song to hear before you go out and perform, but I just really love the melody. Something about the melody and the way the guitar falls on the track, the way that it moves on the song, everything is so perfectly placed. I could listen to that song over and over and over.
What do you listen to, to relax?
I love anything by Sade. She's another one I like to listen to before I go on stage too. Her music is soothing, it's really relaxing, it takes me to a calm place, it takes my mind to a free place. That's one of the qualities I love about music.
What's the best song to get over a breakup with?
My song, I Bet! It has to be. That song was inspired by my real life breakup experience. It felt like a necessary song. I needed to write it. In life, there's the three M's and they're the most powerful thing on earth; music, money and medicine. From my perspective, music is of course the most powerful of the three. It heals your soul when medicine can't; it gives you a feeling that money can't buy. It's just so powerful. When this comes on it gives you a feeling, the lyrics speak to your heart, your soul and your mind. I hope that people going through a breakup find this track inspiring.
Tell us the song that reminds you of your squad?
My girls! It's gotta be TLC, No Scrubs. You think about all your girls singing that song together, obviously everyone knows all the words. No Scrubs is great, it's girl power and it's just so much fun. All TLC songs give you that feeling, but this one really reminds me of my girls, it's so nostalgic.
What's your earliest musical memory?
I remember driving around with my dad when I was a kid, and he'd play So Many Tears by 2Pac, and we would just buuuuuump to that song! I knew every line. I love the melody, I always look for the melody in a song, but then the way he delivers it, the lyrics, it was just really special, his cadence on the whole record was insane. It's poetry at its best.
Jackie is out now.
Text Shannon Mahanty
Photography Shaniqwa Jarvis
Styling Damian Collins
[The P.Y.T Issue, No. 302, Pre-Fall 2009]