R&B icon Brandy is celebrating Mother's Day early this year by teaming up with Chance the Rapper to drop her new single "Baby Mama," one of the tracks on her highly-anticipated album -- her first one in eight years, following 2012's TwoEleven.
The timing couldn't have been more perfect for the single, which she describes as an "anthem" for mothers everywhere.
"It first started with me wanting to do a song expressing my love for my daughter, the unconditional love that I feel for her," she tells us in our new series Inside with The Advocate. "And then I thought it would be a great way to change the stigma of what a baby mama is, and really celebrate not just baby mamas, not just single mamas, but every kind of mother who is striving to do whatever they can to be an example, a light, a force in their child's life."
As for the album, which has been two years in the making, "It's been great to be back. I feel so much love and so much respect for my music and I'm just so thankful that people have been patient with me and showing me so much love right now."
Still, it's not like Brandy hasn't been busy. In addition to raising her soon-to-be 18-year-old daughter Sy'rai, the singer has starred as Roxie Hart in Chicago and appeared in Lee Daniels' Star.
On her LGBTQ allyship over the years, the star says she will "never stop" fighting for equality.
"I feel like love is the most important magic that we have in life, and wherever there's love, that's where I want to be," she says. "I feel like it's important for everybody to feel loved and everybody to feel like they are accepted and they have a family of people, that we can all come together and be one person.I feel so positive about that. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for the love that we all can share together."
Brandy also touched on the growing visibility of LGBTQ artists in hip-hop and R&B music, like Lil Nas X, Young M.A., and Taylor Bennett (Chance the Rapper's younger brother).
"I feel like this is a great time to be yourself and to be accepted," she says when asked if we were experiencing a tipping point in queer visibility within hip-hop music. "I just love that we're all celebrating in that."
Arguably, one of Brandy's most famous roles was in ABC's Cinderella as the titular role, which she played opposite Whitney Houston. While reminiscing, she couldn't help but find gratitude in all of it.
"I felt like I was Cinderella," she says. "I felt like my dreams as me were coming true right before my eyes. I spent most of my childhood wanting to be a star and wanting to be a singer, but the other part of it was wanting to meet Whitney Houston. I just wanted to meet her, but I never thought in a [million] years that I would be in a studio with her."
These days, Brandy is well aware of her legacy and understands the importance of where it carried this generation's young artists.
"I love being somewhat of an example to some of the artists that have really shown me love and respect, and it makes me feel that everything I've done and everything I'm doing, it serves a higher purpose than just coming out with music and topping the charts or winning awards," she says. "It's a deeper meaning as to the work I do, and I love that. I want to stay true to that because you never know who's watching. You never know who you're inspiring to become that next thing, or [if] someone's dreams can come true because they're watching you. I always want to be mindful."
Watch the full interview above.