When L.A. Weekly first profiled singer-songwriter Lyrica Anderson five years ago, the Canyon Country native had already racked up a respectable number of writing credits with such chart-topping pop artists as Charice and Demi Lovato, while also working alongside hitmaking legend Timbaland.
Her fan base has grown considerably, thanks to her joining the cast of VH1’s reality TV juggernaut Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood two seasons ago. Speaking with Anderson now, you can sense the 28-year-old's newfound personal and artistic maturity, as well as her growing confidence. It’s quite noticeable on a Saturday night at popular Studio City night spot Xen Lounge, where she sits radiant in her sparkly sequined bodysuit and expensive-looking high heels. Love & Hip-Hop castmates stop by to say hello, including Marcus Black, Brooke Valentine, Nia Riley and Anderson's husband and fellow songwriter, A1 Bentley, as well as her mother and mother-in-law.
Anderson was first approached by Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood's producers to join the cast for season two. But she held out until it felt right.
“It wasn’t aligning with what I was doing and it didn’t make sense,” she says. “For the third season, I took a meeting with them. They were saying that they were interested in the music and what I had going on in my real life. For me, I loved it because I got to talk about my real life, including losing my twin sister, not having my father, and issues that me and my husband A1 had. These were real-life things. It was inspiring for me to talk about my truth.”
There are tons of examples of artists unsuccessfully using the Love & Hip-Hop franchise as a way to either start or sustain a career through its sensationalized narratives. But as current chart-topping rap darling Cardi B has proven, the guilty-pleasure shows have evolved into a legitimate platform. In Anderson’s case, she arrived on Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood already armed with some serious artistic credibility — including a writing credit on Beyoncé's 2013 self-titled album.
“I got in with this producer named Detail; we wrote the ‘Jealous’ record together and he produced it,” Anderson explains. “He took it to Beyoncé and when she cut it, I was in tears because I was so excited. It was super exciting.”
Anderson has written for such upper echelon pop artists as Jennifer Hudson
Since then, she’s written for more upper-echelon pop artists, including Jennifer Hudson, Tinashe and Chris Brown. Her pen game is on display on two songs on the controversial R&B singer’s recently released Heartbreak on a Full Moon album.
“I love working with Chris Brown,” she says.“He’s super cool and a real superstar. He’s super talented, amazing and an incredibly hard worker.”
One thing she says Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood got right was how it portrayed her difficult transition from hit-making songwriter to successful solo artist.
“Segueing into [solo] artistry from songwriting is frustrating because you are now a little harder on yourself,” she explains. “When you’re writing for someone else, you’re not as hard on yourself. You’re like whatever. But when it’s on you, you’re overthinking every song.”
Anderson began honing her craft early by watching her mother, Lyrica Garrett, who toured the world singing background for Tina Turner as a teenager and went on to have a storied career as a singer for the likes of Ike Turner, Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan. “I used to go with her to the studio,” Anderson remembers. “I used to be around her and everything, just watching her. That’s probably one reason I started writing songs when I was 13.”
As her second season on Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood came to a close, Anderson released Adia, the long-awaited follow-up to her 2015 debut album, Hello. During the six or seven months it took to complete the album, Anderson focused all her attention on the project, not writing anything for other artists.
“When I did my album, I took a break from songwriting because it’s too difficult to write a song for another artist and be in love with it but you have to deliver it to that artist,” she explains. “You want it but you can’t take it back because it’s a political game. … I had to concentrate on me.”
Named after her twin sister, who died at the age of 3, Adia (which means “gift” in Swahili) includes tracks that display Anderson’s versatility, vulnerability and mainstream pop-making abilities. One moment she’s discussing her father walking out on the family on “Macaulay Culkin,” the next she's hitting the club on the Ty Dolla $ign–assisted “Dolla Bills” or doubting her man’s intentions on lead single “Don’t Take It Personal.”
“I put time into all the songs and tried to touch every area,” she says. “You have your turn-up songs, your sex songs when you're with your man, and party records.”
The smile on her face says, “Everything is right in the world.” And for Anderson, it is. She's breaking the songwriter/artist barrier on her own terms, with no distracting drama from Love & Hip-Hop spilling over into headlines to distract from the music. And with the talent embedded in her DNA, she's going to continue to write hits — not just for other artists, but for herself.
Lyrica Anderson's Adia is out now through Empire distribution.