Tamar Braxton relates to the “Crazy Kinda Love” she sings about in her new single, which will be featured in the True to the Game 2 film and you can preview exclusively on Billboard below.
The 2017 drama True to the Game followed an unconventional love story between charming drug lord Quadir Richards (Columbus Short) and reserved college student Gena Rollins (Erica Peeples), which later resulted in an unhappily-ever-after ending when (spoiler alert) Richards is murdered by Jerrell’s rival crew. But the sequel, bound for a spring 2020 release date, picks up a year later when Rollins, who’s moved out of her crime-riddled Philadelphia neighborhood to become a professional journalist, travels to Los Angeles for a major assignment. But the menacing characters of her past trickle back in when someone from Richards’ crew reignites a war with Jerrell to avenge his death.
Braxton helps pack in the film’s passion with her suave single “Crazy Kinda Love,” an ode to a not-so-picture-perfect relationship, like Rollins and Richards’ bad boy/good girl bond that seemed doomed from the start but remains a force to be reckoned with. The Grammy-nominated R&B singer released a snippet of her song exclusively with Billboard. Listen to “Crazy Kinda Love” below before it officially arrives on digital and streaming platforms Friday.
Braxton hopped on the phone with Billboard to discuss how she arranged her vocals to tell this love story and how she fell back in love with music in the process.
What drew you to the story being told in the first True to the Game movie and still being told by Gena in its sequel? The overall theme seems to align with the “all’s fair in love and war” principle.
Everybody wants a love story, but what drew me to it was that I’m really kind of standoffish too. And when somebody else pulls at the strings of your heart, you really don’t have a choice at the end of the day because your love takes over.
How did you take all of that into account while you were recording “Crazy Kinda Love” specifically for the movie?
For me, this is like one of the first songs that I hadn’t written before. My publisher actually played this for me, and Manny [Halley] had called me about doing a song for the soundtrack…. And once he played it, I instantly thought it would be a good fit for the movie.
What makes for a crazy kind of love like the song’s title indicates?
I think one where your guard is completely down and all your rules and all of the things that you feel like will not make you lose control in a relationship go out of the window. It doesn’t matter what a person does, you just love them so much you’re willing to work it out, instead of all of your rules holding you back from loving somebody completely. And I’d like to say I’ve been there before! [Laughs]
That just goes to show you that sometimes you have no control of love, you know? You can’t pick the person that you fall for. Sometimes it does work out in your favor when you let your guard down, but sometimes there are certain signs where you let that guard back up. Sometimes we love people so much that we ignore those signs and it’s to our detriment.
When it came to working in the movie, how was being on set with the producer Manny Halley and the rest of the cast?
Well, I’ve known Manny for a long time. He’s a good friend of my ex-husband [Vincent Herbert], and so I’ve known him for quite a while. It was such a welcoming, warm set, and it’s one of the first movies that I’ve acted in before. They just made me feel really comfortable. Everybody there was really enthusiastic and excited and ready to work and excited about the project. So the atmosphere was really positive and really welcoming in turn. … The expectations of coming on a movie set is, “Lights. Camera. Action.” And that’s it. [Laughs]So it wasn’t that. It was really family-oriented and just really welcoming. I was really grateful for that.
Tell me about your character Ariana and the role she plays in True to the Game 2.
Well, it’s not a huge role, but it’s an important one! [Laughs] I’m a receptionist, and I basically am responsible for giving some very important information away. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a small part but an important role.
A lot of your television and movie appearances are listed as Tamar Braxton playing herself, but you’re playing a fictional character for this film. Where do Ariana and Tamar overlap in personalities, if they do?
I don’t think it overlaps at all. It seems like to me that they’re very familiar with each other and they like each other. They have really good girl code.
I’m just really excited about this project. This song and this whole project really got me into recording again and wanting to be an artist. And I never thought that I wanted to have a record or to even have that kind of passion, and because of this film and because of this particular record has made me fall in love with music again.
Since you were saying it’s gotten you back into recording again, can fans expect more new music from you?
Well, I don’t want to say yes or no. [Laughs] But the interest is definitely there. The spark has definitely been fired up. So we’ll see.