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There have been many turning points in my life, but one that stands out to me came at the end of last year.

PJ Morton had sent me the song called Say So. As soon as I heard it, I loved it, and decided to work on it. For the first time ever, I didn’t ask for anybody’s opinion. I didn’t ask my label or my management, ‘Do you like this? Do you think I should do this?’ I just went to New Orleans to hit the studio and we recorded the duet together.

The song ended up being nominated for several Grammys. That was my first time ever going to the Grammys, too – I told myself when I was 13 that I wouldn’t go until I was nominated. I thought that we had zero chance of winning because Best R&B Song is a really competitive category. When we won, it was such a validating experience because I finally trusted myself. Labels often try to pair you with other artists because they think it’s the right look or the right narrative or whatever. But we didn’t consider any of that, we both really respected each other as artists and and people loved the song because I think they could feel the sincerity in it. And after being in the industry for so long, having had a No. 1 single at 13 years old, I used to think that I shouldn’t trust my gut because people know better than me.

I think the moral of the story is that when labels put artists together, like, for example, me and Wiz Khalifa on the first single from my last album, it’s clear that it’s not an organic pairing. I think people can tell when it’s not genuine – it doesn’t resonate in the same way. Say So was a little victory that made me feel like I’m capable of so much on my own and still have so much more to do. There are so many ways I can grow.

Good to Know is out now via Warner Records. Become a Crack Magazine Supporter to read Issue 113.