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— by Shaheem Reid

It's no surprise that the singer with an album called Touch likes to be hands-on with every aspect of her career. So when 25-year-old Amerie Rogers decided it was time to work on her sophomore LP, she took command, from calling up producers — including her friend Rich Harrison (Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and J. Lo's "Get Right") — to supervising her album's art and visuals and writing her own video treatments.

Amerie also knows how she wants things to sound: like hit records. Amerie's "1 Thing" is the early frontrunner for track of the year, and the success of the song has translated into a Billboard top-five debut for the Washington, D.C. native's LP. So what exactly is the one thing that has Amerie trippin'? You'll probably find out where Jimmy Hoffa is buried before she'll tell you. Rie can be loose-lipped though — especially when asked what turns her off and how she feels about being the aggressor in a relationship.

 Amerie Photos

MTV: It's been a minute. How does it feel to be coming back out?

Amerie: I'm definitely excited. I know I have to let people know I'm alive and I'm still here, because people haven't heard from me in a minute. I was able to step away and do a couple of other things, like [hosting] the show "The Center," and I did a movie ["First Daughter"]. I had a lot of experiences and a chance to grow outside of the music stuff. I think a lot of that is evident on the album — the content, the things I'm talking about, it all exists there.

MTV: Did you feel like you needed to hurry up and get back out there because the competition is getting thick?

Amerie: When I was doing the movie, I was itching to get back in the studio because it had been a minute. I didn't want to do it while I was doing the movie. There are a lot of artists out there — not just females, but people in general. You never want to stay away too long. You want to make sure you have your own lane and continue to create music. You want people to miss you, but not miss you too much. I miss them too. I missed being out on the road. I missed being in the studio, I missed making videos and doing all of that. I just didn't want to put too much on my plate at one time.

MTV: Did you know that "1 Thing" was going to be the joint of the year?

"1 Thing" (remix) (featuring Eve)
(Sony Urban Music/Columbia)
Amerie: I knew there was something special, definitely, with the go-go track. People outside of D.C. don't hear go-go. We did it the first time on "I Need You Tonight," which was a song on the last album [2002's All I Have]. We slowed it down a lot. This time we did it uptempo. And it was important to me. I was like, "We got to have that this time around. We got to do that in an uptempo way." When you hear that on the radio in D.C. and you go to the club it's fast — go-go is fast. It's a fresh sound for everybody, but people who are in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area, they know what it is. I'm very happy about it.

You know what's really cool? I did a show in D.C. ... I performed my set and then they had Rare Essence, a legendary go-go band. They actually cover "1 Thing" when they are performing. So they did one song and then they broke into "1 Thing." I came out again and did it with them. It was nine or 10 of us all together performing "1 Thing" completely live, no track at all. The energy was so crazy, the roof could have like blown off. Everybody was going crazy in the club. ... That was probably one of my favorite performances ever.

MTV: What's the one thing that's got you trippin'?

Amerie: About 100 people have asked me that so far, and nobody still knows. You would be 101 [laughs]. Sha's going to try to get it out of me. I like to leave it kind of vague. It could be anything. That's for me to know.

MTV: What's the one thing a dude could do that would make you kick him to the curb?

Amerie: Ladies know — there can be so many things. We want a guy to win, but we all have our things where he could just lose it. ... We're just talking about physical, because personality-wise there's some issues that could get him knocked out the box. But from the get-go there's the physical stuff: dirty teeth I don't like, and I don't like dirty ears or dirty fingernails. He doesn't have to get his nails polished — even though a nice manicure would be a good look. No dirty teeth, but they don't have to be perfectly straight. ... A little bit of rugged stuff doesn't hurt, but just let them be clean. Don't let me be sitting next to you and then I look, and think, "Ehh." The attraction is gone. That's not good.

  Working with a strong female, like Eve, was a perfect fit for "1 Thing"
  Amerie didn't realize people had the impression she's a "goody-goody"
MTV: How did you decide on Eve for the "1 Thing" remix?

Amerie: For one thing, when's the last time you seen a female rapping as a guest spot? Usually it's an R&B singer [and a] guy, every time. So I felt it was good to have a female on there. Plus she epitomizes that whole independent fearless female doing her thing. She's fashionable and very much a woman even though she definitely has a lot of attitude, the strength that most would attribute to men. ... With "1 Thing" being such an aggressive track, it was perfect to see two females really doing it.

MTV: Let's talk about the title track from your latest LP, Touch.

Amerie: The whole song came about because I didn't realize the perception people had of me from the last album, which was nice, cute, girly and goody-goody. I was like, "Wow, really?" I am a good girl, and I can be a goody-goody sometimes. But I think people saw me as a flat character, not a human being that is multifaceted like everybody else. That's not anyone's fault — that's actually on me because I only showed but so much on the last album as far as lyrical content. I didn't want to talk about a lot of things. This time, this song is addressing that, saying, "Hey, I do have other sides to myself. You just got to get to know me. Then you can see something."

MTV: Off the wax are you that aggressive?

Amerie: I'm trying to jumpstart it. I am very aggressive when it comes to a lot of things, but when it comes to [relationships] I tend to be the more passive one. I prefer to be the passive one. I like the whole idea of man being the aggressor, being powerful, taking control. That's another thing I don't like — when guys are not aggressive.

MTV: What's your most personal song?

Amerie: There's a few of them. One is "Talkin' About," that's really personal. Most of them are personal because I wrote them like that. The point of this album — I don't want to say the theme, so much, but one of the things I really wanted to do in constructing it — is that I really wanted it to be personal.

MTV: Are you going back to acting?

Amerie: I definitely want to do that. I've been reading scripts, but a lot of the things I was reading are filming now. I don't want to mix the two, just like I waited to record this album after I did the movie. ... There will be some overlapping, but I don't want to put myself in a bad position where I have to choose between going out on the road or doing this movie. I want to do everything I can with this project.

MTV: You are fully involved with this album.

Amerie: I'm a Capricorn. I can't sit back. It's very hard for me to do that. This project means a lot to me ... the process of actually getting the record done. I handled it different this time, as far as videos and everything. I feel like when you do a record, you have a vision in your mind and you want to carry it across — and it doesn't end with the studio. The vision continues through the videos. It continues even through the packaging of the single, the album packaging, the visuals. I know when I go to pick up my favorite artist's CD, I'm connecting everything to them. I would think they had a role in everything. For me it's very important to do that. I have a very specific way I want things to look.

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Photo: Columbia

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 "1 Thing" (remix) (featuring Eve)
(Sony Urban Music/Columbia)

 "1 Thing"
(Sony Urban Music/Columbia)