It's been 40 minutes, and I'm still sitting at Mid-City Italian restaurant Ca' Brea waiting for singer Lyrica Anderson. I'm sipping a large glass of water and making small talk with her publicist. “You know how artists are,” she says. “Always late.”
Moments later, Anderson glides into the room, gold chain dangling from her neck and frizzy ringlets of red and black hair framing her glowing face. “Do you mind if I wear my sunglasses?” she asks, giggling. “I'm kind of getting sick, and my eyes are so puffy.” Before I answer, she runs to the bathroom. Another ten minutes pass, and she returns with the sunglasses tucked in her bag.
At this point I suspected I could peg her type with relative accuracy: a beautiful R&B diva-in-training who doesn't give a shit about anyone else's time. After all, she already has written and sung for Timbaland on his upcoming album Shock Value III and collaborated with artists like Missy Elliott, Chris Brown, Dr. Dre and Miley Cyrus. She is now signed to Timbaland's Mosley Music Group imprint; all signs pointed to her being an artist on the verge of breaking out, with the attitude to match.
But I was wrong. At one point in the conversation she makes an unexpected disclosure. “I lost my identical twin sister when I was three years old,” she says, fighting back tears. “My father walked out on us when she passed away, and I was raised by my mother. I always felt like a piece of me was missing.”
Now 23, Anderson grew up in Canyon Country, and she started writing and recording music at 14 with her mother, who shares the name Lyrica. “You know, growing up without a father when everyone else around me had one was difficult. It made me have trust issues,” she goes on. “I just started putting my issues into my music.”
She and her mother wrote their first song together, “Last Time,” which was about Anderson's boyfriend at the time and how he wasn't right for her. Her mother was a successful singer herself, and she helped her daughter find a producer to hone her songwriting and musical style. She started writing songs for other artists, including Billboard number one dance song “Pyramid” by Charice, “Together” by Demi Lovato and the remix of Rick Ross's “Diced Pineapples.”
In 2008, she moved to Los Angeles to further her career. After some time kicking around the club scene, she had a chance meeting with a friend of Timbaland's at Toast. He hooked the two up, and, before Lyrica knew it, she was flown to Miami to record with the superstar producer. Within 15 minutes of meeting him, he told her to get in the booth and start singing background vocals to one of his tracks. “I was shitting bricks, but I didn't let him see for one second that I was nervous. I really wanted to impress him.”
The pair worked on and off over the course of six months to make Shock Value III, which will be released later this year. “We had crazy chemistry. He would give me a note, and then I would come up with some lyrics,” she recalls. “He rolls with a big crew, and they're all men. The pressure was always on, especially when Jimmy Iovine would be sitting in the room.”
Anderson stops talking for a second, swaying her body to Sade's “Cherish the Day,” which is playing at the restaurant. The lyrics “I won't be afraid, I won't keep running,” are delivered precisely on key in a warm, gentle soprano voice. She gathers herself and continues on, noting that one of the only times she ever has been starstruck was when she met Missy Elliott last year.
The two were introduced at Timbaland's studio when Elliott dropped by to contribute to Shock Value III. A dream was fulfilled when the two collaborated six months later. “I absolutely loved working with her,” she says. “We had girl talk, and she kept giving me new ideas to work with. She was super sweet and humble. It was really cool.”
I ask her what's up with the name of her mixtape King Me.
“It's about a girl talking from a man's perspective,” she replies. “I took all the experiences I've been through, and what men have put me and my friends through, and I came up with the title. I wanted to feel like I was wearing the pants.”
The mixtape, which drops today, is the first expressly personal project Anderson has completed, and it stands as the culmination of her journey from writer/collaborator to solo artist. She relishes exploring the joys and disappointments of her past in order to fuel her work, and hopes fame could potentially help her in one specific way. “I would like to find my dad one day. I haven't seen him since I was three years old. I want to see if we have anything in common.”