[Interview] Cocoa Sarai – Coloring Outside the Lines

Unsigned hype Cocoa Sarai is one of NYC’s underground gems. R&B is her flavor but her sound is heavily seasoned in Hip Hop. In fact, she’s looking for Kanye West.

Cocoa Cure: Many aspiring recording artists share a remarkable past and talent that drive them to be successful in their career. Tell me one thing that stands out about you as an artist.

Cocoa Sarai: I grew up in a family full of musicians and singers. Even the people that married into the family can do something. Ive never been trained but I was taught at a young age how to feel. My grandmother was big on that. So one thing that I know stands out is my ability to evoke emotion in people. I say this all of the time but I honestly feel like R&B has lost its touch because most of the music is all rhythm and no blues. I understand that people will forget what they see and hear but they never forget what they feel. So it is very important to me that my audience [and]fan base feel connected to what there listening to or watching. I honestly feel like music or the genre r&b is going back to its roots little by little.

CC: How does your music compare or contrast to what’s currently being played on radio?

CS: This is a question for the consumer (laughs). I just make the music. I know that my voice is soulful, its something I cant change and I dont want it to either, but my style of music is a fusion of all the things that I’m influenced by. Hip Hop edge, country music styled detailing in my writing and that thing that makes a song just feel good, well maybe thats Brooklyn (laughs). Some of my records may work for radio and some may not. It’s for the people though so they choose. I just do feels natural and pray that you accept it.

CC: You seem to be quite accomplished as a relatively unknown singer-songwriter. Which accomplishment are you most proud of to-date?

CS: That’s funny, I dont feel so accomplished. My dreams are so big and I have so much more that I want to do. My favorite thing so far has to be performing at Madison Square Garden. I have wanted to sing there since I was 5 years old. Hearing my voice fill that venue and the screams of all those people… it’s definitely a high like no other and it’s in MY city so it’s a moment that I will never forget. My mother was proud.

CC: Regarding your career, what has been your toughest challenge?

CS: Recording “The Black & White” album while my mother was dying from lung cancer. I learned my strength and the booth was my leather couch. I had to push myself every day to finish the project because at that time I felt alone. It was hard! The industry is [a] zoo in itself but you decide whether you’re going to be an animal or a zoo keeper (laughs) – that’s what my mother use to say. I told her I’d rather own the zoo (laughs). She would say ‘So get back to work then – bosses dont sleep.’

CC: How has growing up in NY influenced your sound and songwriting?

CS: Definitely [it inspires] the edge in my music. It’s a certain way to ride a beat that only listening to hip hop can give you. New York is so diverse and so many different types of people come to my shows. It’s the reason why I want the world, not just NYC or even America. I want to be remembered and I want people to play my songs for their great grands when I’m dead. New York made me realize that the possibilities are endless.

CC: What concerns, if any, do you have about entering such a grueling industry?

CS: Kanye West. He is a genius and he doesn’t give a damn about structure – it’s about what feels good. And I know this is random but Scrillix too. I think that would be a hell of a mixture.

CC: It has rhythm and no Blues, once again. When I say blues I dont mean sad or even happy for that matter. I just mean that you believed the artist was about the life that they sang about. You believed Marvin Gaye wanted to get it on; that Whitney Houston wanted to dance with somebody; and, you believed Michael Jackson when he sang “Pretty Young Thing” and so on and so on. I just want it to go back to that space where it feels real.

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