VIBE VIXEN: Tell me what should fans expect from The MF Life outside of the love and heartbreak.
MELANIE: Fans should expect and can expect a really, really strong, really well produced album. You know, I really really do think I worked with the best of the best personally. I think that every producer and artist I got featured on this album really brings something special to this album that I don’t think anyone else has on their album, and it’s a power, it’s a strength, it’s an energy; it’s a very strong body of work I believe. I believe that the songs people have heard and the things that have been released, when they get the album, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. That’s not necessarily the bread and butter of the album. There’s really great hidden gems on this album, and I just think that it’s a really strong album that gives appeal to both men and women, which I think is a tough thing to do. I’m a girl’s girl, but I also appreciate music that speaks to men. I listen to a lot of hip-hop ‘cause of my brother, so it just kinda comes out of me.
With your recent Grammy wins, do you feel more validated now, more solidified in your career?
Hell yeah, absolutely. I don’t put too much pressure or weight on myself for the win, for the nomination, but it’s a great feeling. It truly is an amazing feeling to know you have the respect of the Academy and your peers in this community of artist and industry. It’s a real boost of confidence for me because I don’t really let it get to my head. When I started The MF Life, I had a real low in my confidence level because I came off such a high on the first album, and it was such a new experience. I realized people were checking for me, they were looking for me, and I really had to boost my own confidence in writing and getting in the studio and getting creative because I almost felt like I couldn’t do it again. What if I’m not as good the second time as I was the first time? And to know I’ve achieved these kinds of things in such a short career is really a great thing, so now when I know people are checking for me, they’re gonna see [the Grammy awards] and that means something. It’s such a huge validation for me to say I’ve been a part of Grammy music history and to be on a collaboration with such a cool ass dude like Cee-Lo Green. It’s a great feeling for me, and it really does give me the inspiration to continue to really outdo myself.
After your first record, during that low period, what were your thoughts and doubts?
It got pretty low for me. I started to have a lot of emotional turmoil with my mental state of mind and my body ’cause I was exhausted. People don’t really understand what an artist really has to go through. It’s such an intense schedule; one day I’m in L.A., the next day I’m in Switzerland, the next day I’m in Italy and the next day I’m back in L.A. Mind you, I’m performing in that time in between, I’m meeting people, I’m talking and, you know, I’m on a different schedule. I came back off of the Alicia Keys tour, and I just hit the wall. Like, straight-up, I hit the wall. I crashed; I said to my team, ‘I’m no good to anyone right now. I need to recover,’ and it really affected my confidence level in my approach to my job, my mind when it came to everything around me. I started to victimize myself in a way and it’s because when your body is not healthy, it really does produce negative emotions and energy.
You were angry.
Oh, I was angry. I started to feel like I couldn’t trust anything around me. I started to feel like I was in the dark about a lot of things, and I really wasn’t. It was just my state of mind from working so hard. That’s the hardest I’ve ever gone to promote an album, to be on tour, to try to manage a personal/professional life. It was insane to have people know me and to demand some sort of attention from or require attention from me. It was something I had to build a muscle to, and I had to take a step back. I really changed my entire diet. I went to see doctors, and I really just said that I need to get control of my life again because I really feel like I’m losing control of myself and I did. And I started to get back to the things that balanced me out again. That’s really where the concept of The MF Life came [from], the balance of life.
When was this, when you started to recuperate from all the craziness?
It was really a couple months after. Truthfully, I just needed a time to just not do anything, sleep and exercise and get my dietary regimen back in the right places. It was a slow creep back into the process ’cause I had already started doing songs before the Alicia Keys tour overseas. When I came back from Europe, it was when I had lost weight, I was skinny, it was so weird.
All that pressure can break a person, but it is nice to see that you did recover from that dark place.
Well I’ll tell you this, it’s not everybody has a team like I have a team, a label and a management team that care and respect me as a person, not as a product because some teams would have been like, Suck it up. Then, you end up [on] drugs and try to commit suicide and it’s not a good thing. People forget that artists are not products; we are people first, so there’s just a certain expectation that you see with artists now that are just like go, go, go all the time. That’s not realistic. There’s turmoil going on behind those scenes ’cause you just can’t. As a human, you really have to take the time. Beyoncé’s a perfect testament to it when she was like, I took the time off to figure out how to be a wife and to cook and to clean. Whether it’s two months or two years, at some point, every person, every artist is gonna take that moment and be like, ‘Yo, I need to slow it down to figure out who I am outside of this.’