G-Unit's former First Lady speaks about leaving the house that 50 built, why there's no bad blood, and her upcoming Vh1 reality show.
Every million dollar man needs a lady. Expanding Rap cliques depend on talented chicks. Dr. Dre had Lady of Rage, Notorious B.I.G. had Lil Kim, Jay-Z and Nas shared Foxy Brown, and we're presently seeing Lil Wayne brand Nicki Minaj to be the next starlet. 50 Cent and G-Unit tried to do the same with Brooklyn-born Olivia. However, there was one problem: the bullymouth Rap outfit seemed unaware how to brand an R&B singer to the masses. Although Olivia assisted hits like "Candy Shop" and "So Amazing," the singer did not want to be reduced to a Nate Dogg, off-the-bench assistant role. As a result, save for M.O.P., Olivia was the only G-Unit soldier to discharge quietly.
After two years of silence, Olivia updates her career to HipHopDX. Although you won't get any bad blood from the woman who was inadvertently involved in Game vs. 50 Cent's war of words, you will find an exuding confidence that she believes in herself. Regardless of the blunder of marketing her as such, Olivia has a rapper's demeanor at times. And with her new mixtape Under The Radar coming, perhaps the former First Lady of G-Unit will take a page from her former boss' book. One door closes, pry through a window. With four labels courting Olivia, and Vh1 giving her the latest "celeb-reality" treatment, those closed doors are opening quickly. Allow Olivia to reintroduce herself.
HipHopDX: Of course we all know you as the R&B singer that "was" down with G-Unit. Since the departure many of us would like to know what Olivia's been up to lately?
Olivia: I've been touring overseas the past two years, doing movies. I've been everywhere. I've been on my grind man and my new mixtape is coming, Under the Radar. I'm working with DJ Whoo Kid [and] Sha Money XL so this will be my second mixtape. I'm really hype right now.
DX: So you call your mixtape Under the Radar. With the power that G-Unit had in its prime, is this title choice to verify you didn't receive your proper shine at the label?
Olivia: Definitely that's why I called it that on purpose. That why the album is called Show The World, because I feel like I have a lot of talent to show. Most people don't realize how talented I am. So I figured this is a better time to show everybody now.
DX: What really happened with G-Unit?
Olivia: It was just a conflict with everything, being that their all rappers and I was an R&B artist. We had no presence at the label and I did everything through 50 [Cent]. I didn't have to call [Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records Chairman] Jimmy Iovine, I would call 50 directly and we would try to figure things out. He was marketing me as a rapper, and I coulnd’t get mad at him, because that was all he knew. I can't get mad at him, because that was a formula he was taught himself. We just couldn't get it right, because we had nobody to tell him what R&B music was and what direction to take me. That was the only big issue and other than that I’m still working with everybody.
DX: So even though you're not with the label anymore and left on good terms, what caused you to maintain those relationships to continue working with them?
Olivia: It was always good terms, even though we split. I never had any issues, as Sha Money has always been my big brother for years, Whoo Kid and I are cool as well. That’s never gonna change even though I'm not on the label. I'ma keep it moving regardless and they always knew I was a good person, so they just wanted to get down with the movement you know.
DX: When things got hectic and turmoil started to occur at the label with the departure of The Game, then Young Buck. How you felt about the situation with the drama between those two artists and 50?
Olivia: I never really got into any of that, because I don't do Hip Hop beef. I'm just here to sing and look pretty. I got caught in it, because I was a part of the group. It is what is is, everybody beefs when business isn't right or if they're not getting along with somebody. I wasn't really focused on that, I was just focused on what I was trying to do and leave the label, but 50 didn't want me to leave.
DX: How you feel about formula, when a male-dominated crew hits it big and then they always go looking for a first lady. What was your mindset when G-Unit picked you to be the Queen?
Olivia: It felt good and it was great at the time. I had just left J Records and was already on Interscope at the time. It only made sense being on Interscope and at the time the biggest artists in the game were already there with Eminem, [Dr.] Dre, and 50. It made sense to me being the first lady on G-Unit, that's why I did the deal when they asked. We did some great hits over there with "Candy Shop," "So Amazing," and "Best Friend." After a while it just wasn't right for me as I felt like I keep doing feature [appearances]. I was looked at as the person that kept doing the hooks and people wasn't looking at me as a solo artist. They look at me as if I was a part of the group and I wasn’t part of the group, I was a solo artist on the label.
DX: So how were the adjustments made, doing a 360 from coming in with a top notch crew to re-branding yourself as a solo artist?
Olivia: It was a adjustment, because now I'm getting back to where I started. I had to adjust to being with them. [Laughs] I didn't know about all that drama and stuff, all that stuff was new to me. I have a lot of male friends, but I never had to deal with stuff like that I've always been a solo artist I was just signed to G-Unit.
DX: Well now you now have a chance to let people know who is Olivia the solo artist. So tell us your early influences?
Olivia: Well, Anita Baker is one and most people don't expect me to say that. I'm a huge fan of Anita Baker, along with Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, and Bob Marley - that's my Jamaican roots. Brandy is also one of favorites and Joe.
DX: Brandy, huh? I know you were all on that song "I Wanna Be Down"... [Laughs]
Olivia: [Laughs] Definitely, I used to come home from high school jamming to that joint.
DX: You have new management with Dollaz Unlimited, in which you felt this was a great way to relaunch your career, how did you and your manager Rich, finalize business to get you back out?
Olivia: The way that Rich [Dollaz] and I actually hooked up is actually funny. We met through a mutual friend that actually works at Jive [Records]. I told him I was looking for new management after I left Violator [Entertainment]. It's only been like six months and we just work for both of us. I gave him my CD, we talked over some things, and made it happen. Its about to be even crazier with me and Rich, there is no stopping us. A lot of artist don't even know about selecting the proper manager. First of all, you should know your own business, instead of having your manager tell you everything what to do. You should know what you're talking about as well so both of y'all don't look crazy. A lot of managers don't even talk to their artists on day-to-day basis and Richard is great at that. When I was at Violator I didn't have that. Chris [Lighty] would always try to put me with the other artists. I don't have that here with Rich trying to put me with other artist to do anything. A lot of these managers are sneaky and will try to get over on you.
DX: Rumor says that you have a bidding war going on right now with a few major labels. What's going on?
Olivia: I can't give you no scoop, but right now it's four labels vying for my attention. I got a lot big things in the works and I haven't touched on my Vh1 show. I can't talk too much about that, but the girl will be on fire this summer. I'm about to be shutting a lot of people down, I'm excited.
DX: Well the readers of DX want to know more. Can you give us a little more insight on the Vh1 deal?
Olivia: I just gave you the best insight, I told you it was on Vh1. [Laughs] You probably thought I was going to be on the Food Network channel or something.
DX: But that's bits and pieces, we need more than that...
Olivia: Nah, I can't tell you that, I'm under contract. [Laughs]
DX: Reflecting back on coming back out, how does it feel to wake up to say you're back?
Olivia: It feels great and what really excites me is the people who didn't believe. I already knew I was going to be good, I already had paper before I was 18 years old as I started out modeling. I'ma be good, I don't care what nobody say, my family is good and I was raised right. I don't have yes-men that's gonna tell me bullshit. I can't even explain how excited I am.
Visit Olivia on Twitter (@OliviaLongott) and MySpace.