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Chrisette Michele: A 'Rich Hipster' revealed
The neo-soul songstress reboots her sound and a 'Better' life in Brooklyn

By Larry Gilchrist
Special to MSN Music

Chrisette Michele is a new woman – literally. The R&B songstress recently went on a journey of self-discovery that resulted in her becoming a vegan. The process also changed her outlook on life and love – hence the upbeat title of her new Def Jam album, "Better," released on June 11.

The album, her fourth, showcases Michele as both the sultry-voiced siren whose "Best Of Me" made her a favorite of soulsters everywhere as well as a more upbeat and optimistic artist who has fully embraced her hipster lifestyle.

"Better" features appearances from 2 Chainz, Wale and Bilal, among others; but it's really all about Chrisette. MSN Music recently caught up with her to discuss the album, the state of R&B and the definition of a "rich hipster.'

MSN Music: What was the inspiration for "Better"?

Chrisette Michele: I went into the studio and did whatever came to mind. What felt the most honest and natural was me feeling better about love and relationships, and it kept growing from there. The songs got filled more and more about love and hope for the future – and for love itself.

You're on the road consistently. What made you decide that it was time to record this album?

A budget … At the end of the day, the label says, "OK, we're ready to spend money again." And you go into the studio, unlike when you're recording a mixtape and you have something you want to get off your chest. Then you say, "OK, who wants to give me some studio time for really cheap?"

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You said you were feeling "better" during the recording of this album. What changed your outlook on love?

I took some time to cleanse – literally. I started off by doing a 60-day juice cleanse and I felt so much lighter and more clear in my mind that I kept going. I became a vegetarian after that, and then I cut out a lot of dairy. And for some reason, it just made me feel lighter. I started meditating more. I rededicated my life to Christ. I just became prayerful, meditative and just healed from all of my brokenness that I had experienced in the past. And that's what catapulted this project, because I feel better.

"A Couple of Forevers" is the current single. Tell me about the inspiration for that song.

It's always fun to create R&B because people seem to think that it is a lost sound. So, every single time it's re- created people are like, "Oh my god! It's an R&B record." But for some reason it comes natural for me, so "A Couple of Forevers" is a song that felt natural in my voice and felt easy to sing.

The song that I was immediately drawn to for both its title and its lyrics was "Rich Hipster."

Thank you. "Rich Hipster" is my favorite song on the album. It's also the name of my company and my lifestyle. I have decided to name my lifestyle [laughs]. I moved to Williamsburg [Brooklyn's trendy neighborhood known for its hipster culture] about two and a half years ago and fell in love with the odyssey that I was able to portray. The fact that I can wear the same black skinny jeans every day and not be judged for it [laughs] or that I can wear my tattoos out and not look different – I even found a church in the SoHo area called Hillsong where there are all these people who were just like me. So, "Rich Hipster" is just a song about me being my most honest self and I am overwhelmed by the love that I have received for it. In fact, I am shooting a video for it.

What is focus of Rich Hipster, the company?

The heart of it is a lifestyle marketing department, because there are lot of different departments in Rich Hipster. But my favorite part is the part that films little caveats of lifestyle and pieces it together in what I call "Instagram-style" and delivers it to the Internet for social media sharing so that people can get insight into other's lives. Everything may not be on reality television, but the Internet has made an incredible medium for people to showcase themselves in different ways.

You have such an eclectic perspective. Do you think your fans are ever surprised by the things you do?

My fans are surprised at everything that I do for some reason. That's why I have taken out the time to take more Instagram pictures, so everyone is not surprised every time I do something. I want people to know that my life is what I am singing about and that I am the girl that you hear when you purchase an album from me. An album is just 10 songs. You can't live your life in 10 days, so how could you do it in 10 songs? So there has to be other mediums and other ways to show people who you are and I thank social media for that.

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