We recently had an opportunity to interview Tweet on Instagram Live. During our conversation, we talked about the upcoming EP she will release with her original group Sugah, reuniting with DeVante Swing of Jodeci to produce the project, the history of Da Bassment, her favorite memories from recording music there, the progress she’s made towards her next album, reflections of her last album “Charlene”, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We recently heard the news that you along with your former group Sugah would be releasing a new project consisting of music you’d recorded as part of Da Bassment. It was exciting to hear this and also that DeVante Swing will be involved. Talk about that.
Tweet: We’re definitely doing an EP. Me and Susan and Rolita, which is the girls in the group. We talk all of the time. We were discussing doing an EP and some type of movie or whatever, just to explain what happened from our point of view. Then we reached out to DeVante and he is all for it. It’s going to happen.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Is this original songs or new material?
Tweet: All of the original songs. We feel like we owe it to ourselves to put those records out. They are great records. We are going to put them out.
YouKnowIGotSoul: It’s really exciting to hear that DeVante will be involved.
Tweet: Absolutely, we couldn’t do it without him. He is the reason we all came together. It just wouldn’t be right without him.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You guys have kept in touch all of these years since Da Bassment in the 90’s?
Tweet: All of these years! We had a little hiatus back awhile ago, maybe early 2000’s maybe. But we’ve been connected since. We lost touch for about 3 or 4 years, but we talk every day now.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What do you remember most about your experience in Da Bassment?
Tweet: I know it taught me a lot. People would call it a boot camp. I didn’t understand then when I was in Da Bassment, but it kinda created the need to perfect your craft without having the influence from so many things or people in the world. When we were in Da Bassment, we couldn’t watch videos or listen to any other music. We had to really hone in on who we are. Just perfect our craft. I remember a lot of fun, a lot of drinking! *Laughs* We went on tour with Jodeci and Bad Boy, we had great times.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What was it like day to day in Da Bassment?
Tweet: Constant music. There was nothing we wouldn’t do that wasn’t musical. We would get in trouble if we weren’t writing or singing on something musical. We couldn’t be sitting around chillin not doing anything. That’s what the day to day life was, just all music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Revisit the story of how you originally joined Da Bassment.
Tweet: Jodeci came to Rochester to record their last album, “The Show, The After Party, The Hotel”. DeVante brought all of his artists there, Da Bassment. Not Swing Mob, but it probably was a part of it. He needed to replace a member of Sugah so I auditioned. That’s when I found out about everybody and I met Timbaland, Missy, Magoo, Playa, Ginuwine, and that’s how I knew. I’m from Rochester, that’s my hometown born and raised.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What was that audition process like?
Tweet: It was about 3 other girls in there. I sung an original song. I don’t think I did too good on the audition. I was just chillin, I didn’t want to be in a group, I was already in a rap group. I had the opportunity so I said let me go see what’s going on. I knew Jodeci was in town but I didn’t know all of this was going on. So then I went to the studio and saw all of this music just everywhere in every room, so much talent. I definitely wanted to be part of this.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Why do you think Da Bassment didn’t work out as planned?
Tweet: It just dragged on too long. We would get deals, but the deals would either fall through or we didn’t have that push from the labels. Or DeVante was scared. We had a whole lot of opportunity to make it happen with different labels. It just didn’t work. People got frustrated with the time wasted and spent with nothing happening. People start dwindling off and leaving.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You were able to make something out of it though turn it into a solo career.
Tweet: Yea I’m grateful. I owe it to DeVante for allowing me the space to be able to create with my girls and with all of the artists. I’m grateful.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s take it back up to date. Talk about the new music you’ve been working on. You have the new single “I Admit It” out.
Tweet: “I Admit It” is a song I had wrote maybe in 2007 or 2008. I worked with Charlie Bereal, we call ourselves The Lordships. That’s Charlie Bereal, Nisan Stewart, Craig Brockman and Jubu Smith. We just have so many records that Charlie had the vocals for it. He just re-did a track for it. It’s not an official single, just something I put out until the official single and album comes out. It’s been awhile. “Charlene” came out in 2016. I wanted to just release something that I thought was dope. We put it out there.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Did the pandemic change your plans for new music?
Tweet: It put a hold on the live shows. But as far as the new music, we can still put it out. Right now, I’m in a I don’t even know what to call it with the label I’m supposedly signed to. They are sending me somewhere else or something. I don’t know, some mess. I’m determined to put the album out.
YouKnowIGotSoul: With you originally being a part of a group, how did you develop your own sound as a solo artist?
Tweet: I never wanted to be a solo artist. I was always in groups. In high school I was in a group called Greater Love. We were in a Gospel group, we sung all over Rochester. Then later on in the year, Ricky Metro, one of my close friends in Rochester, he lives in Atlanta now, he came up with this idea and it just clicked. We became a group and I was just chillin. I was working and being a mom and stuff like that. Then one of my friends said they were holding auditions. So I did that, and then in the middle of that I got tired. At certain points we’d go home from recording. Once they left Rochester. I was sitting in a room and wrote “Motel” on a guitar and that’s how that happened. Not for a solo act, but that’s where my writing started and I started to create my sound and something of the Tweet thing.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You definitely have created a memorable sound. Since the “Southern Hummingbird” debut album, you’ve been known for giving such soothing and soulful and peaceful music.
Tweet: I didn’t choose it. It chose me. I just found myself always gravitating to the soulful stuff, the stuff that means something and that type of vibe. I was always drawn to that. I remember DeVante telling us one time, if you are just going to be earthy, you are not going to be a hit artist. Then he went down the line on the three of us and told us what type of artist we’d be as solo artists. Sugah all had talent in our own right.
YouKnowIGotSoul: “Smoking Cigarettes” has become a fan favorite. Will we ever see the video for that song?
Tweet: I only have snippets of that. But we did in fact go to Canada and Little X shot the video. We had a snippet of “Boogie 2nite” in the beginning. It just never came out because they went with “Call Me” as the second single. “Smoking Cigarettes” was supposed to be the second single. I fought that because I said we have Verizon commercials, and they were using “Call Me”. So that was already out there, I wanted to do something that has something to do with the rest of the record. The rest of the record was soulful and I didn’t want to be known as a hip hop artist and then people buy the record and are surprised. They cancelled that. The whole program, we had The Truth commercial people involved, it intertwined with the video, it was going to be really good, but I don’t understand why they didn’t go with it. I guess “Call Me” was more like “Oops Oh My”.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Another fan favorite you have is “Cab Ride”. Was there ever a video for that one?
Tweet: “Taxi” aka “Cab Ride”, I couldn’t call it “Taxi”, that record was very special to me. I really wanted to do a video for all of the songs on that album. I thought that album could have gone further than it did, but they stopped at “Call Me”. I was so honored that Bob James, he never gave anybody clearance for that sample, and he gave me clearance. I was just honored.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell us the meaning behind the song “Drunk”.
Tweet: That was a time in my life when I didn’t know what I was doing. It was once I came home from and the group had broke up. I came home to take care of my daughter and I couldn’t find a job. I could remember taking my dad’s big body Lincoln and riding out to the beach and finding change. Back then you could pull out the seats in the car and have the loose change. I’d buy a 40 ounce. That song was about not having any money, but finding enough money to get drunk, and that’s all I could do to maintain. It was heavy. Coming home and not being able to support my daughter and feeling like a failure. That’s what “Drunk” was about.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve had so many epic collaborations. Which ones stand out to you?
Tweet: Bilal “Best Friend” is one. Even the song I did with Chris Dave and the Drumheadz, “Spread Her Wings” is dope. Missy of course, everything we do together is absolutely amazing. My favorite would be Bilal. That story is because I remember being in New York and getting his CD. It was like an EP. I rode around New York listening to his stuff and I wanted to work with him. I told my A&R Jay Brown at the time I had to get him on that record. I remember being in Babyface’s studio and recording it. Jay Brown told me he was coming through. When he got there, he didn’t know he was going to be on the record, he was coming to chill as far as he knew. Then we played the first verse and he was blown away, he wanted to be on it. He didn’t even go into the booth to record his part. They plugged up a mic on the board and he sang on the board. He just killed it with a bottle of whatever he was drinking. I love Bilal, that’s my brother.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve also done a lot of background vocals on songs as well. We didn’t even realize you were on the background vocals on Monica’s “So Gone”.
Tweet: Yea that’s me, and I wrote the chorus for that, and I did the reference for the whole record. That chorus is actually a Sugah song! *Laughs* Another amazing background situation I did, Missy put me on Madonna’s “American Me”. Then I’m on that duet with her and Beyonce. She used to put me on everything.
YouKnowIGotSoul: “Take Away” with Ginuwine and Missy Elliott was another one. The Aaliyah song “Where Could He Be” as well.
Tweet: I love that record. I don’t know why they never put it out, I love it!
YouKnowIGotSoul: We also love the song you have with Timbaland & Magoo “All Y’all”.
Tweet: That was the first time anybody ever heard from me! That was the first time you heard my voice and saw me in the video. That was when you saw Tweet for the first time.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Reflect back on your “Charlene” album which came out in 2016.
Tweet: That moment for me was a feeling of freedom. I would finally be able to express who I was as Charlene and not Tweet. When I say that, Charlene is the little girl who grew up in church and was influenced by quartet. I was free, Phil Thornton allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do. That’s what I needed to get out for people. I feel like music at the time was going somewhere else. I just wanted to bring it back to Charlene and the basics. That’s what I feel every time I listen to that record. I’m glad people accepted and received it. I love that record.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell us about the Sugah song “Expired”. Who wrote that?
Tweet: It was Darryl Pearson. That was one of my favorite records. He wrote and produced it. It won’t be on the EP, we won’t do that, but we love that one.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Will “Sugar & Spice” be on the EP?
Tweet: No. That was a record that Missy wrote and Timbaland produced. We want to do the stuff we did after everybody left. That’s when we really got to record Sugah with DeVante. He was being pulled so many places that we really never had a chance when everybody was around to focus on Sugah. Once everybody left, we were the last group left, and then other ones came. He focused on us. Those are the records we want to do. Those mean the most to us. That was for a good four or five years after everyone had left. We had recorded those records four, five, or six times. We’d get signed to a label, and then he’d pull us off, and then we’d get signed to another label, and he’d pull us off. There was one time we were signed to Def Jam. He wanted to go with the label, and that’s when Playa had signed there, we were also signed. DeVante wanted us to tell them we had broke up, but we were still staying with him in New York recording. They thought we had broke up. So Lior surprisingly just dropped by the apartment and he came in the house. We hid in the bathroom in the tub and put the shower curtain in front of us. But he came and found us! So the gig was up. We weren’t broken up. He wanted us to stay with him and have the best label experience. He didn’t want us to be on Def Jam. That’s one of our stories we will tell.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Being from Rochester, what was it even like having all of this talent come through there? When us New Yorkers from the city think of Rochester, it’s some small city 5 hours away near Canada!
Tweet: Listen, I didn’t even know Jodeci was there until somebody said something. I think they performed at a fashion show and some of my friends wanted to go. Rochester has a lot of talented people. It’s talent up there, it’s incredible. I didn’t realize it. But once I did the audition and saw all of this talent, every day all day, just going on. It was inspiring and I wanted to be a part of it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What can we expect this year as far as new music?
Tweet: I’m waiting to hear back about the Sugah EP. I know for a fact that DeVante has the music. He hadn’t had all of our songs. He has it now to redo it. He’s working on that and we’re going to make it happen. A new single off of the new album, I’m just waiting to hear what’s going on with all of the label confusion. It’s music coming!