Kandi Burruss Speaks On New Album, Beef With Former Xscape Band Mate, And “Real Housewives Of Atlanta”
Kandi Burruss first appeared on our radar in the 1990s as a member of the platinum-selling R&B quartet, Xscape. In the years after the group’s disbandment, the multitalented 34-year-old maintained a relatively low profile while establishing a hugely successful career behind the scenes as a songwriter and producer. After spending the last year-and-a-half achieving reality TV superstardom with her current stint as a cast member on the Bravo Network’s hit reality series, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Burruss has returned to her roots as a recording artist with the release of her second solo album, Kandi Koated. Last week, with the flagship store of Carol’s Daughter on 125th Street in Harlem serving as the perfect backdrop, the gracious and glowing Atlanta native greeted and signed autographs for eager fans, and later sat down with me to dish on the new album, her beef with one of her former Xscape band mates, and being a housewife:
HHS: Tell us about the album.
KB: Well the album is called Kandi Koated. I had everybody work on this album from Ne-Yo to J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Bryan-Michael Cox, and my girl Tiny [Tameka "Tiny" Cottle] did a duet with me on the project, so I tried to pull out all the big dogs. The album is mostly ballads and mid-tempos, and it’s definitely a heartfelt album like a relationship record. A lot of relationship songs on there, a lot of love songs, but yeah, of course there are a couple of mad ones on there. But overall, I think it takes you to the beginning, through the middle, and to the end of a relationship.
Is Ne-Yo one of the features, or did he writer/produce some of the tracks on the album?
He produced and wrote, but he’s also singing all the backgrounds on a song. So you hear him on a song, but he’s not singing lead. I guess it’s kind of similar to when Drake did the song with Alicia Keys.
So what features are on the album?
It’s just Tiny, and then my daughter.
Which song is that?
It’s just the prelude to “Leroy Jones,” we did like an interlude. I had to let my daughter get on there and do her thing.
Before RHOA, you were perhaps best know as being a talented songwriter and a former member of the girl group Xscape. How does doing the solo thing differ from being in a group?
First of all, when you’re in a group, you get to split the responsibilities of being out there promoting an album and taking interviews and doing stuff together, and you split it amongst four people. Then on stage, like say for instance, right now, I’m going hoarse because we’ve been going nonstop. But in a group, I can lean on my group members. If I can’t hit that day, then somebody will sing my part, it’s not like a big deal. But it’s [being solo] a little harder, I think, but the good side is, our group was always majority rule, so maybe sometimes, I wouldn’t agree with something everyone wanted to do, but you have to do it because majority rules.
You mentioned Tiny, but are you in contact with the other girls from Xscape?
You said “no” like that is kind of a salty situation.
I mean, with one of them, it was kind of salty.
Was it because of money?
No, it’s not about any money; she did something real foul and said some real foul stuff about me, which wasn’t true, and it pissed me off so bad because I thought we were cool. One of them, we always bumped heads, it was no big deal, but the one that, she said something real foul about me, I was just like, “Whoa, I can’t even believe you did that.” Especially when, you know, when you feel like you’re cool with somebody, it just catches you off guard. It really hurt my feelings too; it really hurt my heart. Not only that, she came back and apologized later, but the things she said, she said on the radio, and put it out there for the world to hear it, but when she came and apologized, she was only talking to me. She admitted to me, “Well I don’t know why I said that.” But nobody’s hearing you apologize right now. Everybody just keeps talking about the things you said. So, it hurt my feelings, and I’m a real Taurus, and when I get in that stubborn mode, I feel, well, you know what, I’m good on you.
Which member of the group was it?
Oh, it was Tamika Scott.
Let’s get into the RHOA. What’s up with Phaedra and her quirky ways?
Nah, in person, Phaedra’s fun to be around. She’s hilarious and she’s kind of wild, you know; she’s funny, but on the show, she comes off a little snooty.
And not just snooty. I would venture to say she’s a little on the strange side.
I don’t know what happened because a lot of people don’t even realize she was on Tiny and Toya’s show last year, but she was never like that on their show. So I don’t know.
What is the relationship between you and your RHOA castmates like when the cameras are off? Do you ladies really hang out?
Kim [Zolciak] and I, we really were hanging out. Since I met her, we’ve taken three vacations to the Bahamas just hanging out as girls with our families, and we spent Christmas together last year. She’s actually…Kim is super fun, and she’s cool as hell. And Lisa, Lisa Wu [Hartwell], she’s not on the show anymore, but I have to say she is the most supportive. Like anytime she has an event or if I ever have an event, she always come and supports and hang out. So I always have to big her up because she’s one of those genuine “I’m going to be there for you” type people.
Do you still butt heads with Nene? Nene has a really strong personality.
She does, but this year, she was pretty cool with me. She didn’t say nothing to me that was offensive or anything, and I’m kind of like a “don’t start none won’t be none” type of person. So that’s not in my nature to come at somebody crazy; so if she’s cool, I’m cool.
What do you think is your future with the show? Do you think you’ll stick around for seasons to come?
I just said I was going to take it one season at a time. Personally, I feel like it’s good for business, even though they don’t pay that much honey. But for me, it’s not really about the money with the show, because that’s not my career; that’s just something I do for fun on the side. They have been helpful with my music, and even with me helping Lawrence, I think that it’ll be a good situation for him going forward. We’re trying to negotiate things for him to be signed to my company or whatever, and I think that’s a good look for people to see that process of me working with him, so I think it’s helpful for those reasons. And then I just feel like they’ve been good to me, as far as even outside the show. I’m working on another show that I’m executive producing with some friends of mine, and Andy [Cohen, Senior Vice President of Original Programming and Development at Bravo, the network that airs RHOA], he helped me take meetings with different people about the show. It’s getting together; it’s happening. So they’re showing me love, and I’m going to keep showing them love.
Do you feel your experience on the show is somewhat overshadowing your music career?As of late, many people know you best for being one of the cast members of RHOA.
Now that is true, but the funny thing is, I’m used to being…say for instance, when I was with the group, it was, “that girl from Xscape.” Now it’s, “Kandi from RHOA.” Or it’s, “that girl that write those songs.” You know what I mean? It’s like; you’re always going to be known for something, so it’s cool. I don’t really trip off of stuff like that, because me, I’m a person that, I enjoy being in front of the camera and behind the scenes. So if that helps other things like…with the music, I feel it’s helped, because if I would’ve waited all this time to do an album, it would’ve took a lot of money out of my pocket to promote myself. So I think it’s helped, even though, you’re right; they do be like, “Kandi from RHOA.” But hey, whatever.
Kandi Koated is currently available in music stores everywhere.