Totally Kima: Our Interview with 1/3 of the Bad Girls Group, Total
As one of the, then, signature acts, formerly, signed to Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs’ Bad Boy Records imprint during its nineties heyday, R&B collective Total, comprised of Kima Raynor, Keisha Spivey and Pamela Long, were a true musical force to be reckoned with. After making their first professional appearance harmonizing the infectious hook on the late, great The Notorious B.I.G.’s premier offering, “Juicy,” the native Newark, New Jersey powerhouse trio dropped a pair of hit filled albums, their 1996 self-titled debut and Kima, Keisha, and Pam in ’98, which were largely fueled by a string of chart-topping singles, Ma$e’s “What You Want,” “Kissing You,” “Can’t You See,” featuring the aforementioned Biggie, and the Missy Elliott assisted “What About Us?” & “Trippin’,” before quietly, and to the dismay of their many dedicated fans, they left the music world far, far behind them. Flash forward nearly two decades later, and the lovely ladies of Total are finally back and in full e-f-f-e-c-t mode!
Parlé Magazine recently had the good pleasure of speaking with 1/3 of the platinum-plus group, Jakima Raynor Dyson, while the self-professed ‘Bad Girls’ were busy out on the road in total support of their one time label boss, Puff Daddy, on his current Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour, in order to discuss ALL things Total: past, present and future, including a new single from Kima herself…
Parlé Mag: Let’s hop right into this new solo single / upcoming video, “Distraction”. Tell me about this particular composition? How did it actually come to fruition?
Kima: The song was presented to my by friend / producer, Richard Shelton of One Up Entertainment. When I heard it, I fell in love with the lyrics and melody, It truly fit my life. I have been recording off and on for years, but never really followed through. So with the encouragement of my husband, my sister Vita, Pam and management, I decided why not. I have always loved the business side of the industry, and now that being an independent artist is so customary in today’s industry I decided to take the wheel and put some of my music out so fans can hear Kima. Don’t get me wrong, I love Total and that takes priority, but I feel that now that we are in control of our careers we can now peel back the layers and give our Fam music, collectively and individually.
Parlé Mag: On it, of course, you teamed up with rapstress, and your sister, Vita formerly of Murder Inc.; why did you choose to put her on the record
Kima: Vita is my sister. I decided that as I created a lane for my Totally Kima project, that I had to get my sister on the record. She is dope and needs to be heard.
Parlé Mag: Sonically, how does “Distraction” measure up to what your friends, fans and followers alike, already expect from you as being 1/3 of Total?
Kima: The sound is familiar and it’s that pretty voice you hear on the Total records. Lyrically, the message in the song is about love!! Loving someone so much, that sometimes the world stops. I wanted to make a record that everyone can relate to.
Parlé Mag: “Distraction” comes courtesy of your forthcoming, not to mention long overdue, still untitled, debut solo collection—at this point in time, what all can you reveal and/or divulge about said upcoming set?
Kima: All I can say is I let God guide me. There are great things in the horizon, and I’m moving forward one step at a time. There will be more music coming, both solo and collectively as Total.
Listen to Kima ft. Vita “Distraction” below:
Parlé Mag: How does the new material either differ and/or compare to previous Total efforts?
Kima: It’s different because it’s just Kima… and I would say it is comparable because I’m sticking with the ’90’s sound and style. I just want to create good feeling music that makes people happy and want to dance!!
Parlé Mag: “Distraction” also signifies your “official” comeback, considering it’s your first new project since 1998’s Kima, Keisha, and Pam LP. That said, what have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, during this nearly eighteen year musical hiatus?
Kima: I totally went in a different direction and career. I went to school, got my certification in the medical industry, and started my own consultant company. It got to the point that during that time I did not want to do music anymore, so I focused on my family and a different career. Not until recently did I decide to find my love for music again, and that lead to me releasing my single.
Parlé Mag: What was it – specifically – about now in 2016 that prompted you to return to form [music]?
Kima: It was God!! His Timing!! Pam asked me to do a show with her back in 2014, and he has been healing the situation ever since. Total is back performing as 3, and I am grateful and anticipating the journey.
Parlé Mag: With that being said, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Kima: Wow! There’s been so much maturity and growth on my part, that it’s scary!! The industry has changed in the favor of the artist. What I mean by that is more artists can now be heard and control their music and careers, because we no longer need the middle man. We can work hard for ourselves, and be happy with the results because it’s all you.
Parlé Mag: Reflecting, how did you first discover your musical talent?
Kima: Around the age of 7, when I began singing in church. My love for music only grew after that.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Kima: God first and Total, and the mentoring and production of Puffy and the people he brought together to work on a common goal: to make good music that stands the test of time!!
Parlé Mag: Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
Kima: There are always going to be obstacles; it’s part of the blueprint. You just need to stay the course and be persistent, and you find a way around, over or under, to get to where you need to be. Especially if it in God’s plans for you.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
Kima: I don’t really do the trying to fit in thing. I create music that feels good and true to me. There are some really good artists out that stand on their own, but there are those that are trying to fit in and you can tell the difference.
Parlé Mag: What has been your greatest achievement(s) so far?
Kima: My greatest achievement so far would be being a mother and a wife!! Sometimes that is not the easiest thing to be great at at all times, but when I look at where we’ve been and are yet to go, I can truly say I give it my all and the results are rewarding!
Parlé Mag: If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Kima: I would love to have worked with Prince!! He was such a true talent. I would have loved to have been a student to his artistry.
Parlé Mag: If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Kima: I would love to perform in the middle of Times Square!! My (dream) is (for that to be) one of the audiences to perform to!! Energy be on 1000!!
Parlé Mag: Lastly, you are currently out on the road with this super successful Bad Boy Reunion Tour—how has that being going for you so far? What has been the crowd’s reaction to you all being back on stage together again? And, does this in any way indicate that there may be another Total album in the works at some point in the near future?
Kima: The Tour so far has been Amazing!! I am so happy to be performing again with Pam and Keisha. We definitely have been discussing new music… so stay tuned!!