Shareefa and Bobby Valentino: Double Trouble

When Hip-Hop recording artist Ludacris was selling records out of his trunk back in ‘99, nobody imagined that his initiative would eventually help fulfill the dreams of other new and upcoming artists. While enduring the ups and downs of the music business, Ludacris and his comrade Chaka Zulu created Disturbing Tha Peace Records. With the birth of their own record label, not only were they able to release albums under their own imprint, but also connect with one of the biggest record labels in the industry - Def Jam Records.DTP is home to artists such as Shareefa, Bobby Valentino, Field Mob, I-20, Chingy, and Serius Jones. To date, the label has released several albums for Ludacris in addition to debut albums from other artists on its roster. With an up and coming DTP compilation album set to drop, we had the opportunity to speak with the two leading members of DTP’s R&B lineup: Shareefa and Bobby Valentino. They spoke about life with DTP, what’s new with their careers, and how they feel about the departure of Shawnna and the return of Chingy to DTP Records. AllHipHop.Com Alternatives: Tell me, what’s been going on with you lately?Shareefa: I’ve just been in the studio recording my second album. As of right now, it’s called The Black Deliah. It’s crazy. I’m in [the studio] with Chucky Thompson – once again – White Boy from New York and Kwame. Basically, it’s going to be hot. I aim to make classic albums. That’s my goal – to make a classic album, something you can listen to ten years from now. Of course, I still have some stories to tell. It’s more serious than the first album with things that I’ve seen. It’s to show my growth and my determination. The Deliah is a flower to represent the growth and the determination of Shareefa. AHHA: Do you have any duets?Shareefa: As of right now, I don’t. I have a couple of people in mind that I would love to do a duet with. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. AHHA: At least one with Bobby V. right?Shareefa: Yeah, a lot of people liked that last joint we did on my last albums, so I’m definitely going to do it again with Bobby. I must show my taste with love. With the DTP compilation, I have a few tracks on there that is crazy. AHHA: Tell me about those songs?Shareefa: One of the songs features Willy Northpole called, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” that’s crazy. I have another one with Chingy called, “That’s Just the Game.” Chingy, Serius Jones, and Small World are all on there. AHHA: How do you feel about Chingy coming back to the DTP?Shareefa: I didn’t have any feelings, because Chingy and I were always cool. Even when he left, we maintained a friendship. It is what it is, it’s almost like he never left.AHHA: Were you disappointed when all of that went down? Shareefa: Yeah, because of the loyalty, but other than that, that wasn’t my problem. He had a problem with whomever that he had the problem with – so that was on them. He had to handle his business. Of course, I was disappointed with how it went down. I felt like that was bad towards DTP. It kind of made DTP look bad, but it is what it is. He’s back and that’s it.AHHA: You wrote the majority of your first album; is that the case the second time around? Shareefa: Definitely.AHHA: Tell me what inspired you; were you just talking about your life?Shareefa: Life, my life, other people’s lives, any situation. I may write from a situation in which my sister or my best friend is going through. It hits close to home. I’m going to always tell stories, and you can tell stories in a billion ways. I’m going to always keep it interesting and personal. AHHA: Have you ever considered writing for other artists?Shareefa: It’s crazy because I’ve been asked to, but I’ve never got into it because I feel as though my style is so unique. I’m scared somebody won’t like it. I don’t know; I haven’t got into it. I’m so focused on me and my album, so I’m going to want to keep it for myself. I’m in artist mode. AHHA: Don’t be scared! You could end up writing for people like Keyshia Cole or Mary J. Blige, and in the end that’s more money in your pocket!Shareefa: I’m going to get to it; I’m going to get to it…AHHA: What is it like for you to be a part of a crew with so many men?Shareefa: It’s fine. It’s even better because I’m the only female R&B singer. I get more attention. I get spoiled. I get my way a little more. It’s all good. I love it.AHHA: Do you feel any pressure?Shareefa: I think it’s pressure with whatever you do not just because I’m a female artist. It’s pressure to be one amongst a hundred other singers out there. It’s all about how you do it and it doesn’t bother me. AHHA: Are they your big brothers, or is it some flirting going on sometimes?Shareefa: Definitely [they are like my big brothers]! Everybody over there is goofy.AHHA: No flirting going on? Everything clean?Shareefa: Everything is clean! AHHA: Do you think your first album fell under the radar? Personally I thought it was hot and didn’t get the attention it should have.Shareefa: It was definitely under the radar. The project could have been handled a bit differently. You live and you learn. This was my first album. It was done pretty fast. They put it out there within two months. Usually it takes six months to a year to run an artist. It went out there pretty quick, and people didn’t get to know Shareefa, but it’s okay because it won’t happen again. AHHA: What do you think were some of the reasons it fell under the radar?Shareefa: Number one: it was the fourth quarter. Jay-Z, Nas, Beyonce - need I say more? All those albums dropped. I’m a new artist out of DTP, female, and an R&B artist. I’m going to make sure that it doesn’t happen again and take it with a grain of salt. AHHA: So this time around you’re going to make sure that things go the way that you want them to?Shareefa: Right, exactly. In the industry, there’s a lot of the blame game going on instead of people taking responsibility. A lot of people have positions that they don’t need to have. A lot of people don’t know what they’re doing. But as I said, it’s a live and learn situation. I’m using this album to recover from it all, most definitely. AHHA: Aside from singing and working on your album, what else are you doing?Shareefa: That’s it right now, in the studio and the gym with a trainer going hard.AHHA: So when you look at other artists like a Beyoncè, or maybe even Ciara, do you find yourself debating rather or not you should switch up your style?Shareefa: Hell no! AHHA: What do you think of today’s average R&B chick?Shareefa: I don’t have any thoughts. Everybody is doing them, and I’m not a hater. Nobody will ever get me to say anything bad about Beyoncè or Ciara; I have their albums and I love them. I will never change my style to match what’s winning right now. Every year I get polished, I grow, and it is what it is. I’m Shareefa and that’s not me. AHHA: Will we ever see you dancing while performing?Shareefa: You know what’s crazy? I used to dance before I started singing. Back in New Jersey, I used to be in dance competitions, but I [eventually] grew out of it. AHHA: Well you’ve given me a good update as to what’s been going on with you. Where is Bobby V.?Bobby Valentino: I’m right here. I’ve just been listening to the lovely interview between you two ladies.AHHA: Bobby! What’s going on with you? What’s been up?Bobby V: On the road, I just got off the plane. I’m slightly tired, but I’m happy to be working. AHHA: I hear you are putting the final touches on your clothing line. Tell me what we can expect.Bobby V: I have the Bobby V Jeans for women. I’ve been working on that real strong. It will be available in boutiques the beginning of next year.AHHA: What made you do a woman’s clothing line instead of something unisex?Bobby V: You know - Bobby V caters to the women, so everything that I do is targeted to them. Dudes are cool, but I love the ladies.AHHA: Who’s helping you with that project?Bobby V: You know, I have my team – they’ve been helping me with working out the details. I can’t disclose anything, yet it’s a slow process. The clothing industry is totally different from the music industry. It has to be molded. You just can’t throw it out there like people throw an album out there. I’m just building the hype and trying to get some anticipation around it. We’re going to launch an ad campaign pretty soon. When it’s time, it’s going to be the right time.AHHA: How on hands-on are you? Are you helping pick the designs? Are you designing? Tell me what you do?Bobby V: I’m pretty much just overseeing everything. I’m a pretty stylish guy. I’m really into fashion. I have people putting samples together, but I definitely put my input in. I use my lady friend’s opinion and let them know what I like and don’t like.AHHA: How is the album doing?Bobby V: The album Special Occasion is out, it’s doing real well. The single “Anonymous” is doing really well. The second single called “Rear View” is about to drop with Ludacris. I’m just grinding every day, trying to take my career to the next level.AHHA: I read that you’re going to be in the movie Mama, I Want to Sing with Ciara and Patti LaBelle, is that correct?Bobby V: I don’t know nothing about that, but whoever is directing it, holler at me. A lot of people have been asking me that, but I don’t know who’s putting the rumor out there, but it’s not true. AHHA: I’m disappointed! The internet is so full of rumors…and I was really excited with the notion that you’d be acting alongside Ciara. Oh well! Have you begun working on a new album?Bobby V: Yeah, I’m always recording. I have tons of songs. In this game, it’s like if you’re asleep for a minute, you’re out of sight and out of mind. After Special Occasion came out, I tried to keep busy with the people to stay relevant. Timing is everything, so when it’s my time to shine, I’ll be ready to go. I can’t complain. I live by my motto: “Could be better, Could be worse.” I’m doing what I love to do and making it happen. That’s what it is.AHHA: Earlier in the year, it was in the media that you said that you felt Ne-Yo was the face of R&B on Def Jam. Do you feel that his album was pushed a little more than yours?Bobby V: I mean it’s the business, so I learned. I’ve been in this [business] a long time to know it’s not the music business but the business of music. Yeah, he’s the face for Def Jam R&B and Rihanna is the female face for [Def Jam] R&B, but Shareefa and I are the faces for DTP’s R&B which is a boutique record label. It’s a smaller label so it’s like, our people, Chaka Zulu, Jeff, Luda, they do as much as they can. Chaka is creditable, but he’s not as big as a L.A. Reid. When you have people that are really in your corner, of course, you’re going to get that bigger push. Consistency is everything. As long as Shareefa and I keep making records, nobody can stop us. When it’s your time, it’s your time and nobody can stop you. Like Shareefa said, you can’t hate on them. AHHA: How much did you contribute to the compilation album?Bobby V: I didn’t have the opportunity to put too much into it because it was being recorded while I was recording my album. I don’t really record in Atlanta. I record all over to get better vibes. I have a song with Chingy called, “Let’s Go.” Other than that, it wasn’t no beef or anything like that. AHHA: How did you feel about Shawnna leaving DTP?Shareefa: I feel like you have to do what you have to do. I don’t know her reasons, but I wish her the best. Bobby V: I wish her the most.AHHA: How did you feel when you found out Shawnna was leaving and you’d be the only female on DTP?Shareefa: I was like damn! That was a blow to the chest, and one less person that you came in the door with. I’m lonely. I’m the only girl now. It was good when she was there but hey, she had to make her move.AHHA: Do you want to see the DTP crew grow with time or are you just comfortable with what the roster consists of now?Shareefa: I ain’t answering that question ‘cause I don’t want to lie and say yes – we’re like a family and to me we’re big enough already. Bobby V: Like I said, DTP is a boutique. They focus on breaking artists with artist development. You have to focus on what you have and develop them.Shareefa: I second that motion.Bobby V: DTP is doing big things. Everybody is doing their own thing. Nobody is just flopping. Shareefa has hit records underneath her belt. I have hit records under my belt. Luda, Field Mob, Shawnna, everybody is doing their thing. I’m on the road now, but we’re still talking on the phone and things like that. I did a show with Luda the other day. So it’s like we’re doing our own thing progressively towards bettering themselves in their own career.