While former "American Idol" finalists often attempt to distance themselves from the show, Paris Bennett is embracing her status as season five's fifth-place finisher.
Her upcoming debut is called Princess P, the nickname Ryan Seacrest gave her on the show, and the album features appearances from fellow "Idol" contestants Lisa Tucker and Kevin Covais.
"What people don't know is that he can rap," Bennett said of the diminutive, bespectacled Covais in her squeaky speaking voice. "He loves Kanye West. He'd rap whole songs. He used to freestyle backstage. I was like, 'I have to do that on my album.' "
Their collaboration is in fact a hip-hop track, called, fittingly, "Let Me Rap." The Tucker duet is still in the works, but the two have become best friends since appearing on the show and talk daily.
Princess P also features Bennett's famous grandmother, Sounds of Blackness singer Ann Nesby, as well as Paris' mother and 70-year-old great-grandmother. "I'm a fourth-generation singer, so we did a song together called 'Best Friend,' " Bennett said. "While we were recording it was kind of normal, but once we sat down to listen to it, we were tripping out."
The album's first single is a rock and soul tune called "Ordinary Love," produced by Beyoncé collaborator Jon Jon Traxx. " 'Ordinary Love' basically talks about me, a teen girl saying, 'I like this dude so much — it's not just love, I think he's my soul mate,' " Bennett explained. Dustin Breeding of Bad Boy group B5 plays Paris' love interest in the video, which she shot last week in Minneapolis. ("Idol" season-five winner Taylor Hicks was scheduled to come by the set.)
Princess P also features production from Darren Lighty and Rodney Jerkins. "I've always liked the things he did for Brandy, so getting to sing on one of his tracks was a cool thing," Bennett said of the latter.
The album is due in March on the independent label 306 Entertainment. "Being on a big label, you're already in competition with the other people on your label," Bennett said. "You're not the main focus."
Bennett describes the sound of the album as "just me." "Everything you saw me do on 'American Idol,' from the rock to the jazz to the R&B, I've figured out a way to intertwine that into a 12-track album," she said. "I am a versatile child. I like to try different things."
Although details are still coming together, Bennett expects to hit the road for a promo tour around the album's release.
One fan sure to be there is "Idol" judge Randy Jackson. "I think she's got a bright future," Jackson said. "Paris was a very talented girl on the show. I think she just needed a little bit more seasoning, just a little bit more experience."