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Natina Reed

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Natina Reed
An image of Natina Reed wearing red wings and a corset with flames. She is posing on a red carpet.
Reed at the premiere of Bring It On in 2000
Born Natina Tiawana Reed
(1979-10-28)October 28, 1979
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died October 26, 2012(2012-10-26) (aged 32)
Duluth, Georgia, U.S.
Musical career
Genres
Occupation(s)
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1999–2012
Labels
Associated acts
Website therealnatina.com (archive)

Natina Tiawana Reed (October 28, 1979 – October 26, 2012) was an American singer-songwriter, rapper, and actress. She was born in New York City and raised in Atlanta, where she pursued a career in music at a young age. Discovered by rapper Lisa Lopes, she worked as a writer for the girl group TLC; critics considered her to be Lopes' protégé. Reed rose to fame in the late 1990s as a member of the girl group Blaque. They released two albums: their 1999 eponymous debut album that peaked at number 53 on the Billboard 200, and Blaque Out (2001). She starred as a cheerleader in the 2000 teen comedy film Bring It On. She appeared as herself in the comedy-drama television series V.I.P. and the 2003 dance film Honey.

Blaque disbanded after an unsuccessful transition to Elektra and a failed attempt at a reunion. Reed took a hiatus from music to further pursue acting. In the early 2000s, she was engaged to rapper Kurupt and gave birth to their son. On October 26, 2012, Reed died after being struck by a car on the Lawrenceville Highway near Hamilton Road north of Lilburn, Georgia. Officials determined the driver was not at fault, though the exact circumstances of her death remain unclear. Around the time of her death, she was working on various projects including a solo album, a book, and collaborating with Blaque group members on new music and a reality television show.

Life and career[edit]

1979-1996: Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Natina Tiawana Reed was born on October 28, 1979, in Queens, New York City.[1][2][3] She was raised in Atlanta by her mother Tamara Goodridge, father, and stepfather Mark Goodridge of Covington, Georgia.[3][4][5] Her family also included two sisters, a brother, and seven step-siblings.[3] She is singer Farrah Franklin's cousin.[6] During one interview, she said she wanted to be either Miss America, a veterinarian or a movie star.[4] By the age of eight, she had modeled for Macy's and Bloomingdale's advertising campaigns and acted in a hot dog commercial.[3]

Reed would often beatbox and create beats by hitting walls to create melodies for her own music.[7] She also played drums at her father's church and performed in its drama ministry.[3] She sang in the church choir and wrote poems and jingles, one of which Sprite purchased.[4] Between the ages of 13 and 14, she submitted a song for a competition and won. This experience led Reed to become more open about showing her material to other people.[7] She attended Cedar Grove High School and originally planned to go to college to become an entertainment attorney.[3]

Rapper Lisa Lopes discovered Reed after listening to her music,[7][8] and asked her to write for Lopes' girl group TLC.[7] Describing her working relationship with Lopes, Reed said: "She built my confidence and really inspired me through just believing me and sometimes that’s all you need to give a person." She identified herself as "the official writer of the group," and music executive Tommy Mottola encouraged her to work with them more.[7] Her older brother Ronald acted as her manager.[4]

1997-1999: Blaque[edit]

An image of a woman with long brown hair and a leather jacket. She is looking toward the camera while performing on stage.
Reed was inspired to write music after watching singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette (pictured in 2014) perform on MTV.[4][9]

Reed performed in the girl group Blaque, an acronym for Believe, Life, Achieving, Quest, Unity and Everything, with singers Shamari Fears and Brandi Williams.[8] Reed and Fears were school friends,[4][10] and worked together on other music projects including an urban country group.[11] They had met Williams during an audition for Lopes' production company Left Eye Productions.[4][10] Reed was 19 when Left Eye Productions signed the trio.[10][11] Lopes mentored and managed the trio[8] and media outlets identified Reed as Lopes' protégé.[12][13] Reed explained Blaque's sound and style: "The vibe we want to get across that we're universal. We're not just urban and R&B."[10] She also said: "We go where other groups are afraid to go. We're straight out of the year 2080."[14] According to Billboard Blaque's music contains elements of R&B, pop music, and rap music. Jean-Claude Olivier of Trackmasters said that Blaque was more pop in comparison to TLC.[10] Blaque first appeared as a group during a cameo appearance in the music videos for the remix of Lil' Kim's 1997 single "Not Tonight" and Jermaine Dupri's 1998 song "Someday at Christmas".[15][16] In 1999, they performed as the opening act for NSYNC's NSYNC in Concert and TLC's FanMail Tour.[17][18]

The group recorded their eponymous debut album with producer Dallas Austin in a Miami studio. They also worked on the record at Lenny Kravitz's home for two weeks. The trio collaborated with rappers Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah during the recording sessions.[7] Reed has writing credits on seven of the album's 14 tracks; "I Do" was written entirely by Reed.[19] She wrote a majority of the songs for Blaque.[4] Her tracks were published through Dotted Line (Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)).[10] A writer for the Los Angeles Sentinel described Reed as "the sassy MC who gave hits like '808' their punch".[20] In her 2008 book Pop Princesses, author Beth Peters wrote that Reed's reputation was "notoriously naughty" and "wild, fiery, and feisty".[4]

Blaque was released June 1, 1999, under Trackmasters' imprint label.[8][21][a] Blaque peaked at number 53 on the Billboard 200;[23] on April 10, 2000, the album was certified platinum and has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.[24][25] It was promoted through three singles: "808", "Bring It All to Me", and "I Do".[10][26] The first two tracks charted at number eight and five on the Billboard Hot 100.[27] On June 2, 1999, "808" was certified gold for selling over 500,000 copies worldwide.[25] When Reed was 14, she wrote "I Do" after seeing singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette on MTV.[4][9] She said: "I wanted to write a song that could make an artist like her have the acceptance to be played on [R&B] stations."[9] A writer for BET noted the group's music videos had a "futuristic feel".[28]

2000-2002: Bring It On and continuing music career[edit]

A close-up image of Gabrielle Union smiling towards the camera.
Gabrielle Union (pictured in 2009) appears opposite Reed in Bring It On (2000). Union said that people would frequently mistake Reed's lines with her character's.

Reed plays cheerleader Jenelope in the 2000 teen comedy film Bring It On.[29][30] She described the character as "the one with the attitude" and "ghetto and cute at the same time".[4] Bring It On was Reed's first acting role.[30] She appeared alongside Williams and Fears, who played LaFred and Shamari, friends to lead character Isis (played by Gabrielle Union).[4][30][31] Reed, Williams and Fears would often look into the camera when delivering their lines, because of their lack of acting experience.[30] Blaque contributed two songs to the film's soundtrack: "As If" and a remix of "Bring It All to Me" featuring verses from rapper 50 Cent.[30][32] On the 15th anniversary of its release, Union said that people erroneously associate Reed's lines ("Let’s beat these Buffys down" and "You been touched by an angel, girl") with her character.[29] Reed was unable to build a film career based on her role in Bring It On.[33]

Reed appeared as herself in a 2001 episode of the comedy-drama television series V.I.P.[34] The same year, she was featured on the hook for her then-fiancée Kurupt's single "It's Over" from his third studio album Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey,[35][36] and appeared in its music video flirting with him.[37] Jazmin Perez of Vibe included it as one of the "tracks to watch",[35] though a writer of HipHopDX and Craig Jenkins of Complex criticized Reed's portion as childish and incongruent with the rest of the single.[36][38] "It's Over" peaked at number 88 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Billboard chart.[39] Blaque was featured on the song "Head to the Sky" on Lopes' debut solo album Supernova also released in 2001.[40]

On January 29, 2002, Blaque's second studio album Blaque Out was released only in Japan.[8][41] It was made available temporarily for digital download in 2007 in the United States and was reissued in 2011.[8] Discussing its release, Reed said that the death of a group member's mother and "technical difficulties" led to the delays.[37] "Can't Get It Back" (2001) was the lead single from the album,[42] and promoted with a music video.[43] The song charted at number 91 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[44] Reed felt that Blaque Out was the group's best album.[7] She is credited as a songwriter on it.[45] In a review of Blaque Out, Demetria Lucas of Vibe criticized Reed's verses and vocals as too similar to Lopes and wrote it "makes for monotony".[46] Blaque made a cameo appearance in the music video for Jermaine Dupri's single "Welcome to Atlanta" (2002).[47] In the same year, Reed's song "Rock Climber" was featured on the compilation album Dragonfly Presents a Better Life Through Chemistry.[48][49]

2003-2012: Career setbacks and hiatus[edit]

An image of a woman with short black hair with blue highlights.
Missy Elliott (pictured in 2015) produced five songs for Blaque's unreleased album Torch, including its lead single "Ugly".

Blaque recorded a third album Torch with Elektra, which was never released.[7][8][b] The group worked closely with Missy Elliot on five of the album's tracks.[7][53] Scheduled for release in August 2003, it was promoted with the single "Ugly" featuring verses by Elliot.[50][53] Reed was unhappy with Torch's musical direction and her lack of creative control. According to Reed, Blaque retains the rights for the album, and they collectively refused to release it. She explained: "If it’s not necessary to give them a record that we don’t even too much care for, why give it to them?"[7] Despite it not being released, Ernest Hardy of Vibe somehow obtained a copy of Torch and in a review wrote that Reed's raps are "filled with hiccup effects, yeah-yeahs, and nasal phrasing", "lifted" from Lopes, describing the album as "passable, if highly derivative".[50]

In 2004, Blaque contributed the single "I'm Good" to the soundtrack album for the 2003 dance film Honey,[54] and make a cameo appearance as themselves.[55] "I'm Good" was Blaque's highest charting single in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart.[54] The song also reached number 95 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[44] Blaque separated in 2004,[56] and Fears and Williams pursued careers as solo artists.[24] Before the group broke up, singer Erica Pullins was temporarily hired as a replacement for Reed.[57][58] A compilation album Blaque by Popular Demand was released on February 27, 2007.[59]

Reed said that she took a hiatus from her music career "to focus on other aspirations that she ha[d] including acting".[7] According to other reports, she left Blaque to join a Christian ministry.[58][60] In 2008, she appeared as herself in the television film Til 6 in the Morning by Platinum Souls.[61] The online magazine Bossip reported that Reed was arrested on April 13, 2010, in Gwinnett County on charges of prostitution, disorderly conduct, and cocaine possession; this news was picked up by other outlets.[62][63] Reed's management denied the arrest report, saying that the alleged mugshots were photoshopped by someone who had previously hacked into and deleted Reed's Twitter account.[64][65][c] On June 29, 2011, she was arrested on charges of driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, and driving without a license,[33][66] and was jailed for two days.[66] Reed's license had been revoked after a previous DUI arrest.[66] During their hiatus, Blaque attempted a reunion, and worked on a project known as Private Show.[7][56] The album was abandoned because the members had different priorities. In a 2012 interview, Reed said she waited to start recording a solo album to avoid comparisons with other artists, specifically rapper Nicki Minaj.[7]

Personal life[edit]

An image of a man wearing blue shirt and flashing a hand sign to the camera.
Reed was engaged to Kurupt (pictured in 2011) in the early 2000s— they have one child together.

During "the early 2000s", Reed became engaged to Kurupt though the couple never married.[31][67] They had planned to be married in the spring of 2001,[68] and rescheduled it to 2002 or 2003 due to conflicts with their work schedules.[37] Rapper Foxy Brown, Kurupt's former fiancée, dissed Reed on the track "730" from her 2001 album Broken Silence in the lyrics: "Some hos is always yappin' — especially pop-star bitches with the soft image" and "So what I'm not with him / Bitch he's off limits."[37][69] Reed responded that Brown "needs to move on and get over him" and advised that they focus on their respective careers.[69] Reed told MTV News:

You can't chase something that doesn't chase you back [...] I don't spend a lot of time thinking about what people think about me. It's petty — it's like people never grow up in this game. You watch Biggie and all that shit that [he] and Pac went through, and people still don't get the message. They still want to start the wars and create fires.[37]

Reed became pregnant with Kurput's child during the recording of Blaque Out; she said that the album's limited release was the result of her pregnancy and the label's uncertainty over the group's future.[7] In 2002, she gave birth to their son, Tren Brown.[31] Following Reed's pregnancy, the couple separated.[70] Reed's father said that being a mother was "one of her most treasured roles".[3] Following Lopes' death in an automobile accident in La Ceiba, Honduras, in 2002,[12] Reed was interviewed for a BET Tonight episode about her life.[71] Reed said she lived with Lopes three months before her son's birth and was taken care of her during her pregnancy.[71] Tren, who had lived with Kurupt for four years before Reed's death, remained with his father.[72] Reed's father said he planned to raise money to help Tren.[73]

Death[edit]

On October 26, 2012, a red Honda Accord struck Reed on the Lawrenceville Highway near Hamilton Road north of Lilburn, Georgia.[13][31][74] At the time of the accident, she was wearing dark clothing walking in a dark area.[72] The driver called 9-1-1 at 10:30 p.m. (EDT).[13] The driver and the passenger attempted CPR, but Reed was pronounced dead at the Gwinnett Medical Center at 10:59 p.m. (EDT).[75][76] The Gwinnett County police said that the driver "was determined to be not at fault and there are no charges pending",[13][77] and started an investigation into the accident to determine why Reed was in the road.[74][75] According to the police spokesman, the driver and a passenger were the only witnesses to the accident. He attributed the lack of witnesses to the low level of activity in the area.[12] The police were uncertain if Reed was crossing the road or walking alongside it. As part of the investigation, they asked people to provide further information if possible.[75] Reed's father said that she was on her cell phone at the time of the accident, and believed that it played a role in her death.[73]

Reed's death was first reported by TMZ the following day,[13][74] and media outlets incorrectly reported that Reed had died in a hit and run.[75][77] The accident was later confirmed by tweets from her friends and family,[74][77] and Reed and Blaque became trending topics on Twitter.[77] Following Reed's death, Williams and Fears issued the following joint statement:

We are devastated by the loss of our group member, sister and friend Natina Reed. Because of the enormous support of Blaque fans and our love for each another, Blaque officially reunited this fall and we were in the process of working on a new album and a reality show. Natina continuously embodied the pioneering spirit of Blaque and her undeniable creativity touched the hearts of fans everywhere. Natina was a mother, sister, accomplished songwriter, artist and friend. We ask for your prayers at this time for Natina's family. She will forever be missed and her global influence eternally felt. We thank God for the experiences we shared.[13]

Other messages included condolences from Gabrielle Union, producers Isaac Hayes III and Russell Simmons, and radio personality Egypt Sherrod.[75][77] Williams and Fears also posted individually in addition to their joint message.[75] Musician Questlove noted the similarities between Reed's and Lopes' deaths.[12][77] Kurupt issued a statement through MTV News about the fan response: "This is a tremendous loss to our family. Natina was a great person and I wish everyone had the opportunity to meet her and know her as I did."[12] An obituary, written by Reed's family, was published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on October 30.[1] At the time of her death, Reed was living in the StudioPlus Atlanta Peachtree Corners extended stay hotel in Norcross, Georgia.[72][78][d] She was working on a solo album while "revamping her career".[7][79] She was also writing a book and scripts and had hired an acting agent.[7] Reed had united previously with the Blaque group members for a performance at the Left Eye festival.[7] Further information about the Blaque reunion album and reality television show was not released.[31]

On November 3, a public funeral service, organized by the Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home, was held at the Abundant Life Church in Lithonia, Georgia.[1][78][80] Media outlets reported that Kurupt paid for the service,[80] but Reed's mother clarified it was not true.[81] Kurupt said that he wanted to stay close to Reed's family.[80] Along with Williams, Fears, and Reed's family and friends, singer-songwriter Tionne Watkins and rappers Big Boi, Daz Dillinger, and Snoop Dogg attended the funeral.[72][80] Reed was buried at the North Atlanta Memorial Park and Chapel Mausoleum in Doraville, Georgia.[82] Before the service, Reed's parents held a press conference in Atlanta to criticize the police investigation. According to their attorney, the police had ignored their requests for information about "the time of incident, exact location, information about the driver and even Reed’s personal belongings". Police released a report an hour after the conference was scheduled, responded that "they did not hold back any information".[79] A year after Reed's death, her sister Niesha Stevens died of unknown causes.[83]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Reed was nominated for several accolades for her work with Blaque. For "808", the trio was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Or Rap New Artist at the 1999 Soul Train Lady of Soul Award;[84] at the 2000 ceremony, they were also nominated for R&B/Soul Album Of The Year, Group, Band Or Duo.[85] "I Do" was nominated for Best Editing In A Video at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards,[86] and the group won Best New Artist-R&B at the 2000 Billboard Video Awards for "Bring It All To Me".[87] The group was nominated for Best Female Group at the 2001 BET Awards.[88]

Discography[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]

Year Title Album
2001 "It's Over"
(Kurupt featuring Natina Reed)
Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey
2002 "Rock Climber" Dragonfly Presents a Better Life Through Chemistry

Filmography[edit]

List of film and television roles
Title Year Medium Role Notes
Bring It On 2001 Feature film Jenelope Film debut
V.I.P. 2001 TV series Herself Episode: "Kayus Ex Machina"
Honey 2003 Feature film Cameo appearance
Til 6 in the Morning by Platinum Souls 2008 Television film
List of music video appearances
Title Year Artist
"Not Tonight" 1997 Lil' Kim
"Welcome To Atlanta" 2001 Ludacris
"It's Over" 2001 Kurupt

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For the international release, the album was titled Blaque Ivory.[22]
  2. ^ Despite reports that Torch was not released, AllMusic erroneously reported that it was made available on August 5, 2003 and it was reviewed by Vibe.[50][51] According to the database Rate Your Music, a bootleg of the album was released in 2003.[52]
  3. ^ Reed's charges are not listed on the websites for the Gwinnett County Courts or the Gwinnett County Jail.[64]
  4. ^ Reed's mother said that she was living in a hotel during the process of moving into a new home.[78]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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Book sources[edit]

  • Peters, Beth (2008). Pop Princesses. New York City: Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-3454-8295-2. 

External links[edit]