It is an hour before the MTV Video Music Awards kick off in Brooklyn tonight, and already, the internet is abuzz with all of the powers that only MTV and all of their entertainment muscle can muster. From surprise guests, to surprise performances, everyone is trying to predict the next 'we can't believe that happened tonight' magical moment. If social media is an accurate indicator of what fans both in and outside of the industry are yearning for tonight, then reunion is the keyword that has been trending for the past week. The most anticipated reunion, it seems, does not come from a 90s boy band, but a woman powered group of super heroes, that the world had been waiting for, but left way too soon. Though they haven't appeared together in six years, in seems like Danity Kane fans can barely contain their exciment at the alleged reunion that is going to happen tonight.
Part of the magic that makes the VMAs inimitable is the secrecy. It takes literally thousands of people for an event of this magnitude to go off without a hitch, and yet, the network seems to have less leaks than the CIA. That devotion to entertainment, the artists, and most importantly, and the viewers to provide a night of unmatched energy and entertainment is priceless, and no secrets about the show will be given away here.
What can be provided is a look at one of tonight's most anticipated figures, Dawn Richard, one fourth of Danity Kane, and an impeccable solo act in her own right. When the talented songstress was in DC for her show at the legendary Howard Theater, I was able to go backstage and talk to her. We discussed Danity Kane, the transition to being a solo act, how she an the Danity Kane crew fared as far as a possible reunion, and even entertainment powerhouses like Rihanna. And of course, it's hard to sit with Dawn and not ask her about Diddy. She worked with him while a part of two groups.
If you were a fan of MTV's Making the Band as Danity Kane was being formed, Dawn is just as likable as she appeared on TV, but what amazed me most, is that the best part of Dawn MTV omitted, her authenticity. Honest, hard working, sweet as sugar with a slight potty mouth, Dawn gives you truth with every answer. It was refreshing to see someone not place blame for their falls, and give credit for her success to others. The love she had for her former Danity Kane members and the acknowledgement of all of their growth as individuals, her appreciative nature, and her work ethic endears even a stranger. During the interview, Dawn's mom was nearby, beaming at her daughter, and the respect was mutual. Read our interview below.
Brittiany Cierra: You've been in a group twice. My question to you is, what was the difference between the two groups for you. As far as the actual working environment, was it easier to be in Danity Kane, or Dirty Money with Diddy?
DR: It's never easy to be with Puff, I think, in any case. But I think its also brilliant to be with him. It's one of those double edged swords. But Danity Kane was manufactured. It's one of those things where the music was manufactured, the idea was manufactured, so a lot of times, we couldn't really be who we were,we had to be the ideas of us that the show showed. So people had an idea already of what we were, and we tried to fit into that mold the best we could. The when we tried to be us, people were like, 'Oh, you've changed'. Diddy Dirty Money, was way more open creatively, for me.I was able to 'do me' a little bit more. Plus the money was bigger.
Brittiany Cierra: Its Puffy.
DR: Yeah it turned into him not being just the boss but now he was a group member, a part of it. So the money got larger. When the money got larger, the look got larger. So I was able to pick my styling. I was able to do the things I like to style, whereas in Danity Kane, they had an idea of what we would look like. We had very few space to move. The difference between the two is one was manufactured and one was organically done.
BC: Back to Danity Kane, there's been pictures on the internet, we see TMZ hunted you down . They say there is possibilities of a reunion. Does that reunion include you?
DR: Yeah. We went to lunch and we didn't know that when we left lunch we would be trending the whole day.By the end of it, there was a reunion, we were a group, we had made an album made and we were signed(laughter). I think we were surprised, in how it took. We hadn't seen each other, I hadn't seen Drea (fellow Danity Kane member) in six years. Is there a reunion now? Now? with everyone showing an interest, probably. (laughter) We didnt know the world still wanted to see us.
BC: But we love Danity Kane
DR: Yeah but you love a lot of artist who after a year you dont buy their albums.
DR: We have artist now, right now putting out single after single, but no one is buying their album. People havent said the name DK in six years, and we trended longer than someone who would, say, put an album out; for a day. That's crazy
BC: With the breakup of Danity Kane, were there any myths? You lnpw, you kind of got the brunt of it. bc Diddy kept you. you were the star.
DR: scoffs. Looks genuinely uncomfortable. Oh God
BC: You were his chosen one. Does that make you feel better? Because you are kind of humble.
DR: (laughter) No it doesn't make me feel better. People never knew the reality of it. That was the great thing about the lunch we had.People just didnt know. The girls didnt know, no one knew. People didnt know Puff bought me out of contract early on, a year before the show.
BC: Yeah you had a solo contract previously right?
DR: Yeah and puff bought me out the year before so I can be in Danity Kane. This was before. You can't say 'Oh Puff, you let Aubrey and D go, suck it! Bye'. Then I owe him money. This is a business, and I think people don't know that. They didn't know the grunt work that was going on. All they saw was, Puff keeping me,Puff keeping me, and it just looked bad. People thought that I was the cause of it, and because of it, I was 'winning'.
BC: I didn't take it like you were the cause of it, but I did feel like there was something in you that he felt like you were worth keeping.
DR: That could be true. That could be be true.
BC: Because even when Diddy Dirty Money broke up...
DR: That's something that I'm mentally thinking, I guess.
BC: Or that people are putting on you
DR: And I think you are right about that. I think there's just a hunger. People know from the beginning, that I love what I do. I love it. I come from something where you get one chance, you take it, you dont look back. I don't know. We all come from different lifestyles. Some of those girls had lifestyles of money, some were ok. Hey, you from New Orleans, you dont get on a TV show. That's number 1. You dont make it big. If you're a rapper, you may have an opportunity. But for a female, to be in a pop group from Louisiana. It just doesnt happen. So Puff knew that. I was hungry. I was hungry. No just was not an answer for me. I think that is what he saw. He didn't choose me because I was like, 'choose me'. I wouldnt leave him the hell alone. I was like, 'What else you need me to do? You want me to sweep, ok. Let's go.' And I think he saw a little of himself.
BC: I was going to say that. Because even the Diddy Dirty Money split was amicable, and we all know Diddy. He's a staunch business man, and you still might owe him after you buy it.
BC: And he let you go free and clear
DR: Well nothing's ever free an clear. I think some people are afraid to deal with me because I was once dealt with Puff. But I'm willing to deal with that.He gave me an opportunity. What people don't understand is I never expected Puff to be anything other than what he showed me he was. You cant be mad at someone for being exactly who they are. You can't be like 'Oh they hurt me. Or they dint give me this,I'm mad' when you know the track record. I just expected him to give me an opportunity. And I am grateful. He knew that. And because of that loyalty, that is why we are friends to this day. He did exactly what he said he would. He gave me a crack in a window. It was my choice to lift it up and jump.
BC:And it worked, because when you released Armor On, in 3 hours it was number one on itunes.
DR: Right. And it wasn't even a year after I left Bad Boy. People say you will never succeed. You never leave Puff. And you never leave puff, number one. And number two, you never leave him and be successful.
BC: And you proved them wrong.
DR: I proved myself right. I dont look at it that way. And that's the difference. People don't get it. I don't think people fully understand the person that I am. I'm not here for a number 1. I just love what I do. I've done a lot of things. Went to college for a lot of great things. This makes me happy. The choice to do it is because I'm happy. The money and all those beautiful things will come. To be on stage and hear people sing your record back to you. It's a high. I want to feel it all the time.
BC: Has it been hard for you making that transition to an independent artist? It's just you, you dont have that Diddy money. I'm sure its a much smaller team.
DR: Oh yeah, like two (laughter)
BC: You said somewhere before, it's not about the money for you, it's about that chance to do what you love to do. Now that you've been doing it, do you wish you had that money?
DR: (Laughter) yeah, who doesn't wish they had a little bit more money. So we can do a little bit more stuff. We as humans, we will never be satisfied. Hell yeah, give me some money. I know what to do with it and will make it great, but in the meantime, we are doing it. Hell yes, it's hard. It's hard as any person getting up, going to their job everyday and trying to climb the ladder and take their bosses spot. It's just like the Rihanna's and the Beyonce's in this world. They still have to wake up and work hard. And they have millions, and they have to get more of it. As your money grows, your lifestyle grows and you have to work hard to get more of it. Nothing's different. As an independent artist, I'm working just as hard as the Bitch with the millions. When I get the millions, I'm going to be working just as hard. Rihanna is on her 8th album. Bitch sit down. She dont want to sit down.The reason why is because she's hungry. I'm on my sixth project. The reason why, is because I'm hungry. Just like every other person. Just because they are eating doesn't mean they still aren't hungry. That person that's hungry is the one eating real good. Would I love some money? Yes bitch, we can put out a tithe. We can go off, but just like any person, Steve Jobs, all of them. They started somewhere. At the bottom, and they found their way way at the top. And I'm somewhere in the middle.