Sevyn Streeter Says Her New Album Feels Like Her 'First': 'It's a Beautiful Space to Be In'

The R&B singer tells PEOPLE that she channeled "love, lust, loneliness, heartbreak and anger" into her sophomore studio album, Drunken Wordz Sober Thoughtz

sevyn streeter
Sevyn Streeter. Photo: Bonnie Nichoalds

Sevyn Streeter is ready to reintroduce herself.

On Friday, the R&B singer-songwriter, 35, is set to release her new sophomore studio album Drunken Wordz Sober Thoughtz, which she tells PEOPLE feels like her "first" record in many ways.

"My last album [2017's Girl Disrupted], although there were songs I loved on it like 'Before I Do,' I honestly feel like it did not get the push it deserved," says Streeter. "There were a lot of things going on with me at my last label, so I don't really feel like this is my sophomore album."

"There are a lot of firsts that are happening with this: It's my first time being independent, my first time being able to be as creative as my brain will allow and the first album where I can really feel the efforts from everybody who is involved," she continues. "It's a really beautiful space to be in."

While recording Drunken Wordz Sober Thoughtz amid the COVID-19 lockdown, Streeter channeled the "range of emotions" she was feeling into the music, including "love, lust, loneliness, heartbreak and anger."

"I can't ever be too shy or afraid to say what I think or what I feel because that's not human," she says. "Each song on the project feels like a different emotion, and somebody out there is going to find a song on the project and go, 'Oh my God. That's exactly how I feel.'"

sevyn streeter
Sevyn Streeter. Bonnie Nichoalds

For her personally, Streeter says that of all the album tracks, the song "Taboo" is the most representative of where she's at in her life right now.

"You know how sometimes you meet somebody, and your conversation is good, and everything seems like it's too good to be true?" she says. "That's what this song is about. It's saying that too good doesn't have to be taboo. Why can't it just be a good thing? Why can't it just be that I genuinely like to be around this person? So that's my current mood because I'm single, but I'm dating. And I'm learning how to allow myself to lean into situations when they feel good, and to not be afraid of them."

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Single for the past two years, Streeter admits that dating in Los Angeles — where she's lived on-and-off since she was 15 — hasn't been the easiest.

"It's a little hard, I'm not going to lie," she says. "But I like to think I'm a pretty good judge of character. Maybe sometimes too good of a judge of character, which is why I'm single. I'll say to my friends, 'Sometimes, I wish that I didn't pick up on things so soon. Let me be dumb in love for two seconds.' It'd be kind of nice to experience it, but in L.A., unfortunately, you become accustomed to the bulls---."

But even the downsides of dating have served a purpose in Streeter's music. For example, on her single "Guilty" featuring Chris Brown and A$AP Ferg she sings about cheating.

Seeing the reaction to "Guilty" since its release in February has "been so bomb," says Streeter. "There's a sample in the song from James Brown's 'The Big Payback,' which is a song that holds a very special place in my heart because my grandfather loved that song. It's kind of nostalgic, and I feel like I'm a part of some really amazing Black music history."

Though her grandfather died several years ago, Streeter says she knows "he's somewhere dancing to my version of it now."

"Guilty" came to Streeter by way of Brown's cousin, who asked her, "What if this was you and CB?"

"I was like, 'Hell yeah,'" she recalls. "Every time we've ever worked together, it's been magic. So it ended up being magic yet again, and adding A$AP Ferg to the record was just perfect because it reminded me of the '90s, like 'Can't You See' with Total and Biggie and Puff. They both killed, like they do every feature."

Along with her Brown and A$AP Ferg collaboration, Streeter also has a song featuring her longtime best friend Jeremih on the album called "Wet Dreamz."

"The song with him is just so special," she says. "Jeremih's father was actually there with us when we cut that song, and his father loved, loved, loved that song. He sat there in the session the entire time, and if you knew his dad, he was a music lover. His dad was the sweetest person in the world, and we ended up losing him like a week after we cut the song. So that song has a really special place in my heart because his dad loved that song, and I just love their family."

"That has nothing to do with what the song is talking about, but that's why it holds a special place in my heart," she continues. "But if we get into what it's talking about, it's just the sexiest record. It speaks about you catching a vibe with somebody and not being afraid to say, 'Hey this is what it is.' It's very sexy. If you have your sexy time, just put on 'Wet Dreamz.'"

Even with the album completed and ready for release, Streeter hasn't slowed down. Just weeks ago, she says, she wrote a bridge for Normani.

"There's so much beautiful Black music out right now," she says. "It's a really great space, and I just think that there's room for everybody. When I grew up, I had Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah, all of these different artists and all these different groups ... SWV, Xscape, 702. We had so much amazing music from Black females, and it feels like it's happening again."

sevyn streeter
Sevyn Streeter. Bonnie Nichoalds

It's a good feeling for Streeter, who admits she's had to work "10 times harder" as a Black woman in the industry ever since she got her start in the girl group TG4 at 9 years old.

"You do feel the effects of being a Black woman: You have to wake up a little bit earlier, make a few more phone calls," she says. "It's really unfortunate, but I will say that today, right now, the thing that I am most proud of for Black people is that we're so vocal."

She adds that as a Black woman, "hard work is no stranger to me."

"I take pride in the fact that I'm always going to work hard, no matter what," she says. "I come from an amazing, strong, hard-working Black mother, and amazing, hard-working grandmothers and aunts and a whole network of Black women who have dealt with the same things in various fields."

"My mother was the dean of my high school, and there were things that she went through as a Black woman that were frustrating for her, but I watched her be resilient and work through it and experience a lot of success in that way," she says. "So it's nothing new, but I'm really, really, really happy that there's so much more light being shed on this conversation."

Now, as she prepares to release her new album on Friday, Streeter can't wait to perform her new songs live.

"That's what I'm looking forward to most: shows, shows, shows," she says. "And then I want to do a girls trip with my girlfriends!"

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