"I'm a pop star, not a rock star, not a rap star. Actually, I'm a rap star, too, I guess," says the former teen sensation.
Aaron Carter is ready to party again.
After a dalliance with reality TV ("House of Carters," "Dancing With the Stars," "Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off") and a 2011 stint at the Betty Ford Center, the onetime teen sensation is back on the road with his After Party Tour and says he's ready to make some more music -- sooner rather than later.
"I never thought it would happen again," Carter tells Billboard. "I spent so many nights the past few years just praying to God, 'Please let me tour again. Let me do what I love.' I went from being the lowest of low, wondering if I was ever going to be me again -- and then actually realizing I never will be me again. I'm gonna be an improved version of what I was growing up and have a lot more experience to use."
Currently without a label deal, Carter -- whose last album, "Another Earthquake," came out in 2002 -- says he's "just in the studio experimenting with some stuff right now." The first fruits of that is "City Lights," a single that he hopes to release "pretty soon," along with a video and some remixes. "It's, like, pop/R&B," Carter says. "It's me. That's who I am. I'm a pop star, not a rock star, not a rap star. Actually, I'm a rap star, too, I guess."
He hopes to follow "City Lights" with a full-length album later this year or in 2014. "I want it to be another party record -- 'Aaron's Party, Part 2,'" he says, referring to his 2000 set "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)."
Meanwhile, Carter -- who was also part of an Off-Broadway production of "The Fantastiks" in 2011 -- says he's been very happy with the turnout for the After Party Tour shows, and a response that he says has been "insane. It's so intense to be able to do these songs and have people lose their minds again, just like they did back in the day. It's almost like (the fans) are seeing a ghost or something. For a lot of them, I was their first album that they ever got, the first (music) they really knew, and when they see me their reaction is...just so crazy, so intense. I'm honored by that, and I want to do my best for them. I know it's going to be hard to get people to believe in me again. They think I'm not dependable or I'm gonna fall off the wagon. But I've really got my life figured out. I know who I'm gonna be for the rest of my life. Now I have to show that to everybody."
Carter doesn't mind doing the old songs, either. "It's what made me who I am, and (the fans) love it," he notes. But he is pleased to be seeing a little more lingerie hit the stage these days. "Oh yeah, bras and all kinds of stuff," Carter says with a laugh. "We all crack up about it. I went from being Aaron Carter to being Tom Jones."