Tiara Thomas doesn't want to be put in a box. The 25-year-old Indiana native raps, sings and plays the guitar. When we first heard her on Wale's 2013 single "Bad", she was stretching the limitations of how female R&B singers are typically allowed to express their sexuality. Specifically, Tiara separated sex from love -- kind of like the guys do.
On her new song "Fly as Hell," from her Up In Smoke project, Thomas is once again hitting fans with the unexpected. Over a sampling of Aretha Franklin's 1965 song "One Step Ahead," Tiara raps: "I'm fly as hell, she's bi as hell, he's insecure."
She's mostly bragging about her own attractiveness on the rhyme, but Tiara also breaks down some gender boundaries in hip-hop.
"Basically what I'm saying in that song is, 'Yo, I'm fly as hell and ... anybody can notice that. Your girl notices that and you're insecure about it," she explained to MTV News on Monday.
Tiara added that the lyric is just "slick talk," revealing that she was high when she wrote it. She went on to admit that she's never stolen a woman from a man -- or stolen a lover from anyone for that matter. But the lyric does also raise questions about her own sexuality: Is Tiara bisexual?
"Honestly, just like my music, I like for people to guess about me. There's a certain thing about me that is mysterious to people and I like to be a mystery," she said, not committing to the label. "I like for people to assume or think really whatever they want, as long as it's not anything like a rapist or anything. I want people to use their imagination when it comes to me. I love people you know? I let people guess. I let people think whatever they want."
The budding star cites TLC's entire catalogue and the 504 Boyz 2000 single "I Can Tell" as her inspiration for expressing herself freely.
In 2012, Frank Ocean shocked the world when he dropped an open letter on Tumblr discussing his sexuality. On the critically acclaimed album that followed, Ocean even sang about romantic relationships with men.
And just last week, Fox's new hit show "Empire" tackled the topic of coming out in the music industry when the character Jamal revealed he was gay while singing a song in concert. It's clear that sexuality and hip-hop continues to be a hot-button topic.
Tiara's sexual identity likely won't come under the same microscope as Frank Ocean, primarily because the Channel Orange singer has a bigger artistic profile. But it's also because Tiara's a woman and there's a double-standard when it comes to men and women rapping or singing about anything sexual.
Thomas pointed to Lil Wayne's lyric on Drake's "Used To," where he raps, "Suck a n---a's d--k for an iPhone 6."
"These guys say anything in songs, they'll say anything," she argued. "That's Wayne -- he's a genius, he's sick with it -- but I feel like if a girl was to say that same line, it's like, totally nah."
In fact, Tiara said she had to learn that lesson after her breakout performance on Wale's "Bad," where she sang "I never made love ... but I sure know how to f--k."
"That's the first time anyone's called me a ho. Not everybody, but a lot of people did," she revealed.
Tiara isn't with the labels, however. Bi, straight, ho or wholesome -- she's avoiding all of that for the moment. In fact, when talking about herself, Thomas came up with the prefect description. "I'm free girl," she said simply.