R&B singer Teedra Moses doesn’t care about relevance. She cares that she’s being effective as an artist, and perhaps that’s why’s she’s still in the music industry 15 years after her debut. She has spent the majority of her career as an independent artist.
Moses’ debut album, Complex Simplicity was released on August 10, 2004, on TVT Records. To commemorate Complex Simplicity‘s 15th anniversary, Moses re-released the album via The Orchard on Friday, Sept. 27, which contains four additional tracks.
Moses’ songs “Doin’ You,” “You Better Tell Her -TVT Mix” featuring Pitbull, “Cabernet Sauvignon,” and “I Think of You (3 Generations),” were added. “Doin’ You” and “Cabernet Sauvignon” were from previous projects and “I Think of You” is a re-working of the ode to her late mother, “I Think Of You (Shirley’s Song),” featuring her twin sons, Raj and Taj Austin.
“When TVT Records went bankrupt, Orchard bought the record company. At that time I guess I hadn’t recouped so they bought my debt as well. So I wasn’t able to make any money off of the album because it never recouped. What Orchard did for me was we kind of started in a clean state so I can start making money off the album,” Moses explains.
The mother of two has decided to take some of the proceeds from the re-release of her debut album and donate them to single parents via her non-profit Shirley’s Angels. “I just wanted to make sure that some of the proceeds went to single parents. I just felt like it was a good thing for me to do to give back to single parents because I know that struggle,” Moses says.
“It turned out to be a really good thing and monumental to me because now I’m not in a place where I’m struggling as a single mom. ”
It was during the time that Moses began submitting songs to TVT for Complex Simplicity that she started penning records for other artists such as Nivea (“Still In Love”), Christina Milian (“Dip It Low”), Teairra Mari (“Get Up On Ya Gangsta”), and Mary J. Blige (“So Lady”), among others.
On Complex Simplicity‘s Biggest Single
Her label actually wanted to take the fan-favorite song “Be Your Girl,” which was the second single for Complex Simplicity, for another artist. The popular track was inspired by Anita Baker’s “I Just Wanna Be Your Girl” featuring Chapter 8.
The self-proclaimed “Young Lioness” said that she’s glad that she never gave the song away for another artist to sing.
“I feel very happy about that. The songs that we had picked for my album, I felt like they were mine. I would make you one like it, but I wouldn’t give it to you. I’m so glad that my stubborn ways paid off because I love songs about a crush. People also don’t realize that the song was inspired by Anita Baker when she was with Chapter 8,” Moses explains.
“She had this song,” Teedra says before mimicking Anita Baker and singing, “I just wanna be your, I just wanna be your girl,” effortlessly into the phone. “And I was a kid listening to this song. It was like those words and those melodies to me were so beautiful,” Moses says.
“Be Your Girl” was inspired by another artist, Nas. “At the time he was the guy who everybody had a crush on, and he was really cute. Not that he isn’t anymore. He had made an album, Stillmatic that made me pay attention to him more. The second one was God’s Son. I don’t know if his mom died around that time, but my mom had died around that time. The way that he was speaking on God’s Son just resonated with me and it comforted me because I was really sad so, it just made me have this really intense crush on him outside of him being cute,” Moses explains.
“To the point where I had made it up in my head that if I wrote this song and did a video and he would see it, he would marry me, but that’s like the innocence of a young mind. I was about 23 years old, but I was still innocent in my mind in that way, which I think is really beautiful because I was really honest and vulnerable.”
On Collaborating With Producers And Artists Who Contributed To The Album
Complex Simplicity was largely produced by Paul Poli, another fellow Sagittarius who Moses says she had astonishing chemistry with although they frequently butted heads. “With Poli, no matter how headstrong he was and how headstrong I was the chemistry was amazing and we respected each other musically.” Ne-Yo did vocal arrangements. “He [Ne-Yo] was the person who brought the peace and the harmony,” says Moses. “He was the person literally bringing the harmony too. He arranged all the vocals.”
Raphael Saadiq appeared on Complex Simplicity‘s “Take Me,” offering Moses’ debut the coveted co-sign that any new R&B artist would love to have. Moses would also later appear on Saadiq’s 2004 album Ray Ray on “Chic,” “I Want You Back,” and “I Love Her.”
“Working with Raphael Saadiq was really amazing because he was the first person that I was working with at that time on that level. That was a person that made me feel good about myself as an artist,” Moses says. “He allowed me to do me. He didn’t try to alter me in any way and that was a compliment to me as a person who was so experienced and professional.”
On Catching The Eye Of Anita Baker
Moses, who admires Anita Baker, had a recent heartwarming exchange on Twitter with the iconic singer. She took to Twitter and Instagram to briefly announce the re-release of Complex Simplicity and explain how the album helped her to take care of her children although she didn’t initially receive any royalties from it. Baker retweeted Mose’s tweet/thread and wrote, “this thread. this energy. thanks for sharing. No Apology necessary. #Tell ItLikeItIs,” leaving Moses floored and almost in tears.
“That totally just blows me away and literally makes me want to cry because I love her vocally so much,” Moses says.
A young Teedra Moses, who grew up in New Orleans, would often hang with her older sister and older friends while they talked about boy problems while listening to artists like Baker.
“I was a little girl, but I remember that experience. I really want my music to be like that. Where sisters can sit and have a moment together where it’s [issues] behind you and it doesn’t bother you. And every now and again you find yourself singing those notes,” Moses says, speaking about how she wants her work to affect its listeners.
“And that’s what Anita Baker was for us. When she did that, I was like God really loves me,” Moses says before bursting into laughter.
Teedra Moses hasn’t signed another major record deal since signing with the now-defunct TVT Records and releasing Complex Simplicity. And as an independent artist, she’s repeatedly toured the United States and Europe, written songs for various other artists, and she even got the attention of and respect from an iconic artist who she admires dearly. Perhaps that’s effective enough.
The re-release of Complex Simplicity is currently available on streaming platforms and the vinyl release will be available towards the end of the year.