Teedra Moses on "Complex Simplicity" and its impact 15 years later (2023)

While 2004 brought us a host of classic hits, it was also a competitive year for female R&B. High-energy choreography and Ciara's breakout albumcandiesmade audiences compare her to a young Janet Jackson, and Alicia Keys swept nearly every R&B Grammy category for her sophomore effort.Alice Keys Diary. She steps back to reunite with her Destiny's Child sisters on the latest album.destiny fulfilled, many female artists, both experienced and new, began fighting to challenge Beyoncé's solo dominance.

He was in his own laneteedra moisés, who once aspired to be a presenter but gave singing a shot in her skillful and truthful debut.complex simplicity. Rather than risk artistic integrity for stardom, Moses was tough on his craft and perhaps even foresaw his sound would become the model just 15 years later.

"One of the things that has changed in R&B since 2004 is that people write smoothly like a rapper. I listened to hip hop because I'm a writer and I love puns. Now R&B has puns," Moses says. "SZA and Summer Walker, they have puns. Jhene Aiko...they can rap! R&B beats hip-hop to me in terms of lyrics and content."

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Teedra Moses preceded this R&B formula, which resurfaced more than a decade later, putting the singer ahead of her time. With a bold songwriting approach that made Moses unique as the genre adapts,complex simplicityis a testament to the R&B heyday of the early 2000s and beyond. Teedra Moses spoke to mark the album's 15th anniversary.CHEER UPon the importance of a then-unknown Ne-Yo in his musical beginnings, as Aaliyah's "Rock the Boat" set the tonecomplex simplicity, and how the album even inspired Ari Lennox's debut,shea butter baby.

VIBE: In the early 2000s, many female artists were shy in their music but bold.complex simplicityYou weren't afraid of being vulgar. Where did that intention come from, especially growing up listening to gospel music?

Well, I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana, where we're not a docile crowd. We are like on full trains. The food we cook, our spices are maxed out. When we drink, we drink to the fullest. Where I'm from, it's common to be honest about who we are and sometimes it comes off in a vulgar way. I wasn't "vulgar", I was honest, I didn't shy away from sex or how frustrated I was with a man or whatever. I was just being honest.

(Video) Teedra Moses - Complex Simplicity (Album)

When did your curiosity about secular music arouse? Was your interest originally in Prince?

yes i love prince My sister had a Prince album at school and it got in trouble and my mom had to go there. It was back when the 45 was still available, it was like a purple 45, so it must have been the Purple Rain album and I remember my mom trashing her album. I remember people saying that when you listen to a Prince record, you hear the devil and all these different things, but I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world, but before that, secular music got to me. My mom only played gospel music in the car, but my brother played hip-hop. My cousin played Teena Marie and Angela Winbush, so outside of my mom I could hear musical influences that you'd probably hear on Complex Simplicity. Like the influences of hip hop and early R&B [like] Teena Marie, Angela Winbush... when women sang with swing.

Were you able to see Prince live while he was here?

Oh thank god I did. (laughs) That was during the manufacturing process.complex simplicity. When everything was ready, a friend had a Christmas party and ended up putting up my display. We were almost done with the album and at that party Raphael Saddiq was there and he said 'Who is that?' so she introduced him to me. We became friends, it came out on the record and one day we were working on her project,beam of light, said: "Hey, come to my house tomorrow at 6 and don't be late, I'm going to see Prince." I had a fight. We visited it, I was impressed. After that, we went to the Foundation Room when House of Blues used to be in Sunset and L.A. and [Raphael] introduced me to Prince. I didn't really do anything but bite my straw in my drink. I got to see him and meet him and my best friend, Nonja McKenzie, started working for him as his hairstylist. He would be throwing parties at his party house in the Valley, so I had about three chances to meet him. I'm definitely so happy this happened before he died because I feel like my life wouldn't be complete if I couldn't see him live.

Speaking of Raphael, would you consider him your musical soul mate?

(Video) Complex Simplicity

I would describe him as a musical mentor. People don't know that the first song I wrote and recorded was incomplex simplicity, so I was literally a baby when I started my career. I wasn't an experienced performer, I wasn't an experienced writer… People think that because I wrote songs after I started my career, I was a writer before. It all happened at the same time. And I knew [Raphael Saddiq] and I knew him from Tony! Tony! Toné!, but I didn't really know his music that way. So when we started working together, he told me, "You're really stupid and part of the tribe of people who really have the ability to make real art." I think he put some kind of drum kit on my back more than anything. I wouldn't say he's my musical soul mate, I don't think I've found him yet, but I would say he's the most influential mentor I've found in music.

You had a great hand writing songs for other artists, especially around 2004. Has your process been hampered when writing for others compared to your own music?

I think writing for other people drove me crazy to be honest. I feel like I'm freeing myself and I never got into music to write for other people. It's great when you write what I do, but when you get an A&R that says, "No, we do..." a lot of people try to tell you how to make art, and I'm not kidding. . It really made me ramble for a brief minute. As soon as I stopped rushing to set records, I went back to getting high.

Repeat as composercomplex simplicityand do you want to rewrite or even expand on a specific song?

As a songwriter and artist, I don't really look back much. Today was a very emotional day for me because I actually played the record and it sounds so beautiful and happy and I didn't feel beautiful and happy at the time. I wasn't very proud when I heard it, but I wouldn't do anything differently. For me it was the best interpretation of my artistic ability at that time.

Check out this post on Instagram

15 years ago today this record came out and it changed my life. I remember all this shit that happened before I started making this album. My mother had just passed away and I broke up with the father of my children and had 2 five year olds that she was not mentally or financially prepared to care for... especially on my own. I distinctly remember falling into @nonjamckenzie's bed (she was always in my corner. Your absolute best friend) and literally screaming and crying for GOD to give me a way. I was so lost and confused. (GOD knew a normal job would have killed me) Shortly after #PoliPaul and I began our musical life journey. 15 years later, I am so thankful that this work that saved me and my children was so influential in helping others. There's a misconception that I stopped making music for years after this album, but I didn't. I was probably (either me or @raheemdevaughn) the first RnB artist to make mixtapes... first rocking out to hip hop tracks... and finally making full length mixtapes of original music. I have been rocking shows all over the US and Europe over the years. #IndieArtistMakeItHappen It's been quite the ride so far!! (No regrets) And we have so much more to give! (#thebullshitalbum in December) #BlackMosesMusic Happy birthday to a true lifesaver #complexsimplicity15yrs (we'll be releasing this album soon with some good stuff to go along with it 😁) Thank you to everyone involved in creating this album...you helped me and to save life of my children 🙏🏾

A post shared byteedra moisés(@teedramoses) y

(Video) Sister Circle | Teedra Moses Talks Indie Music, "Complex Simplicity" Album & More | TVONE

I read your Instagram post on the anniversary of the album's release. It was very transparent, you let out everything you felt at that moment. Does it still feel very new even though 15 years have passed?

It doesn't feel new, it feels timeless to me. I can't speak for others, but I'm arrogant enough to say that I make timeless music. It makes me remember and it's a blessing because it makes me remember everything I've been through. Nobody knows what I was going through then, so 15 years later, Complex Simplicity is like a trophy to me.

Were there songs that were originally intended for other artists?

I wasn't a writer for other people when I started making this album. I didn't want to write [for other people], that wasn't even a consideration. The only thing that made me write for other people was when they bought the album and said, "Hey, we have too many R&B singers, but we like this song." So, you have a song like (sings "Still in Love" by Nivea), that was my remake of "Be Your Girl." I wouldn't reveal certain songs, but we would do another similar one.

Were there songs that were originally intended for other artists?

I wasn't a writer for other people when I started making this album. I didn't want to write [for other people], that wasn't even a consideration. The only thing that made me write for other people was when they bought the album and said, "Hey, we have too many R&B singers, but we like this song." So, you have a song like (sings "Still in Love" by Nivea), that was my remake of "Be Your Girl." I wouldn't reveal certain songs, but we would do another similar one.

What was Ne-Yo's contribution to the album?

He did the vocal production and arrangements, with the exception of "Caution". She did Caution alone, I came and did the background and everything. It was magical because I've never done this shit before, but when we got to the next song I was blown away. Then Poli brought in Shaffer, who I know as Ne-Yo, and this album wouldn't be what it is if it wasn't for his vocal arrangement, it just wouldn't be. He and I had a conversation about it not long ago and he said to me, "I've only lived off of you and it's made me a better artist." We're both broke and we're collecting quarters between the seats of my car to buy Jack-in-the-Box egg rolls. He was brilliant then, as brilliant as he is now, but he had signed with another label and it was doing badly, but we were in the same production company. He moved on to where he is now, but I think the collaboration between me and him was part of the transition for him. He was super high the whole time. You listen to the first record of him and me... (sings "So Sick"). I hear this and it reminds me ofcomplex simplicityregarding his vocal arrangement and vocal production. If you listen to this song and thencomplex simplicity, you can hear Shaffer all over my album.

What were your feelings about R&B at the time of recording?complex simplicity? How did you intend to shake up the genre per se?

(Video) @TEEDRAMOSESOfficial - Be Your Girl (Official Music Video)

I didn't, I really didn't care. (laughs) she really wanted to be a girl who sings hip hop beats. What changed everything for me was Aaliyah's "Rock the Boat." I didn't really want to go in and change anything, I just wanted to make an album that sounds like "Rock the Boat" because that song reminds me of a time that I remember from when I was young, in New Orleans and stuff. sounds, they felt so good. "Rock the Boat" will rock forever, it's a timeless record. It will work for the rest of our lives. Until the end of the world, "Rock the Boat" will work, and I wanted to make an album that felt like that.

I just listened to the record and it hasn't aged a day.

The album was good, but this particular song was very good. It is bug free, it can work in any situation. I spoke to Ari Lennox's manager in New Orleans for Essence Fest and they said, 'We used to docomplex simplicityas a template for your album.” Well, I used "Rock the Boat," that song, as a template for the whole album.

What do you think of current R&B? It seems to have transcended contemporary R&B, especially when there are tons of subgenres.

R&B has morphed into many things, it's not just Sam Cooke anymore, it's diversified. I love H.E.R., I love Miguel, I love Lucky Daye. There is so much good. To be honest, I came out at a time when it was really bad for R&B. What was going on in music, period, was just weird. I used to tell people, "The good shit is coming back, I promise it will." . It's only different because you have to find it. I never thought R&B would die, but some people did. It is impossible, it is the source of so many sounds.

Kaytranada's "Be Your Girl" remix seemed to breathe new life into the song and introduced it to listeners who might not have heard of Teedra Moses back in 2004. What was it like hearing her cover? Was the remix a surprise?

It's definitely amazing to hear people say "That's wild, that's so good!" It took me a long time to listen to it, it was probably six or seven months before I listened to it. Do you know the crazy part of this? It triggered a million and one more. I'll probably get a remix or two of my "Be Your Girl" vocals in a week. But Kaytranada, he took it and turned it into something to dance to instead of just riding. It was more juvenile than what we had done.

how to re-introducecomplex simplicity15 years later?

(Video) Teedra Moses 'For A Lifetime' (Complex Simplicity) | Amaru Don TV

I imagine it, even more so having a lap of honor. I'm reintroducing him not as this broken girl singing these songs and acting so damn tough. Introducing it now, I can really be in the person of this album. I projected who I would be, now I really am her. I didn't even know how to promote the record back then because she was a scared little girl, now I'm a confident woman that people thought would listen.


1. Teedra Moses (Complex Simplicity - Live in NYC)
2. Backstroke - TEEDRA MOSES
3. Teedra Moses performs ' Complex Simplicity ' live at SOB's 2013
(Zach Simmons)
4. Last Day
(Teedra Moses - Topic)
5. Take Me
(Teedra Moses - Topic)
6. No More Tears
(Teedra Moses - Topic)
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