Ciara doesn’t like to curse. The “Body Party” singer won’t use profanity in front of you, and when she started using more colorful language on her 2010 album Basic Instinct after years of resistance, she censored the actual four-letter word to keep it from getting too vulgar. So it’s a surprise, then, to hear the singer call herself a “bad motherf-cker” close to two dozen times on “Jackie (B.M.F.),” the opening track off her new album, Jackie.
“I was really thinking about everything I had been through, so when I went in the studio, I just felt like screaming it out,” she says of recording the song. “There was a whole newfound confidence that came over me after having my son.”
Ciara spoke to TIME about becoming a mom to baby Future, how the music industry has changed since “Goodies” and why she decided to get more personal on her new album.
On what it means to be B.M.F.: “B.M.F. is purely confidence. We all have an inner B.M.F. in us. It’s that moment when you’re embracing who you are. If you feel like you’ve been through things in your life and have been able to push through those things, you are a B.M.F. If you’re a mom who’s been working her butt off and delivered a child and had to raise them, you are a B.M.F. It’s for any person who’s being courageous. If you feel a little insecure and a little doubtful, you need to look in the mirror and tell yourself, ‘I am a B.M.F.’ That’s the attitude you have to have.”
On addressing her breakup on “I Bet”: “Having a child with someone, you’re always going to be respectful of that. But the song ‘I Bet’ was honestly inspired by my life experiences — I can’t just say it’s from one experience. It’s one of those songs that’s very real. I would talk to people in the studio, and we’d talk about real-life things that everyone can relate to, not just the women, but the men too. It was one of those songs that felt necessary for the universe. It’s so good when I see young girls come up to me and say, ‘I love ‘I Bet,’ it’s helping me, that’s my song.’ That’s what you want your music to be: you want it be something that touches someone. It does feel good to know that it speaks to someone’s heart and can inspire them.”
On social media: “You can either allow social media to be helpful for you or it can be harmful. I like to let it be helpful. It allows me to have instantaneous interactions with my fans — you didn’t have that luxury before. It is cool when you put something up on Instagram and get the response right then instead of waiting to see what the world thinks tomorrow. I like how it allows me — a person who used to always be so private — the opportunity to grow and push myself. Sometimes sharing a photo is really O.K. because you never know how it can inspire someone. Or writing a tweet of what your thoughts are — you can show people you feel what they feel.”
On looking back at scrapped singles like “Sweat”: “You just have to keep it moving. There are a few songs where I definitely go, ‘Eh, I knew this one song wasn’t going to work.’ But I had to do it! There are some songs where you’re like, ‘I really like this song,’ and it just didn’t work out how you thought it would. That’s life. You win some, you lose some. You can’t dwell on it. I can’t be worried about the past. I’ve got to keep it moving and stay focused on the future — pun intended.”