How does it feel to be out there on your own?
I dont know normal; frightened.
You're trouble, aren't you?
No. It's been because I'm very outspoken. It's because I got into this fight with my boyfriend and accidentally burned his house to the ground.
Well, I purposefully burned his shoes, but the house accidentally burned down! We'd been fighting, and I was so angry that when I went to look for him I went through the closet and there were 20 sneaker boxes stacked up on top of each other, and I immediately thought, "Did he think about me when he bought these? There better be a size four." And I ripped through the sneakers like a madwoman, and every size was a man's 10. I flipped! I threw the sneakers in the tub and was like, "Burn! You're gonna burn!" And the whole house burned down...[laughs]
I like the way you're laughing! You were lucky to get out of there...
Yeah, I was lucky. I was so mentally gone - the fire was hypnotic. I was in a daze. I was just watching the blaze growing, and my sister pulled me out of the bathroom.
Were you arrested?
You had to go to court and everything?
No, we made a deal, because if I went to trial and I was found guilty, I could have served up to 20 years for arson. So, my lawyer made a deal where I served just a few days in jail.
What was jail like?
It wasn't as bad as people paint it to be. At least not in my experience.
Did you have your bitches?
No, I didn't. I can get along with everyone, and people were applauding my entrance. And that feeling made me feel at home.
We would have thought there would have been some big old ladies in there wanting a piece of your ass.
I didn't give off that energy, that I wanted to be wanted. I'll sign autographs, I'll talk to your friends on the telephone, I'll play cards, I'll talk to you about your problems.
Your boyfriend forgave you, didn't he?
Yes. Well, he feels as if that would have never happend if there were certain things that he didn't do. Both of us took responsibility for that, even though I was that one who lit the flame...
And you're still together. How long is that now?
We've been together on and off for eight years.
That's quite a long time, because you're quite young aren't you?
Yeah...I'll always be young!
You did the Mel C duet thing - were you friends?
No. We met on the project, and she's a very down to earth person. She's got good energy.
You know there were rumours about her being a lesbian? Did she try it on with you?
No! I told you, I don't give off that kind of energy! My cousin is a lesbian, and she told me there's this radar - what is it? - gaydar, where they can tell, they can sense it!
Have you ever come close?
Well, there was one occasion. I was 17, I ran away from home and this woman invited me to live with her.
Who was the woman?
I met her through some guy, and the trade off was that I babysat her son while she was at work and she gave me room and board. And for a couple of weeks I had no idea that she was gay. She had a woman visiting her all the time, and they'd sleep in her room, but I thought it was because I was on the couch and they had nowhere else to sleep! And it wasn't until she let me know a couple of weeks later that the girl that I had been coming over was her girlfriend... Her sexual partners didn't bother me, so I just opted to stay. And she was very lenient: she signed all my notes for me when I didn't feel like going to school. She bought alcohol for me if I wanted to drink! She offered to get me fake ID and she told stories. She was 30, I was 17. One day she said if you ever have any questions you want to ask me, don't be afraid to ask! So one night, I just decided to start asking questions, and she tried me.
She tried you?
But for some reason she didn't take me all the way.
What do you mean?
She tried me. She wanted me to take off all my clothes, so she could look at my body, and she thought I was beautiful.
Did you take off everything?
Yeah, everything, and I stood there like a very timid, you know...and she tried me. I sat in the bed and she sat in the bed...she went halfway...It's like she touched me on my mouth and she touched me down below.
And how was that for you?
Well, I dont know how it felt at the time, because my mind was wondering "where's this going to go?" And she stopped and she said, "I wish I could go all the way with you." I dont know what was on her mind. I really think she wanted to groom me, or save me, or wanted to wait until I matured a little bit. When I got pregnant by a guy I was seeing, she flipped: "You're mine! I'm gonna kill him!" I never knew she felt like that.
So you set her sneakers on fire?
Noooo! I ended up back home. Then I finally ran away when I was 19 To Atlanta and I got in a group, and TLC happened. But I still had problems. I was drinking, oh my gosh. My father used to give me alcahol when I was 15. I started drinking beer. That escalated to Long Island Ice Teas, and that turned into gon and juices. Then I started to smoke marijuana when I was about 21 or 22, and for ten years I felt very lost. It was very unlike me. I felt I'd buried the beautiful me. Something else was taking over.
Is the real you coming back now?
Yeah, she's coming back slowly.
The single, "The Block Party" is out 15 October.