On Tuesday, Mya was in a Los Angeles studio with producer Damon Elliott working on a song called "People Change." It's not the catchiest or most representative cut she's ever done, but the title sums up the tone of her next album.
The still-untitled disc, due February 25, reveals the 22-year-old singer transforming from an innocent young woman into a liberal, self-assured adult, exposing her in a more intimate light. Unlike Fear of Flying (2000), which addressed somewhat superficial relationship issues, the new stuff is real and personal, largely because Mya's writing her own lyrics this time, said Elliott, who produced six songs on the disc.
"It's like when Pink stepped out with her second record," he explained. "She got to express herself a little more than she did on her first album. Mya's grown up, and the things she's talking about deal more with real issues. It's not like someone coming in with a song that's already written, where the lyrics and music are from another person's perspective. We co-wrote the stuff that we did. So it's more from her."
Like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, Mya is dealing with more provocative subject matter these days. For example, one of two songs produced by Christopher "Tricky" Stewart is about fiery relationships on the road.
"She's like, 'I'm in town for the night,' and she's got this guy that lives wherever she [happens to be that night], because Mya travels. So she's like, 'I'm in town tonight, let's get it on.' You don't expect to hear that from Mya."
Elliott said Mya's lyrical development isn't a shock tactic or an effort to keep up with her racy peers — it's more a sign of her own maturation and her interest in being honest and open.
"It's the natural progression," Elliott said. "We're all growing up. I mean, your first album usually is kind of kiddie because you're usually pretty young. But Mya's not this little girl anymore who's just piggybacking off of other people. She's grown up, and she wants to talk about what she goes through every day with guys."
The first single from the record will likely be "Get Up," Elliott said. "It's a real uptempo song I did and it's got a party club vibe. It's the kind of song you'll hear at a basketball game when it's time to pump the crowd up."
In addition to the six Elliott productions and the songs by Tricky, Mya's album will feature at least one song produced by Timbaland and one by Missy Elliott.
"The Missy song is very Missy," laughed Elliott. "She wrote it, so it's got a lot of her influence."
Other songs on the album include "Come," which Elliott describes as a "flirty, teasing" song, and "Take a Picture, which he originally wrote for Pink's last album. "What happened was there was such an overflow of songs, so a lot of songs didn't make the cut because she wanted the record to have a certain flow. It just so happened that this song flowed perfectly with Mya's record, so we cut it for Mya."
Unlike Fear of Flying, which included guest spots by Jadakiss, Beenie Man and the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, the new Mya album probably won't feature any collaborations.
"Mya can stand on her own," Elliott said. "Her album is gonna be off the chain. It's gonna be off the hook, man."