Back to square one. That's where Macy Gray found herself when she began recording her new album, "The Sellout." The album isn't out until June 22, but you can hear the whole thing first -- before it's released right here on Billboard.com right now.
Gray began recording "The Sellout" in 2009, 10 years since the release of the soul singer's multiplatinum, Grammy Award-winning Epic Records debut, "On How Life Is." Both the album and its runaway lead single, "I Try," ascended to No. 1. But Gray's career stalled with her subsequent Epic projects, 2001's "The Id" and 2003's "The Trouble With Being Myself." "Big," her 2007 album on Will.i.am's Geffen-distributed imprint, failed to catch on as well.
So Gray came up with a new game plan. Maybe she'd do what everyone else was doing: simply hire the hottest producers and songwriters du jour. However, an eye-opening jolt of reality set in when no one returned her calls.
"Having left the label, I was in a situation where I had to start all over again," Gray says from her home in Los Angeles. "I was on my own again; back to being a new artist. After getting to a place in my career where I'd tried everything that was asked of me, it was very liberating."