When you hear the name Tiara Thomas, your first thought might be of her steamy, soulful vocals on Wale’s song “Bad.” But that dropped in 2013, and in the years since, she’s come up as a lot more than a vocal assist on a hit single (which she also co-wrote and co-produced). Thomas is a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist. She co-produces all of her songs, she does her own vocal arrangements, she’s a true artist. If you’re unfamiliar, today’s a great day to change that.
Quickly after the success of “Bad,” she signed to a label. That label packaged her up as a pop vocalist, but, spoiler alert, she’s just not. Now, free from the label, Thomas is reclaiming her original sound, musical content, and career path. “When I signed to the label my sound kind of…it’s not what I wanted to do. It’s not where I wanted my sound to go. It went to a more poppy side and that confused a lot of people,” Tiara told Leafly during a recent phone conversation.
“When I got out of the label, I released 'Up In Smoke' and that was me saying, 'Hey, fuck you guys, I’m going to make this music. I’m going to be myself.”
It’s an age-old story: A unique talent signs to a label, the label traps talent into a certain bubble, the unhappy and mis-categorized act fades away from relevance and authenticity. But Thomas isn’t having any of that story, and cannabis gets a starring role in her new rise.
Upon parting with the label, Thomas dropped an EP entitled Up In Smoke, a 100% cannabis-themed release that’s a far cry from “label-approved” content of before. Of it she says, “When I was with the label, they didn’t like me writing songs about smoking weed. When I got out of the label, I released Up In Smoke and that was me saying, ‘Hey, fuck you guys, I’m going to make this music. I’m going to be myself.’”
We’re all the better for it. Thomas’ most recent project, FWMM (Fucking With My Mind), is absolute fire. “When I got out of my record deal, I went back to my roots. I went back to the more sultry vibey sound.” FWMM is soulful and deep. It’s personal. Above all, the music just makes you feel good. From tracks like “FWMM” to the upbeat “Retro 1’s,” it’s the type of music that’ll inspire you to roll about 17 joints—a process that Thomas considers an intimate ritual—and zone out into a melodic adventure.
So, what’s next for Tiara Thomas? Shows. Performances. The road. Fresh off an overseas tour with H.E.R. and a performance at Snoop Dogg’s 420 Wellness Retreat, Thomas’ goal is to be on the road for the rest of the year. When asked what a Tiara Thomas show is like, she replies, “My performance has definitely changed a lot. I remember when I was just sitting down playing acoustic guitar. I didn’t get to perform with a band, so now these shows I’ve been doing, I be having my band and we be kind of turned up. It’s definitely more of a high energy show.”