After building notoriety and a strong following on VH1’s hit reality series, Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, Tammy Rivera used her newfound fame to bring one of her childhood dreams to life.
Growing up in the projects, the personality, swimsuit designer, entrepreneur, and actress always saw herself as a performer. A believer in God and how things happen at the right time for each person who works hard, Tammy, who is a wife and a mother, now has her moment to shine as a singer. She teamed up with Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Rico Love for her upcoming debut EP and the results so far have been nothing short of welcoming.
The lead single, “All These Kisses,” is an eargasmic and feel-good gem, and the second release, “Only One,” is another sultry offering, both tapping into ’90s and early 2000s R&B.
With almost five-million followers on Instagram, this voluptuous beauty, and businesswoman has only scratched the surface and we look forward to her success. Check out our sit down as we discuss Tammy’s love for R&B, her new music, growing up in the projects, and more.
How are you, Mrs. Tammy?
I’m great, I can’t complain. How are you?
All is well, and that’s a good thing; We should never complain!
You’re right about that [laughs].
So, before we get into your new music and your debut project, tell us, where and when did music start for you?
Music started for me way in Norfolk, Virginia as a little girl. Ever since I can remember I was singing. Everyone in my family and my friends, that’s what they know me for, not what the world know me for [laughs].
Did your parents or close relatives sing or are you a part of the first generation of singers in your family?
They didn’t sing! I just was singing, and when I was younger, people started telling me I could sing, even though I thought I sounded like a little chipmunk [laughs]. I grew up thinking I could sing. When I was eight, I started singing at church, and my Grandma would have me sing for her friends, and as I got older, it sort of just stuck with me. Everybody would say, ‘have Tammy sing, she’s the singer of the family.’ So, as far back as I can remember, I’ve been singing.
Has singing always been a dream for you?
Absolutely! Growing up, people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I would say, ‘I want to sing.’ They would say, ‘what if that don’t work out for you?’ and I would say ‘there’s nothing else but singing.’ As I got older, and I had a kid, and reality hit, you kind of lose that, and you kind of say, ‘oh well, maybe that’s not what I’m going to do.’ But, I sort of always knew I would sing one day. Also, there were other things that I loved like fashion, and I became a designer. When I met my husband, I just kind of put all of that on the back burner and I didn’t express that that’s what I really could do. And then, with time, that just came once I created my own platform, and people started to know me for me. I was just like ‘why not?’ I took the things that I’ve been through in life and decided to create my own, show my own voice, and here I am.
That’s awesome. So, there’s a stigma around Love & Hip Hop. A lot of people say many of the cast members are not really artists or they haven’t released any material. I’m not going to lie to you, you kind of shocked the R&B world after you released your single because 1) We didn’t see it coming and 2) The song was really good. On “All These Kisses,” you capture the essence of R&B. Tell us about this song, how it came about, and your plan for us musically.
My whole EP is executive produced by Rico Love. When we got in the studio, he asked me what I wanted to do, and that’s when I said I love R&B. I showed him my playlist, and everything I have is from ’90s R&B or early 2000s. That era is what I love. And he captured that precisely to the tee. So with my EP, it’s real music, good R&B music of the things that I wanna hear that I’m not hearing on the radio per se nowadays. And what people can expect from me is I just love music, and people who love the same kind of music or the same genre of music are going to love my music. I’m not putting myself inside of a box. I’m definitely going to explore as much inside this music as I can as long as it doesn’t compromise the sound of what I’m going for or compromise myself. I have a video coming for “All These Kisses” and my new single is called “The Only One.” From there, we’re going to release the whole EP.
Are you doing any records with your husband Waka Flocka on the project?
No, I’m sure we’re gonna do something in the future, but as of right now, I just want people to get to know me as an artist, as a musician, before I start to collaborate.
That’s a good thing, no training wheels.
So, you spoke about your love for the golden era, which was the ’90s and early 2000s. Who were some of the artists that inspired you? And how do these inspirations influence your musical approach?
OMG! I love Brandy, Monica, Whitney [Houston], Mariah Carey, Sade, Mya, like these are all the people that I listen to; Chante Moore. In my community, where I grew up; I’m from Baltimore, I remember going to the Fudgery. It’s like a fudge factory where they make fudge; they would have people performing to get your attention. I know that Dru Hill, Sisqo, started at the Fudgery and I remember going there like ‘I’m going to get a job at the factory because I’m going to make it as a singer.’ So, Drew Hill is like an inspiration to me because they come from where I come from, and they started from the Fudgery. Those are things that kind of inspired me when I was younger.
That’s what’s up! So as far as the debut project, what message are you looking to convey? What kind of results are you looking to get from this?
With my EP, It’s just an introduction. It’s a collection of six songs for people to get to know me as an artist. I want people to get the essence; I want them to understand my voice, I want them to hear my voice and identify with me. I want them to identify with the pain in my voice, the happiness, the confusion. I want them to identify with the music. I already have a following from Love and Hip Hop, I have a following from my social media, and my businesses that I have, so now I want them to follow me through my music and hopefully gain some new followers through the process as well. I plan to keep giving them great music.
Sounds good! So, I know this is your debut project, and it might be too early to ask, but they always say plan for your future. Where do you see yourself in five years as far as music is concerned?
Honestly, when I first released the single, I didn’t expect for it to go as crazy as it did. It’s been like three months, and it’s already gold, and that’s without any video, without any push or anything. So, I wasn’t expecting that to happen, and it did, so right now, I’m not putting any limits on anything. I see myself going as far as God can take me.
Do you plan on touring once the project is out?
Absolutely! I’m already taking dates. I definitely plan on hitting the road and putting more music out there.
What’s a day in the life of Tammy like?. Tell me about some of your other businesses as well because I know you have a bunch of stuff going on.
A day in the life of Tammy is crazy! I do my hostings on the weekends; I’m actually opening up a beauty shop right now. Of course, working on new music, the EP is complete, but I’m working on new music. I have a swimsuit line (https://t-rivera.com/), which have done amazing, it sold out the first month. We working on a TV show called “Meet the Flockers.” I’m out of my contract with Love and Hip Hop, but I’m still a supporting cast member for this season so you’ll see me on episodes of that. I’m doing a little acting; I’m just everywhere. I’m a mother, I’m a wife, so I still cook, I still clean, I make sure my daughter is taken care of. I’m just doing everything that is in my power to do. There’s so much going on, but I’m balancing that pretty good. I have a strong support team with my mom, my family, and my friends; they help me out a lot. So, a day in the life of Tammy is organized chaos [laughs].
After experiencing your personal rise to the spotlight, what advice can you give to the next person behind you?
Just keep positive people around. You don’t need negative thoughts and people who don’t believe in the same dream and the same vision because they’re going to hinder you. Positive is the best way to be. You’d be surprised how people’s negative energy and their thoughts can project onto you. You’ve got to be very careful about your space and who you let in your space and if they don’t have the same vision that you have and they don’t believe in you then what are they there for? But the main advice I can give is just know that whatever is destined for you is going to happen. Whatever God has for you has already been written, you just have to apply yourself and go get it.
Perfectly said! You said this is probably going to be your final season of Love & Hip Hop. What’s your relationship like with the cast members outside of the show?
Well, Rasheeda and I are really good friends. We talk all the time; I check on her all the time. I try to check on everyone; everyone has their own lives, and they’re working just like I am. Me and Tommy are really cool. I’m really cool with everybody; I really don’t have any enemies on the show, and I’m not beefing with anyone. I’m the peacemaker; I’m the one that’s always like ‘hey girl, how are you doing, just thinking about you.’ [laughs]
As you sit back and soak up all this newfound fame, when you think about where you came from and where you’re at now, do you have any regrets?
Absolutely not! Nothing. I don’t regret where I come from; I don’t regret anything I’ve done. I don’t regret anything because all of those things made me who I am today and is going to take me to where I need to be in the future.
From a beauty standpoint, how do you keep it right and what’s the one thing you can’t leave the house without?
I can’t leave the house without my phone and my watch [laughs]. I try my best to eat right, but that doesn’t happen all the time. I promise you that! Honestly, it’s not just about what workouts you do or the best healthy regimens, it’s also about confidence. Believing in yourself and just knowing like, OK, I’m not like this girl. I might not look like this girl, or there might be a pretty girl; there are so many beautiful girls in the world, so you just have to have confidence in yourself. I believe in myself, and I know that I’m beautiful in my own right, and other people may not think I’m beautiful, but all that matters is that I do. When you believe it, you make other people believe it.
So, what’s something about you the world wouldn’t know or wouldn’t expect?
Something about me that the world wouldn’t know or probably wouldn’t expect is that… I grew up in the projects. I come from nothing, like zero. So people don’t know that about me because people judge you by your appearance. I’m from the PJ’s [laughs]… sometimes you had to wipe your ass with newspaper because you didn’t have no f**king tissue — that’s how poor we grew up [laughs].
Hahaha! As far as your upcoming project, what’s your plan for the next year?
I think I’m going to drop the EP and then I want to start working on a mixtape. I don’t want to skip the process; I want to be on that grind. I want to do what every great singer or musician had to do to get to where they are. I want to rightfully build my musical fan base.
What’s your stance on the success of Cardi B, another LHH cast member?
I’m super proud of her. You would think I knew her. I mean, I hung out around her, but we’re not friends, we don’t talk on the phone or anything, but I’m just super proud. She broke barriers that are unheard of and on top of that, she did it from a Love & Hip Hop platform. She used what she had, with the odds against her, and continued to strive for success. I feel like everything that she has and everything that came to her, she rightfully went and got. People try to compare all the time and say ‘how come Nicki [Minaj] never hit number one but Cardi did,’ and I always say, ‘It ain’t about that, that’s what God had written for her already.’ She took it and went and got it, and if she would have given up, that would have went to someone else. But she went and got what was rightfully hers. So, from one proud black woman to another woman, I’m super happy for her.
And that’s my final question! From a female standpoint, it seems that the outside and maybe inside the industry, they kind of try to pin women against each other when there’s so much room for a bunch of female rappers to go get it. Do you feel like some of these female rappers share some of the blame because they get sucked into it?
Honestly speaking, I feel like we allow society and people to play us against each other. As far as a lot of female rappers, they only can take blame for their actions. There’s so many male rappers dominating the game, at once. I don’t understand why it has to be one female at a time; it doesn’t make sense. And instead of them working together, they allow society to make them throw shots or sneak diss or face off against each other. The way I’m built and made up; the person I am won’t allow me to be jealous of a Cardi B because, like I said, when you believe in what God has for you is for you, then it won’t allow you to be jealous of someone else’s success because what God has for me is designed only for me. And what he has for you is designed only for you. So when you believe, and then you tap into that, there is no room for you to be jealous or envious of anyone else.
Preach! You know, when males battle, it’s called hip-hop, but when females battle, It’s a fight. It’s really up to some of these female rappers to help change the language.
When you see another black woman or woman of color succeed, it should make you proud. It makes me proud! When I saw Cardi B, I swear it put fire in my ass. I was like, great, somebody from Love and Hip Hop, and like you said earlier, a show that has a certain stigma. She’s winning, and there’s nothing you can say. I hosted for her, and I said ‘you opened the door for me even though it’s a whole different genre.’
Sounds good! Thank you and good luck with your projects.
Thank you so much. I definitely appreciate you taking the time out to speak with me.
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