Brandy finally signed on in March. She said that McGhee’s pilot script spoke to her more than any other she has read, given her personal experience with navigating single motherhood and rediscovering her voice after a time away from the spotlight. “Music is my first love, so to be a part of a show where I can actually sing, dance, rap, act — it’s like a dream role,” she said.
In a video interview from Atlanta, where she has been filming the 13-episode first season of “Queens,” Brandy spoke about her biggest rap inspirations, the show’s exploration of womanhood and the possibility of a “Moesha” reunion. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
The rap from the ’90s has a distinct sound and lyricism, so how have you managed to find your own tone and cadence for Xplicit? Do you have any specific models or inspirations?
Oh my God, yes. I haven’t had much experience, but I’ve been rapping for a little bit and I’ve always wanted to push my instrument to whatever level it could go to. I’ve been inspired all my life by hip-hop. For Xplicit, it’s been Nas, Jadakiss, Cam’ron, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj.
I love the challenge of having to find a certain tone to become Xplicit. Because the way she’s written, she’s the glue that holds everything together, so I had to find this certain kind of swag that I don’t naturally have. I had to really work on that.
Beyond the musical elements, the themes of sisterhood and second chances seem prominent.
What I love is that no matter what, no matter how old, no matter how young, your dreams are important. If you still have your desire, if you still have a passion for what you do, there are always second and third chances. That’s how the universe works, especially if you’re putting in the work.