Liberation (Mýa album)
|Studio album by Mýa|
|Released||October 22, 2007|
|Singles from Liberation|
Liberation is the fourth studio album by American recording artist Mýa Harrison. It was intended to be Harrison's debut release with her then new record label Universal Motown following her departure from Interscope in 2005. Before leaving, she had begun work on an album for Interscope called Control Freak set for a summer release 2005 with production by a host of other producers. Ultimately, she decided to leave A&M and Interscope Records and her management; subsequently Harrison made the transition within Universal Music Group to Universal Motown.
Within a three-month period Harrison had completed and submitted Liberation to her new label. Production on the album, which was classified as "energetic [and] ghetto" with a less classic R&B edge, was primarily handled by Scott Storch and J.R. Rotem with additional contributions from Bryan Michael Cox, Kwame, Carvin & Ivan, longtime contributor Tricky Stewart, and a handful of others. Guest appearances included Long Beach native Snoop Dogg, Murder Inc. rapper Charlie Baltimore and New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne.
Liberation spawned two singles, the Storch collaboration "Lock U Down" and R&B ballad "Ridin'". Both singles failed to make an impact at radio and on the charts. Due to the industry's budget cuts, the album suffered numerous delays and pushbacks. However while delaying the album's release again Universal Motown accidentally leaked the album in Japan, and Liberation was subsequently released as a digital download only in Japan on October 22, 2007. Liberation marked Harrison's only release on Universal Motown label following her departure in 2008.
In July 2003, Mýa released her third studio album Moodring. Her first full-length studio album since the release of her worldwide number-one hit "Lady Marmalade", a collaboration recorded for director Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! film soundtrack, it opened to positive reviews and first week sales of 113,000 copies, reaching number three on the US Billboard 200 album chart. While it marked the singer's highest debut and opening sales yet, Moodring sold less than its predecessor, 2000's Fear of Flying, which was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and sold 1.2 million units in the United States. Lead single "My Love Is Like...Wo" became a top twenty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and performed similarly on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, however second single "Fallen" performed modestly and therefore not given an international release; resulting in no further releases from the album. Though promotion for Moodring ended, nevertheless Harrison embarked on a nationwide tour, the Moodring Tour, a twenty-three day city tour that began October 11, 2003 and concluded on November 10, 2003.
Conception and production
Intermitted by several recording pauses, Mýa had been working on her fourth studio album since 2004. Originally conceived as a project called Control Freak, the main production of the album was initially financed by A&M Records, following Mýa's departure from the Interscope label after the mediocre commercial success of her previous effort Moodring in 2003, and expected to involve contributions by producers and songwriters Scott Storch, Dr. Dre, Jodeci, Lil Jon, Rockwilder and songwriter Sean Garrett. Mýa, who took control of the album in her own hands by producing part of the record herself, described the album as "a combination of a Gwen Stefani, because it's energetic, and Lil Jon, very ghetto," with a less classic R&B edge, explaining further: "Control Freak is basically learning how to gain control of a situation yourself, gaining control in order to be [a] free and beautiful person in life." However, although she intended to release a dance track called "Let It Go" at a particular time, she eventually decided to leave both her management and A&M Records in fall 2005 due to personal differences, before signing a new contract with Universal Motown.
During the following months Mýa began consulting a few other producers to collaborate on the album, renamed Liberation, including Tim & Bob, Bryan Michael Cox, Kwamé, J. R. Rotem and Tricky Stewart. In search of a new vibe for the album, she drew inspiration by leaving Los Angeles, California and moving back to Washington, D.C., where she spent her formative years. "I just knew that I had to get back to my roots and rediscover what had made me excited in the first place," she said in an interview with Billboard magazine. "I have all this creative energy and all these ideas but LA it was too impersonal of a place to develop a real creative family." Back home, Mýa bought a house and enlisted her brother to build a recording studio, where she began experimenting, laying down rudimentary tracks and learning how to engineer. Pushed by her newfound abilities in mixing and production, Mýa once again intensified work on the re-worked Control Freak album, with most of it eventually being completed in a stretch of only three month. "It was an easy process because I knew what I wanted to do when I went in," she commented, comparing the making of the album with a therapy. "I've been honest with myself and have been able to admit some things and analyze myself and save myself at the end of the day [...] Liberation is a clean slate; my most expressive, vulnerable album."
Music and compositions
Liberation opens with "I Am", a throbbing uptempo song produced by Kwamé. One of the first songs recorded for Liberation, Mýa recalled creating it "kind of therapy" and described it as "very grown and sexy, very spring time, just an all-around feel-good record." Early versions of the song featured guest vocals by St. Louis rapper Penelope Jones instead of Charlie Baltimore. "Walka Not a Talka" incorporates an organic Cali ambiance and harks back to the exoticism of Britney Spears's "I'm a Slave 4 U". It begins with the sound of a siren, while Mýa addresses listeners by saying, “I never should’ve left you.” Lyrically, the reflective song chronicles a self-conversation with Mýa reminding of all the things she had to get rid of in order to get what she want in life. West Coast rapper Snoop Dogg appears as a guest vocalist on the track. Aggressive "Still A Woman" tells the story an independent woman who needs a man's touch at the end of the day, declaring that she’s "always on the hustle doing what a man would do".
"No Touchin'" is a seductive mid-tempo ballad, produced by Konvict inhouse musician Noel "Detail" Fisher. It combines ancient tribal beats and oriental sounds. Similarly, Lock U Down" featuring Lil Wayne mixes a prominent Eastern harp sample with a guitar riff. A street-but-sweet hip-hop soul jam, it exposes what kind of man a woman wants and needs. "Lights Go Off" is a slow jam, produced by duo Carvin & Ivan, that features Mýa adopting a low, subtle vocal tone. Built around a piano, the song starts out with Mýa's man leaving her a voice message and ends with another girl answering Mýa's boyfriends phone. Ballad "Ridin'" is a break-up throwback to her earlier work in the late 1990s and was inspired by a former relationship in which Mýa suspected her ex-boyfriend of cheating. Frustrated and fed-up with the situation, it details her traffic route past the homes of people important to her man, including his mother, ex-girlfriends, and new lover.
The Carvin & Ivan-produced "Switch It Up" is the album's ninth track and was a favorite among music critics. "Give a Chick a Hand" is a crunk&B-inspired song and tells the story of a woman giving kudos to the next woman who stole her man. "All in the Name of Love", the album's eleventh track was produced by J. R. Rotem and incorporates the movie Halloween theme music. "Life's Too Short" is the album's second ballad and twelfth track, while "Nothin' at All", the album's final track, was produced by Tricky Stewart and written by Mýa herself. The song itself tells the story of Mýa's career in the music industry and the ups and downs that comes with the price of fame.
A release date for her Mýa's fourth studio album was first suggested in February 2005, when she expressed her intention of releasing it the same year on her longtime label A&M Records through its partnership with Interscope under the Universal umbrella. In June, she confirmed in an interview with MTV News that recording for the album was concluding and she was looking at a late summer release for her the album, tentatively titled Control Freak then, with a first single "Let It Go" to drop soon. However, in January 2006, Billboard magazine announced that the singer had left A&M Records in 2005 to transition to Universal Motown Records, then headed by Sylvia Rhone. While much of the earlier material recorded under A&M was left with the label, Mýa set up new recording sessions for her fourth album and renamed it Liberation.
In September 2006, promotional single "Ayo!" was released. Although two further singles from the albums followed throughout the following year, Liberation was repeatedly bumped from the US schedule, lastly in September 2007. Mýa appointed the delay to "litigations, court, transitioning from label to label, teaching kids [at the Mya Art & Tech Foundation] and building a studio" at first, also citing business related differences as a reason for its push backs. "It's just business you know [...] The music industry is suffering so record companies have to scrap for money. Plus I would rather wait for them to get it right before I do an album." In October 2007, Liberation was accidentally released to the Japanese music market due to label changing the release date again, leading to its overall leak on the Internet. As a result, Universal Motown decided to shelf a physical CD release elsewhere as the company feared that heavy bootlegging would affect sales.
Reviewed by a few American critics only, Liberation garnered a generally mixed reception. Dorian Lynskey of Blender magazine gave the album two and a half stars out of five, stating: "A decade into her career, two songs raise the 27-year-old's game — the insidious snake-charmer melody of "'Walka Not a Talka' and the bracing blast of betrayed-housewife rage of 'All in the Name of Love.' Elsewhere, boilerplate slow jams and generic sass paint Mya, her claims to the contrary, as a talka not a walka."
"Lock U Down" featuring Lil Wayne was the first single from the album. The song, produced by Scott Storch, peaked at number 101 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The single was a commercial failure due to poor radio airplay and lack of promotion. "Ridin", the second single off the album, peaked at number 58 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The single fared better than the first but received little radio support and general promotion as well. Motown also planned to release "Walka Not a Talka" as a single at some point. David LaChapelle was originally supposed to direct a music video for the song, with Patricia Field consulted for styling — but the then-head of marketing of the label thought it was “too weird.”
|1.||"Liberation (Intro)"||Mýa Harrison||0:18|
|2.||"I Am" (featuring Charli Baltimore)||Kwamé||3:49|
|3.||"Walka Not a Talka" (featuring Snoop Dogg)||J. R. Rotem||3:35|
|4.||"Still a Woman"||
|6.||"Lock U Down" (featuring Lil Wayne)||
|7.||"Lights Go Off"||Carvin & Ivan||6:23|
|9.||"Switch It Up"||
||Carvin & Ivan||4:43|
|10.||"Give a Chick a Hand"||
|11.||"All in the Name of Love"||
|12.||"Life's Too Short"||4:02|
|13.||"Nothin' at All"||
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