When I ask Dawn Richard to name a modern R&B artist she considers groundbreaking, she doesn’t hesitate before choosing herself.
“I don’t want to be cocky but, yeah,” she continues. “I think what we’re doing is pretty fucking groundbreaking. And I had to say me because you know the reality is when you’re independent, you don’t get cheerleaders. I don’t have anybody giving me that cosign, so I’ve got to cosign myself.”
Richard knows what it’s like to taste mainstream success. She was one-fifth of the girl group Danity Kane, which initially disbanded in 2009 after forming in 2005 on Diddy’s MTV series, Making the Band 3. Although the ladies of Danity Kane have said that Diddy’s behavior on and after Making the Band contributed to the group’s eventual break-up, Richard told Jezebel she thinks the show should be revived.
“I think we should executive-produce it. I think it should have a similar format, but I think being run by women, it would change the dynamic of how we were pitted against each other,” she said. “I got it that it was good for ratings to make us look crazy, but I think there’s stronger ways to make women look great and get ratings and you can do it in a positive way.”
Richard took part in the group’s 2014 reunion, which rebranded them as DK3 sans original members D. Woods and Aundrea Fimbres). They broke up again the same year, before reuniting one more time in 2018.
Richard also knows the struggles of trying to make it as an independent artist, having just released her fifth solo album, new breed in January.
“The people that have supported me the most as an independent artist is my movement, my fanbase,” she said. “People be looking for validation and a lot of times when you don’t get it, you think all hope is lost, but I don’t look for validation within my peers. I look for validation within myself. And I also look and respect the movement and the fanbase and the people who listen to my records and give me criticism because a lot of them are creatives and I’m very grateful to them.”
Watch Richard talk more about going independent, the state of R&B, and her relationship with Aubrey O’Day in the video above.