G-funk, drag queens, reggae and a little bit of pop-rock — Mya has the blueprint for making an album, all she had to do was take her time.
"Wrapping it up now," Mya said last week in Los Angeles. "I haven't been really consistent [with recording]. I've been in and out of the studio, so shoot, I'm using some records I did maybe two years ago. I been in the studio every chance I get for the fun of it, and I realized, 'Hey, I need to start recording an album.' After that I pretty much realized I had 20 songs in my pocket.
"It wasn't a forced issue," she added. "We didn't set a time and say we need to shut down everything — no more this, no more that — we're gonna focus on the album. I asked people for tracks, I'd vibe on them, write to them. When they came out as great records and the record company liked them, we polished them. That's what happened. Everything was up in the air, all over the place."
While spending close to two years recording at her own pace, Mya had plenty of time between studio sessions to win a Grammy Award and commit homicide.
"I'm a part of the cell block girls," Mya said, referring to her big-screen debut in the musical "Chicago." "My character's name is Mona. She's a murderess — she killed her husband. She found out some things about her husband that kind of ticked her off."
In real life the 22-year-old is a little peeved that some people still see her as a kid, but she said she's going to show her maturity on her forthcoming LP.
"I've grown up and gone through some things, so I'm expressing what I feel," explained Mya, who walked away with a Grammy for her part on "Lady Marmalade." "I'm a little bit more open than usual, and I've lived a life. I've had a career where I can live a comfortable life. I'm not Britney Spears, so I still have a life. I can go certain places without getting hounded by little 5-year-olds. So I'm very sane as a person. I've gone through relationships, gone through the normal things that a normal person would go through."
Mya said that despite the edginess of her project, people shouldn't be too shocked by her free-spirited wordplay and music. "It's well balanced," she proclaimed. "I'm not saying, 'F--- you, kiss my ass.' I'm not cursing all over my album, but it's real. I know lots of females that can appreciate where I'm coming from, and men too."
Even men who dress up like women. "I have song called 'Whatever Bitch.' It's strictly for the drag queens. I just like to sit and watch [them]. My dancers introduced me to that world a long time ago. I incorporated some of it in my show, the dancing and the voguing. It's art."
Missy Elliott may appear on the track, and that isn't the only "Moulin Rouge" reunion Mya has planned for her still-untitled third album. "Lady Marmalade" producer Rockwilder supplied tracks, and Pink lent her pen to the project.
"[Pink] wrote a song called 'Take a Picture.' [It's about] just what it says. 'Take a picture so I can remember this moment forever.' It's almost like a graduation or wedding song. You can sing it anywhere. It's a really nice song."
Mya also experimented in the studio, recording a ladies' anthem titled "Unless My Period's Late," a Caribbean-flavored duet with Sean Paul called "Things Come and Go" and covering the 1983 Rick James song "Cold Blooded."
"I got another song called 'Look So Good,' " Mya said. "That's one of my favorites. It's about a guy that you're with simply because damn, he looks so freakin' good. It's a horrible relationship, it's not healthy for you, and you're asking him, 'Why you gotta look so good? You make it so hard to leave. I don't want anyone else to have you, and you're never gonna treat me right.' So I'm pretty sure a man could relate to that."
Mya's scheduled to work with Dr. Dre this month on one of the LP's final cuts. The singer, who's in talks to appear on the next Santana album, said her first single will be out in September, followed by the album in November or December.