By Nia B
In 2001, when we first heard the sultry voice of Ketara “KeKe” Wyatt on the ‘80s remake of “My First Love” with R&B artist Avant, no one would have ever guessed she was only 19 years old. A young woman with the sound of a seasoned songstress, it was only a matter of time before she dropped her first album and made a name for herself in the world of R&B.
After a domestic dispute with her husband and manager during Christmas of 2002, many thought her musical career would suffer when the news surfaced, and rumors spawn out of control. Although charges were never brought against KeKe, she didn’t let the incident stifle her progress. She continued to pursue her career by signing with Cash Money Records in 2004. However, after two years she felt like her project wasn’t being pushed with the energy needed for personal satisfaction and ended up leaving the Hip-Hop based label.
Now, three years later, KeKe Wyatt is back and feeling better than ever with a new album dropping this fall. While many wonder what really happened on that Christmas day back in ’02, KeKe scratches the surface on the incident, talks about her place at TVT Records, and why she believes she’s sings better than Beyoncè. Yes, you read that right…Beyoncè Knowles!
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You were originally, a part of the group Girls Tyme, which eventually went on to become Destiny’s Child, correct?
KeKe Wyatt: That was years, and years, and years ago. Well during that time, we weren’t called that. We were called, The Dollz. It was set up by Janice Cummings, but I decided that I wanted to be a solo artist.
AHHA: How long were you in the group?
KeKe: Not for very long. I grew up around boys, so girls just really weren’t my thing, because they have their own way of thinking and feeling that are so different from my own. So I just prefer to not be around. I just do the “me” thing, and I can get on my own nerves sometimes.
AHHA: So being in an all girls group just wasn’t your thing?
KeKe: Nope, it’s not my thing. It’s not to say that I can’t hang out with them, but when working with them, everyone wants to be the star and it’s every woman for herself. It just wasn’t for me.
AHHA: Where there any particular girls in the group you didn’t get along with?
KeKe: No, I just wanted to be solo.
AHHA: When you were in Girls Tyme, was Beyoncè in the group?
KeKe: No. She wasn’t there yet. If you notice, I’m yellow. My natural hair is the color she dyes her hair. I have the little waist with the big booty. It’s all the same thing but I sing better, so [it was their loss]. Say I don’t [sing better than Beyonce].
AHHA: You have a soulful edge, she has a more of a R&B pop edge.
KeKe: I mean, I can do all of that too, but that ain’t me. I can do gospel, R&B, pop, country, opera. I can do it all, but this is what I prefer to do right now in my life.
AHHA: That’s totally understandable, you two are two different artists. At the end of the day, I’m an old soul. I would probably pick up your CD if that’s what I’m feeling at that point in time.
KeKe: That’s how the majority of the world is which I love, so hopefully this time when people get my album they’ll be crazy for it.
AHHA: What have you been doing to maintain since your last album dropped?
KeKe: Well, I’ve been pretty much doing spot dates and touring, but I’ve just been trying to get my life together and focus. I’m learning what works best for me and not everybody else. A major hold up was with Cash Money Records. They were too slow for me. They were good don’t get me wrong, but they were too slow and eating up too much of my time. I had to leave that situation.
It just wasn’t going fast enough for me. I have no personal problems with Baby, [Lil’] Wayne, none of them. That was two years right there, so now I’m with TVT Records with Lil’ Jon, Ying Yang twins, and Pitbull. It’s a good look, because I’m their number one R&B chick, whereas everyone is else is Hip-Hop. They’re really putting all their time and effort into me which I love.
AHHA: Being an R&B artist on a Hip-Hop based label like Cash Money, did you feel that your project didn’t get as much attention because it was an R&B album?
KeKe: No, they are just super super slow and country and weren’t moving fast enough. I’m ready to be out now. Since I got with TVT things have started rolling. I’ve finished the album, we have a name – Ghetto Rose. I have a release date, September 25th. My single has just been sent off to be legalized, and it’s also called “Ghetto Rose.”
I’m on my way now to Atlanta to get fitted for a photo shoot, and then I have a video shoot the following week, so everything is in progress with them. I’m happy about that.
AHHA: Do you regret the two years you were signed with Cash Money, or was it a learning experience?
KeKe: No, I don’t regret doing it at all. There were no problems. Like I said, they are really nice guys. Everybody was still there when I was there – Juve[nile] and Mannie Fresh – and they were kind and treated me like the lady that I am. They are just super duper country and they move so slow. I need a fast pace. I’m 25.
In this industry, you can’t get old without people being like, “Oh my God, she’s getting old.” People have always thought I was older, because I carry myself more mature, especially with the songs I sing. I mean, I’ve let my hair grow out and everything. When I first came out, I had just had a baby. I’ve lost that mother-bearing weight that I had when I first came out, although people had gotten used to seeing me that way.
Instead of me putting everybody in my business and telling them the situation, I just let it go. But now, I’m back to my normal weight. I’m a size six. I’m five foot eight. So when they see me, they’re going to be like, “Oh my God! She looks different.”
AHHA: I’m glad you brought that up. You look great!
KeKe: See…you saw me and thought that? I had a lot of people see me and they were saying, “Oh that’s not her!” People would ask me what I did, and I’d just tell them I let my hair grow and lost my baby fat. I’m 5’8, so when I was heavier I was just a size 12, but you know TV adds like 10-12 pounds.
AHHA: How important is image to you?
KeKe: Image is very important, because I want to look good for myself and two, because it’s very important in this world. If somebody’s pretty, you’ll pick up a magazine just because someone is pretty. Everybody wants to emulate something. If you want it to sell, you got to be looking like something. So hey, I don’t mind being that person they want to emulate.
AHHA: How cool are you with Avant? Do you ever plan to work with him again?
KeKe: Avant and I are still cool. We’re going to go work on a duets album.
AHHA: A duet album sounds like it would be a good fit for you two.
KeKe: Avant and I are really good friends, we’ll always be friends, and we’ll always work together. Sometimes, I regret coming out with him because people are always like, “Oh, you’re the girl that came out with Avant.” Then, I’m thinking, “I have a name. My name is KeKe Wyatt.” Sometimes, I wish I had come out by myself and then came out together [with Avant] but, whatever. We had two number one hit singles, so I don’t care. Be looking out for him as well. He’s coming out again too.
AHHA: To spiral back to the incident that allegedly happened between you and your husband, I know that it’s old news per se, and whatever happened happened, but my question is how do you feel about being associated with that incident?
KeKe: I used to let it bother me, but I don’t anymore. I had to do what I had to do. I’m not a crazy person; I’m human just like everyone else. We all have problems in our relationships – I handled mine in a little awkward way. While I’ve been [moving on with my life], people think that I’ve been locked up, but I haven’t been. I can’t say I didn’t spend the night in jail, but I haven’t been in prison a day in my life, nor can I say that what you’ve read about didn’t happen either.
AHHA: I heard an interview you did with Wendy Williams a while back and I recall clearly that you denied the incident?
KeKe: I only did that because she was getting on my nerves, because they were being really rude playing sound effects while I was talking like I was retarded. At that point, I decided not to give any information because I felt so disrespected. You don’t disrespect people and think that they’re going to give you answers.
So I was like, nope, believe whatever you want to believe. She’s very rude. The questions that I was being asked were a little offensive, so I was trying to think about what I wanted to say to this woman so that I wouldn’t clock out on her and catch another case. Meanwhile, the dude kept pressing the crickets button so I was just like, “Oh, okay!” and denied everything. I was like take this: I’m going to write a book and let everybody read about it.
I’m calm and collected, but don’t play with me. She likes to try people, and I’m not the one for trying, as you can see. I’m nice, I’m cool, I’m collected, but don’t play with me.
AHHA: How do you think being attached to that has affected your career though?
KeKe: Actually, I hated the way that people thought of me for a while, but once I saw how many records I was starting to sell, I was like screw it. Think what you want to think! I guess women could relate to what I was saying. I don’t promote violence, but I will say stand up for you, and don’t let any man run over you. I come from a white woman, my face is too yellow. I can’t be walking around with no big ole’ bruise on my face.
AHHA: Let’s talk about your album. What can be expected?
KeKe: Just know that it’s hot! My favorite song is “Never Do It Again.” It’s about women messing up in a relationship. Then, I have a song that I wrote called “Travel the World,” which is about me knowing now what I know now and seeing that I could’ve done a lot of things different instead of being a fool in love.
Then you wake up and you’re like, boo, n*gga be gone. My new single is me talking to the guys saying don’t make it harder than what it already is, she’s a ghetto rose. At the same time, ladies, put some clothes on and get treated like a lady; when you look like a hoe, dress like a hoe, you’ll get treated like a hoe. My mother and I are best friends, she’s 45 and she’s always telling me if I want a man to treat me right I need to wake up and smell this coffee. I know I’m a role model, so I have to set the example, because I know that I have messed up [in the past], but I can help correct that.
AHHA: What part of your life do you feel you messed up on?
KeKe: Well, I was married at eighteen in 2000. I’m not saying that getting married young is bad, but I was a little naïve and he was nine years older than me – which is fine – but I just wish that my eyes were open a little more before I just jumped into love. I don’t want [other women] to make the same mistakes. Know the person first.
Although you never really know a person, you can still get to know them better. Go to college, give yourself a chance, and see what life has in store before you go make a big life decisions. I mean – I’m KeKe [and I’m] happy. I’m blessed. I get on my knees and tell Christ my problem and He helps me, and I want them to know that.
AHHA: Are you still married?
KeKe: I’m very happy. I won’t say yes or no.
AHHA: Well KeKe you know Allhiphop.com plays a huge role in the Hip-Hop community and on the internet. Numerous people are going to read this interview. Some remember you from working with Avant and know that you had an album out, but many people are still curious about the altercation that happened between you and your husband. This would be a perfect time to clear the air and let everybody know what really happened and what prompted you to snap off that day.
KeKe: I’m going to write a book, and I’m going to tell the whole story. And everybody will get to know. If I tell the story now, I can’t write the book. If you listen closely to my album [Ghetto Rose] you’ll hear a lot of little stuff that will make you say – Oh!