#Popularplay: Cocoa Sarai
Oct 25, 2020
Grammy winning R&B singer-songwriter Cocoa Sarai is using her voice and lyrics to evoke change. A master lyricist, she is able to pull words from moments that have left her speechless. Over the past year, she has been a catalyst of change speaking out about police brutality and social injustices happening around the country and even within her own family.
In speaking with Popular TV, Cocoa Sarai talked about one of her latest tracks ‘No Apologies’, life as a creative, and the realities of writing from a hard place.
1. Where did the inspiration for your new track ‘No Apologies’ come from?
Man oh man! So I was in Atlanta working on music with producer Focus… — we finished a record and started this one. As soon as I heard the drums and bass line, it just came to me. I started dating again after a breakup from a long relationship and the dating climate was weird. In NYC, a lot of people knew that I did music and were a little intimidated to talk to me (their words, not mine). I was learning what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I was owning my body, my opinions, my accomplishments, my sexuality, my business, etc. I work in a male-dominated industry. People kept asking me to choose a side when it came to what I was talking about in my music. Men never have to choose. Women shouldn’t either. We don’t have to be one thing! Anything that can carry a life inside it should not be expected to be only one thing. The song is just about owning your own existence, not apologizing for being exactly who you are, doing what you want, and saying how you feel.
2. Was music something that called to you over time more than other artistic avenues or did you just know at some point?
I think music chose me. My mom said that I was two years old when I started singing. Coming from a musical family, everyone can either play an instrument or sing. So I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. I started writing poetry at 11 and I started writing songs and recording in the studio at 13.
3. How has living in and around where you are pushed you and your career/life?
People from Brooklyn like to call it its own universe. Lol. So much culture, so many things going on. I grew up singing in church but I lived in Bed Stuy and Brownsville. Hip-hop is ingrained in the concrete in New York. My mother listened to all kinds of music and so I was exposed to everything from jazz to punk, R&B to gospel, hip-hop, and everything in between. My approach and attitude are a direct result of my experiences. New York City raised me. I live in Los Angeles now. It’s such a beautiful place, and such a dope-ass musical hub. I feel like New York raised me and my experience in LA is refining me a little bit.
4. I love that your single “Strange Fame” and that you took the message behind the mic and into practice. As an artist, how did you prepare to give particularly personal songs to the world and your audience?
I didn’t prepare for it. I didn’t even want to write that song. My little brother was assaulted by the cops a few days after the George Floyd protests. I was actually going through it. So I didn’t really wanna talk about it, but that song wrote itself — it poured out of me. It’s honest and I think people connect to things that are real.
5. You mentioned recently that you had started a clothing line, what things, images, or people have inspired this line?
Yes, the name of the line is Strange Fame. It’s named after the song, but it means so much more — fame is actually a strange thing. There are three pieces right now. All three of the pieces represent a part of the song. “Equity Over Equality” is a phrase I believe in because it’s not enough to be equal. The other side had a head start off of the backs of my ancestors. I’m more concerned with equity and doing something now that helps me to be able to take care of my lineage for years to come. “Forbes Black” is the second design, based on a lyric from the song, and then the actual “Strange Fame” design incorporates my favorite lyric from the song.
6. What is a collaboration that you want to happen?
Wow, I know that I’m going to forget a lot of people who I really like. I would love to work with Lucky Daye, Smino, SiR, Daniel Caesar, Travis Scott, Raphael Saadiq, a producer named D’mile. I know this list can get longer very easily!
7. What is a question that you wish you got asked more?
“How much do you need to complete your vision?”
Keep up with the artist on Instagram and stream her latest songs down below!