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Publication: The Face 2001

Blu Cantrell

Publication: Touch, cover story, 2003

Many women become famous and then take their clothes off for the camera. Few take their clothes off for the cameras and then become famous. But a case of Hennessey says you can’t name another no-one singer who’s done an all-out, legs-akimbo gynaecological glamour mag shoot - for US grot mag Black Tail magazine, eight years ago - and then taken out long-term tenancy on the UK Number One slot. In this respect and many others, Rhode Island R&B sex-banshee Blu Cantrell, 28 and making more money, fun and love than ever, likes to do things her own way.

Tomorrow night Blu Cantrell will perform her Number One guerilla smash ‘Breathe’ at Prince Rainier of Monaco’s World Music Awards in Monte Carlo. She’ll walk the red carpet behind Pink but in front Of Mariah Carey, which pretty much sums up Blu’s standing on the index of global celeb cred.

Tonight, meanwhile she’ll drink hen & Coke with Macy Gray, Pink, six-foot-plus new boyfriend Tony Deniro, various Hiltons, a dusting of supermodels, some minor Euro royalty and a substantial entourage at local niterie Jimmy’z – a spangly Eurotrash <boite> where the women are blonde, the diamonds are real, the drinks start at £25 each and all the besuitted men blur into one great big Amex oil slick. In short, the kind of place you find Number One pop stars.

This afternoon, however, Blu Cantrell is ogling Fashion TV in her room at the swish Hotel de l’Hermitage. A heavy-lidded, raspy-voiced, unrepentant coquette with more curves than vase warehouse, she laughs a lot, pouts even more and begins explaining in total sincerity to Touch that all publicity is good publicity. ‘Oh yeah,’’ she purrs Blacks Tail was the best thing I ever did, honey,’. ‘I don’t regret it a bit. I chose to do the pictures. I don’t regret it to this day.’

Blu Cantrell isn’t about to let a minor tabloid shitstorm get in the way of Number One-sized fun that’s taken years to achieve. After all, she learnt the code of the streets from a young age. Blu’s dad split when she was three, leaving her mum with six kids to feed. At 17 she moved to NYC and hustled for years before one of Arista supremo LA Reid’s people picked up on her potential. What followed was two albums of sexualised heartbreak, ‘So Blu’ and the recent ‘Bittersweet’, the ballbusting ‘Hit Em Up Style (Oops!)’ Top Forty single from 2001 and this year’s catchier-than-flu ‘Breathe’ smash with Sean Paul - and a career as ‘the girl everyone wants to f*ck’ (her words).

In a masterstroke of saleswomanship Blu Cantrell has turned misdemeanour into a marketing opportunity and proved that a murky past these days is as good for the CV as a stint on work experience at Oxfam. Her gutter-fabulous background has ironically given Blu the kind of full-frontal, take-no-shit sex appeal we desperately crave in an age of airbrushed, anodyne pop wonks. The Tina Turner of her day, Blu Cantrell is grittier than Saint Beyonce of Knowles, but classier than like Lil Kim or Foxy Brown. She can sing as good as the former, and the Black Tail thing means she’s already beaten latter at their own game. She is the ultimate Teflon Diva – people throw shit and it just doesn’t stick. The rumoured ‘beef’ with Beyonce’ remains just a rumour: ‘Oh yeah,’ she’ll nod with unswerving conviction, ‘”Crazy In Love” is brilliant. It’s my favourite song this year. It. Is. Brilliant. Fabulous,’ and put her money - or her booty - where her mouth is – by throwing herself all over the dancefloor the moment the needle hits the record. But perhaps what gives Blu her appeal is that unlike ton many of her contemporaries, she actually looks like she has sex. So let’s talk about sex, bay-bee

You’re  a global sex symbol. Does it feel good?

It’s fun! It’s very flattering. I dunno, I’m just a girl…

Has fame made you happy?

Absolutely! I wouldn’t have it any other way. People who don’t like being famous aren’t meant to be famous. Ones that love to be famous are the ones who are famous.

Does it bother you that some people know Blu Cantrell not for the songs but for the …

…Sexual thing? Sometimes it take a little time to get past the breasts! But when you get past the breasts you realise there is talent

There’s talk of beef with Beyonce, raunch with Jay-Z, and outrageous rider demands. You’re a controversy magnet.

Those things don’t concern me, they’re things that aren’t true. This is something people to talk about. I don’t really care. It’s very entertaining. The rider thing was not true… but you might as well ask. If the press is gonna talk about it, you deserve something in return. You can’t be bashed on 24/7. Fame is a Catch-22. There’s always a bad side. Everybody I know that’ s number one and big is talked about and shunned. It’s as if they hate you?

‘Bittersweet’ is more cheerful than your last album, ‘So Blu’. What changed? I’m having more fun. It’s all about a growth process. And getting over a relationship.How long did that take?

Probably two years. I was with [undisclosed NBA basketball superstar] for three. It took two to get over him and three to get away from him.

When did you notice you were feeling better?

When I finally got away from him altogether. He was involved in other aspects of my life, my family and my music. When he was out of all that, I was free of him. The addiction is over.

So he wanted to remain friends with you?

People want to be friends because they’re trying to keep a hold on you. They’re someone just using you. Fuck him, or her. That’s bullshit. They’re trying to keep you on a leash in case the new person doesn’t work out

Sean Paul – did you guys get on well?

He’s really sweet. I liked him and he’s very sweet. I was definitely into him. Who wouldn’t be? He’s hot!

You’re on a Desert Island for the rest of you life. Who’s your Man Friday: Prince William, Sean Paul or Jay-Z?

Ohmigosh, I cant answer that! Put Tony in, my boyfriend. Prince William’s kinda hot. I bet he’s really good at making shit up, like building a little house for us. Like Blue Lagoon. You know what - It’ d have to be Prince William. Jay-Z’s old news…

What happened between you and Jay-Z?

I never kissed Jay-Z. Jay-Z’s just a friend. It’s all bullshit.

Breathe was Number One for 4 weeks. Do I feel like you’ve ‘arrived’?

No, I feel there’s more work to be done. Like what? Like making more songs that go to number one. It was exciting, and we were ecstatic. It was very surprising. I was very happy though

How long did it take to make ‘Breathe’?

About 30 minutes. I’m very fast in the studio. It doesn’t take more than two hours to write a song.

You upstaged Lil Kim at The MOBOs. Do you think she’s a too raunchy?

That’s who she is. Kim likes to shock people and that’s what she does best. It was just a matter of time before she did the same with her image, It was a matter of time before she crossed the line. Madonna did the same. Plenty of other people have done the same

How many time have you had your heart broken?

Ten thousand times maybe? Several times. Two or three. The last one was the worst.

What’s the worst thing a man can do in bed?

Do I have to answer that?


When he does his thing before you do, and then just gets up. It’s selfish. But it’s very common…

What do you like about British Men?

The accent, the demeanour... they’re charming. They’re calm and very complete. They hold everything within themselves.

That’s so kind - thank you. What’s bad about American men?

They’re disrespectful.

When was the last time you had sex?

I can’t answer that. I’m not gonna answer that. No comment.

Have you ever had sex in a public place?

Next question!

If you had to give up singing or sex, which would you give up?

Sex. Definitely. I go so long without it anyway it wouldn’t matter… [glances at Tony, who looks disappointed]

Do you believe in revenge?

Revenge is unhealthy. The best thing to do is move on. Next time you see them, you’re gonna be happy and that’s gonna kill them. After my last boyfriend treated me like crap I became Number One. And he looked at me like, “wow, what did I do? I’m an asshole.” It all came out in the wash, how much he was lying. It all came out together. Success is the sweetest revenge.

© Kevin Braddock 2003

All content ©2004 Kevin Braddock

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