R&B vocalists tend to come and go swiftly, while Hip-Hop pays little regard to what abyss the singer eventually falls. Such is the case with Olivia, who caught our attention with her popular debut single “Bizounce”, then virtually vanished from the scene. As the first artist signed to Clive Davis’ nascent J Records, the Brooklyn native found herself at the mercy of label executives, who were uncertain of her position in the R&B world.
Despite the setbacks with her first deal, and hoping to finally display her true colors, Olivia has plunged into the arms of 50 Cent’s all-male G-Unit squadron as the first and only lady, and sole singer in the crew. Amidst lyrical warfare between 50 Cent and the world, and growing internal beef within G-Unit, Olivia talks with AllHipHop.com Alternatives about her Jamaican heritage, new career moves, and her work with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, whom she lovingly refers to as “Fif”.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: First off, I read somewhere that you were born in 1971, which would make you 34 years old. That sounds very incorrect.
Olivia: Who told you that? [laughs] It’s 1981. See, somebody had told me that one before too, and I was like, where did they get that information from.
AHHA: It was somewhere on the Internet…
Olivia: That’s funny. You was like, ‘hmm, that’s not right.’ [laughing]
AHHA: Yeah, so I had to ask. After your first single, it seemed to fans like you disappeared. What exactly happened with that situation with J Records?
Olivia: Well, I was the very first artist signed to J Records, and I think what it was, I was the experimental one, so nobody knew which direction they wanted to put me in. And since I was a brand new artist, they didn’t think I knew which direction I should go, so I had to actually listen to what the company wanted me to do. They just really didn’t know what to do with me, is what it was. But I’m glad for the experience, I’m not hurt or ashamed or anything like that. It was a learning experience for me, and now I’m in a much, much better place. And, you know, everything happens for a reason, you gotta go through something to take you to another era in your life anyway.
AHHA: But then, when people heard you were signed to G-Unit, they were really surprised.
Olivia: I think it’s great. Like Fif [50 Cent] said, I’m here to diversify the perception of G-Unit ‘cause it is all men. Now, I can speak from the women’s perspective, and I think most people want to see me back. Everywhere, I’ve been, they’ve been real excited and happy that I’m on another label, and they wanna see what’s gon’ be next for me and how my music is now, because it’s nothing like what it was on J Records. Like I said, I was doing what they wanted me to do. So now everybody will actually see what the real Olivia is this time ‘cause Fif just let me go out and do my thing. He just got me the best producers, and I wrote all the music on the album. I only didn’t write two songs on this album, and I’m just real excited. I’m just real happy, and I can’t wait to see what the public thinks of me.
AHHA: Were you able to work with Eminem or Dr. Dre in the studio?
Olivia: Well, Dre produced a record. Of course, Fif is on a song, Banks is on a song; Buck and Yayo are on there too. I had a lot of producers on there. I had new producers called The Movement, out of L.A, they’re really hot.
AHHA: People want to know how exactly you hooked up with G-Unit.
Olivia: I was dropped from J [Records], and I was actually signed by Interscope. And Fif had heard my music while I was at Interscope, and he had called me up and said, ‘I heard your stuff, and I really think it’s hot, and I want you to be the first lady of G-Unit.’ So I took probably like a day, and I called him back and I told him, ‘yeah I’m ready, let’s do this.’ So that’s how I came on G-Unit.
AHHA: What are your thoughts on all the controversy surrounding Game and 50 Cent?
Olivia: People are always gonna start rumors, I think, regardless of any situation, just so that people in your camp can be torn apart, just ‘cause they see how hot everybody is. So I just think, it’s a jealousy factor and everybody just starts rumors. Everybody’s fine in the crew.
AHHA: So do you try to stay away from all the beef that surrounds them?
Olivia: Yeah, I stay neutral. I have nothing to do with it. I’m a girl, I don’t wanna beef. I just wanna get dressed, go do my show, and support my crew. But Im’a support 50 no matter what he does. I don’t think he’s wrong in any step that he makes ‘cause he doesn’t just do things. People think he just does things, people come at him first, so Im’a support him in whatever he does, regardless.
AHHA: Your background is pretty mixed—Indian, Cuban, and Jamaican. Can you talk about how you were raised?
Olivia: Yeah, I was actually born in Brooklyn, in Flatbush, East 49th, and I actually went to Jamaica while I was still a newborn. I went to school in Jamaica until I was around eight years old, and that’s when I came here, and moved to Queens. So, I been here since I was eight. I always had a good childhood. My parents been together for over 30 years, so they raised me well. I think that’s why I got such good morals right now.
AHHA: So you connect more with your Jamaican side than the other nationalities [Indian and Cuban]?
Olivia: Yeah, more of the West Indies.
AHHA: Did you pick up the Jamaican accent?
Olivia: Yeah, but it usually only comes out when I’m upset or when I talk to my Jamaican friends. [laughs]
AHHA: Yeah, I know about that. Are you involved with the G-Unit clothing line in any way?
Olivia: I’m coming out with a G-Unit lingerie line, we’re actually gonna do that. I wear the G-Unit women’s line, like, all the time. Most people don’t know how really high end that stuff is. I usually have—I get the 2006 [collection]. I always get the line ahead of the stuff that comes out, so I get to see everything before. [People are] gonna be real surprised when they see, because, like I said, it’s not a regular line. We have the best designers put in place, and Fif always oversees everything. And they come to me and find out about the patterns or buttons and stuff that should go on, so everybody’s real hands on when it comes to that.
AHHA: You did a little bit of acting at the end of that “Candy Shop” video. Is that something that’s on the horizon for you in the future?
Olivia: I’m really just concerned with my music right now ‘cause this is always what I wanted to do. So whatever comes out afterwards, after whatever happens with the music, then I’ll think about that later, but right now I’m just worried about this.