Last updated: 10/17/2007 11:00:00 AM
The world was first introduced to Kandi Burruss in 1992 when the budding star performed as a member of the platinum-selling quartet Xscape. It was Kandi who sang lead on the group's first hit, "Just Kickin" It," a song that would establish their reputation as four sassy, 'round the way girls with phenomenal voices. Now, after winning a Grammy for penning TLC's mega-smash "No Scrubs," becoming the first woman to receive the coveted ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Award for Songwriter of the Year, and completing Hey Kandi... an exceptional debut solo album, it's safe to say that Kandi, 24, has become a major player in the music game all by herself.
Ever since she was a young girl growing up in Atlanta, Kandi knew she had a knack for melodies and enjoyed writing lyrics. But it wasn't until TLC recorded "No Scrubs" that Kandi--and everyone else--realized that songwriting was more than just a hobby. So, following the release of Xscape's third and final album, Kandi embarked on a new career as songwriter extraordinaire, scoring with cuts like Destiny Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Bugaboo," *NSync's "Makes Me Ill" and Sole's "4,5,6," to name a few. Eventually everyone from Mariah Carey to Faith Evans came calling on Kandi for her uncanny ability to write hit records. "I think this is one of the best things that could have ever happened to me," says Kandi, who found herself at a crossroads after Xscape disbanded. "I really didn't know where my life was going. I was like, 'exactly what else can I do or would want to do besides sing?'"
Although Kandi was ecstatic over her newfound success, her desire to perform and sing wasn't being satisfied. It was time to write a few hot songs for herself for a change. That's when she and her partner, the celebrated producer She'kspere, started work on Hey Kandi..., an edgy, mostly up-tempo album. At first, Kandi was nervous about her solo outing and developed a touch of writer's block. "Whenever I was writing for someone else, everything just came to me," she admits. "But when it came to my own project, I was like, 'oh, what am I gonna write!'"
Still, the final result is typical Kandi magic. She pays homage to her southern roots on the bass-tinged first single, "Don't Think I'm Not." The song, one of Kandi's favorites, is a rear-shaking nod to women who counter their men's cheating ways by creeping as well.
She sounds better than ever on the album's most personal track, "Easier," featuring Faith Evans, a soaring ballad dedicated to Kandi's older brother, Patrick, who died when Kandi was still in high school. "It's about pulling yourself together," she says of the song that's filled with both pain and inspiration. "Life will get easier, but it never gets easy." She throws one to the streets with "Hey Kandi," a spirited, hip-hop-flavored, ghetto love story that bangs. "I tried to write the lyrics like what a rapper would say," Kandi says of the song. "I just added a nice little melody." The only track she didn't write on the album, "Cheatin' On Me," is an intense, attitude-filled ballad about a woman scorned. "My momma told me there'd be days like this," she sings.
Kandi is one of those rare entertainers who can seemingly do it all--sing, dance, write, act (one of her goals is to perform on Broadway)--and do them well. After Hey Kandi..., fans will see that this is an artist in the truest sense of the word, a woman who knows exactly what she wants to create and where she's headed. "Now I'm in control of my own life," she says. "If I'm slacking then it's on me, but if I'm on top of my job, I'm gonna benefit. And I know I can do anything."