In the Studio: Ciara Evolves Again on Triple-Disc "Fantasy Ride"

June 24, 2008 1:51 PM ET

For her third album (due this fall), Ciara wanted to "take fans on a musical journey," so she split her tunes into three discs that'll be packaged together but focus on different genres: "Crunk Town," "Groove City" and "Kingdom of Dance." The concept sounds Disneyland-ish, but with Fantasy Ride's versatile tracks — from the hyperspeed, Eurythmics-inspired club banger "Work" to the sweet, dreamy "When I" (on which Ciara imagines kissing her man near the Eiffel Tower) to the dark, synthy "High Price," an ode to Porsches, diamonds and sake that features a Ludacris cameo — it's far from cheesy. "I want to challenge myself and do things that are a bit edgier," says the singer, who cut the record in Las Vegas and her native Atlanta (and is now about one week away from finishing up studio work). "I'm reaching further and digging inside, and I'm not afraid of what comes out."

"The different stops embrace different types of music and different vibes and different grooves," she explains. "I'm not the queen of Crunk&B, never been that, never wanna be that, but I think it's important to give my fans that sound that they loved about me from the beginning. I just give you some cool elements of what makes Ci Ci," she says of "Crunk Town." "It isn't just crunk music, it's just energy music that keeps you goin' and that's what crunk music is, period." As for "Groove City," "It's just about groovin' out, relaxing. It's just the essential colors. You get a lot of sensuality on this record." And "Kingdom of Dance"? "I just wanna make sure I keep the clubs rockin'."

Ciara promises a handful of major cameos, but is tight-lipped when it comes to naming names. Danja, T-Pain, Polow Da Don, Tricky and The-Dream contributed to writing and production (plus Ne-Yo cowrote "Supernatural" on the "Groove City" record), and additional inspiration came from listening to SWV and Diana Ross albums, playing the old-school video game Centipede, reading celebrity blogs ("That's my only way of staying current") and the world of vogueing. "I've grown in many different ways," she says. "Even from the last record, which was called The Evolution because I really had grown from my first record. As a woman I'm growing and I'm starting to feel things a little bit differently. Now I've realized I am who I am. I'm just gonna go ahead and be that and not worry about what anyone has to say."

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