Published in VMAN 20, Winter 2010 as part of SING THE WORLD ELECTRIC.

Ciara may be a multiplatinum global superstar, but she started out as a nomadic global citizen. “I was a military baby,” she explains matter-of-factly. The R&B heartbreaker, famous for showing off her “Goodies” with unparalleled dancing prowess, spent part of her childhood in Germany and Utah before her family settled in Atlanta, the city she considers her home base. “I’ve always had big dreams. I definitely had a vision for myself—to become a successful artist and entertainer.”

Her ambition proved to be a critical counterpart to her enormous talent as a dancer and singer—so much so that simply by focusing on clean production and occasionally letting her body do the talking Ciara has injected into the mainstream scene a burst of fresh air, with jaw-dropping physical performances that leave her flashier contemporaries in the dust. “Fashion matters,” says Ciara, whose most sartorially ostentatious moments come from her 2009 record, Fantasy Ride, “but it’s about what you are bringing to the stage that matters to me more. I just wanted to take all this stuff off and put on my sneakers, and I hadn’t done that in a really long time.”

In her fourth studio album, the aggressively titled Basic Instinct, Ciara strips away the excess to focus on bass-heavy dance R&B, courtesy of co-producers Tricky and The Dream. The result is nothing short of her most definitive and irrepressible record yet—so graphic, one might say, that the album’s lead-in single and video, “Ride,” was promptly banned by the BET network for its suggestive lyrics and choreography.

“I was really surprised,” she says of the incident. “It was unfortunate that my video was banned, because BET and the urban community are at the core of who I am. But I am very proud of the video and I don’t take back anything I did for it.” Nor should she. The video has since raked in upwards of fifteen million views on YouTube and helped keep the attention of one of fashion’s most visionary talents, Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci.

“That is the most exciting thing for me, I can’t even tell you,” Ciara says of her new role as fashion model and muse to the label. “Performing onstage will always be number one, that is the top. But this is a whole new world for me. When I first walked on set with Riccardo, I was like ‘Wow!—I don’t want this to end! I’ve got to keep working hard.'”

Meanwhile, Ciara is intent on continuing to foster her lifelong globalism. “It’s important to me that no matter what I can always perform in the hood of Atlanta, Georgia, or the suburbs in the U.K. The music has to be diverse. This album, out of all my albums, is the one that is most dedicated to my fans. I just hope they enjoy this and they feel like this is classic Ciara. Patrik Sandberg


Basic Instinct is out now on LaFace Records.