It started with a song that might be about masturbation. It was 2002 and R&B singer Tweet [born Charlene Keys] had spent time behind the scenes as a backing/guest vocalist on a few Missy Elliot tracks before pairing with Elliot producer Timbaland. The resulting track, “Oops (Oh My),” found sultry Tweet moaning lines such as “I was looking so good I couldn’t reject myself” and “Oops, there goes my shirt up over my head.” The ode to self-pleasure became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard R&B chart and her Elektra Records’ debut Southern Hummingbird, soon followed. Just like that, Tweet had become a major name in R&B.
But because of label problems her 2005 sophomore set, It’s Me Again, took three years, a lifetime in the R&B world. And while songs like the single “Turn Da Lights Off” were infectious, the album never garnered the commercial success of its predecessor. Frustrated, Tweet disappeared, determined never to do music again.
“I had started recording my second album when Elektra merged with Atlantic,” says Tweet of It’s Me Again. “People at the label that I worked with the fi rst time around were no longer there. The new team wanted me to make changes to the album, make it sound more hip-hop—which I did, but that wasn’t enough. They had me make more changes. I just didn’t want to do music anymore because of that.”
So, she didn’t. She was released from her contract and Tweet was free. The Rochester, NY, native went back to being full-time mom to her teenage daughter Tashawna, but couldn’t deny her own passion to make music. When her manager at the time, Violator Management President Mona Scott-Young, called with an indie label deal from music veteran Jheryl Busby (Patti LaBelle, New Edition) and his Umbrella Recordings, which included Tweet owning her own masters, it was an offer she couldn’t refuse.